Interac teachers enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands of school children every year by delivering interactive and exciting English lessons. Interac’s teachers, known as ALTs, or Assistant Language Teachers, work in the Japanese school system to enrich children’s lives by sharing their knowledge of English and communication skills, and giving insights into other cultures.
Founded in 1972, Interac is Japan’s largest private provider of professional foreign teachers to the Japanese government through its ALT program. Since April 2014, Interac has become part of Link and Motivation Group (TSE:2170). Link and Motivation Group has a range of interests and subsidiaries in the business consultancy, education, recruiting, and hospitality sectors in Japan.
During the application process and leading up to your arrival in Japan you will be working with LJC America, and Link and Motivation’s recruitment arm, Link Japan Careers (LJC). We will guide you through the application process, obtaining your work visa, and your introduction to Interac’s five regional companies.
Interac employs nearly 3,500 staff in Japan across a network of 13 offices. Around 3,200 of these employees are non-Japanese.
Your experience in Japan will set you apart from your peers. When you teach in Japan, you will find that there is much more to be gained than a paycheck. Your experience will shape your future by providing you valuable career experience, experience living in a different culture, and the lifestyle of freedom and growth you have been waiting for.
The application process itself can take approximately one to three months, dependent on our recruiting schedule. Once you have applied, we will review your application. If we are interested in continuing with your application, we will contact you to schedule an initial interview by phone. This phone interview can be scheduled anywhere from a few days to several weeks away depending on how soon we will be in your area conducting in-person interviews. If you pass the phone interview, we will invite you to the in-person interview. Once we have completed the in-person interview and received responses back from your references, we will forward your application to LJC for introduction to Interac’s five regional companies. This decision on whether or not to offer you employment may take an additional 1-3 weeks depending on their current workload.
A criminal background check will be required as part of the documentation needed for your work visa. You will be instructed to obtain one after an offer of employment is made. Until this is received, all offers of employment are conditional and Interac reserves the right to not apply for your Certificate of Eligibility. Detailed instructions on how to obtain your criminal background check will be provided and vary based on country of residence.
Here is the list of the general documents that we will collect on Interac’s behalf to apply for your work visa. Once you reach this stage, we will provide you a detailed list and description of the necessary documents. The Japanese Bureau of Immigration has strict regulations as to the specifications for each of these items, so please wait until you have received instructions from us before collecting these documents:
1) Two ID Photos
2) Passport Photocopy
4) Diploma Photocopy*
5) Official University Document*
6) Criminal Background Check (upon being offered a position)
7) Photocopies of any other pertinent certificates such as TESOL or JLPT certificates
*Please note that if you are a future graduate or if you have recently graduated within the last six months of your interview, we understand you may not be able to provide a diploma photocopy or an official university document right away. While we can begin the application process without these documents, we may choose to pause your application until closer to the time when these documents will be available. They are required in order to obtain your work visa, and their availability will determine the earliest available arrival in Japan for you.
If you do not have a passport, you will need to apply for one before you can be recommended for the position. Passport processing times are unpredictable, so we encourage you to expedite your passport paperwork. Further, if your passport will expire before arrival in Japan, or within six months after your arrival, you will need to get it renewed before you can be recommended.
Interac requires two references to respond to our request before you can be considered for a position. We recommend that you provide the email addresses and phone numbers of three or more references in case one is not able to respond in a timely manner. We will begin contacting your references after you pass the phone interview. Please inform your references that we will be contacting them and check that they are able to answer a few short questions about your work or studies, as some companies are only able to confirm dates of employment.
Your references need to be someone with a supervisory position over you. This would include a supervisor or manager, a college professor, or the leader of a volunteer group. Please choose someone who you worked directly under, and therefore would be able to speak to your performance. For professors or teachers, please choose someone who has worked with you recently or has worked with you enough to be able to give us sufficient information. If you have teaching experience, especially if you have taught abroad, a reference from the school(s) you taught at is highly recommended.
