Although many people have heard about teaching English in Japan, it seems like not everyone has heard of the jobs available or the hiring process and what it consists of. The first step is of course to browse through the different jobs listings (a great site for this is GaijinP ot) and figure out the type of position that appeals to you. In terms of teaching English in Japan, there are two primary full time positions (from what I have seen).
The first of these is the ALT, or Assistant Language Teacher. This position is usually in public schools and the position is to assist the primary teacher of the classroom with teaching English. This can vary a lot between each position – sometimes the ALT will have a very large role in the classroom including lesson planning and sometimes he or she will really just be there to lend a helping hand whenever the primary teacher needs help. This is a great opportunity for people with little to no experience teaching English because in many cases the responsibilities are less and as long as you bring excitement and enthusiasm to the position you will be ok.
The second option would be to work in an Eikaiwa, which is an English conversation school. These positions entail working with a company that provides after school/work English lessons. The biggest difference with these positions is that because they are not in actual schools, the hours will be later in the day and on the weekends. Also, this is a business, sometimes a large corporation, and the primary focus will be to make money. For this reason you will sometimes be expected to go out and help with marketing and job creation.
Both of these positions tend to cater to a younger crowd of teacher. The schools that you can go to work for are looking for youthful enthusiasm as a way of getting their students very excited about learning English. Also, although both of these positions will generally accept someone with just about any background, there is less room to grow within the company. Despite this fact, there is generally room to grow your salary from the same position. As people teaching English as a second language tend to be on the move, or only planning to be in a location for a year, the companies love to see someone who is looking to make a career out of the job and wants to remain a teacher they can count on.
After finding your job and applying, you will turn in necessary documentation and probably have a phone interview. If the company does hiring within the United States, then you will probably have an in person interview as well. Many of the companies that I have researched have shown that this interview includes a short demo lesson. Do not be too worried if you haven’t done this before because they are really just looking to make sure you can smile and be confident in front of people; the actual teaching is less of an issue. If you’re willing to make it to this step then there is a very good chance that you’ll be hopping on a plane come April or September. The school year in Japan starts in April so this will be the primary starting point for most teachers, but additional positions are available in September to replace teachers that were not able to fulfill the necessary job requirements or for those that decided to leave. If you do make it this far, good luck on your journey and be sure to take as much away from it as you can.