If you are invited to an in-person interview, please plan to set aside the entire day. In the morning, an information session will be presented. You will learn more about Interac, life in Japan, the duties and expectations of Interac ALTs, and discuss details regarding salary, insurance, housing, and other concerns. After, you will perform a demonstration lesson that will be recorded. In the afternoon, individual interviews will be conducted. Each interview is about 30 minutes long. You will also be responsible for completing an online grammar test before you attend the in-person interview.
Assuming at least two references have replied, your file will be sent to LJC (Link Japan Careers), Interac’s recruitment arm. They will forward your file to Interac’s five regional companies, who will decide whether or not to offer you a placement. This may take 3-4 weeks or a little longer over the Christmas, New Year, and Golden Week (first week of May) holiday periods.
Many of the positions available to overseas hires (candidates not within Japan) are in rural areas. Most of these positions will require driving. Though we will happily consider any location preferences you may have, Interac is more likely to entertain the application of a candidate who is willing to take any placement and is willing to drive. We highly recommend that you are flexible with your location preference, meaning you are open to living in most if not all prefectures and accepting a rural assignment. There are times when Interac will not have an opening in an area or type of area where you have expressed a preference; in this case, we will offer a suitable alternative. Positions in urban areas like Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka are very competitive. They are usually filled by domestic candidates who are already living and working in Japan.
There are several things impacting when we will be able to notify you of your placement. We must wait for current ALTs to confirm whether they will be choosing to stay for another year. The Boards of Education must decide how many ALTs they need and at what schools. This decision usually cannot be made until January, when budgets are confirmed, which gives Interac a small window to match candidates arriving in Japan in March. In addition we sometimes have late starting contracts, and emergency placements that need to be filled. For this reason, we may not know your placement a month, or even less, from your actual planned arrival in Japan. LJC and the regional Interac companies work hard to get your placement information to you in a timely manner, but this is another reason why flexibility is a quality we look for in our candidates.
You are required by law to enroll in a health insurance plan recognized by the Japanese government. There are two primary health insurance plans in Japan National Health Insurance (NHI) and Social Insurance (Shakai Hoken, or ‘Shaho’). Which plan you are eligible for depends on the particular details of your position in Japan.
For National Health Insurance, in your first year, you can expect to pay about 5,000 yen per calendar month. In the second year of employment, this fee will increase as it is based on your level of income in the previous year, and will generally max out to about 13,000 yen per month on average. Enrollment in National Pension, about 16,000 yen per month, is also compulsory for employees who have NHI.
Under Shakai Hoken, it is a fixed amount depending on your monthly salary, generally about 30,000 yen per month. This amount includes your pension contribution, and does not vary from year to year.
For most ALTs, there is no large difference in coverage between these two systems. Both cover 70% of medical costs, including prescriptions. Medical costs are relatively inexpensive in Japan compared to countries such as the USA. A trip to the doctor and being prescribed some medicine will generally cost about 1500 to 2500 yen.
More details regarding insurance will be given at the information session and interview or can be found on our website.
Interac ALTs must wear business attire during initial orientation and training, on all teaching assignments, or when visiting the office.
Clothing standards in Japan are conservative and professional, so plan to dress more formally than you may be used to. For men, a business suit, with a button up shirt and tie is required. You should have a short, traditional haircut. If well-groomed, facial hair is usually acceptable, but some schools may request that you remain clean-shaven.
For women, smart professional attire, inclusive of skirts below the knees or business-style suits are required. If wearing a skirt, hose are required. A button up blouse or other professional shirt should be selected. Heels are not required for women, but do wear dress shoes.
Tattoos in Japan are associated with persons involved in organized crime, and are definitely not in line with the image and expectations of a teacher or sensei. You will be expected to keep tattoos covered while on Interac business, which may include wearing shorts and a T-shirt for school activities such as Sports Day. In addition, you will need to keep tattoos covered in the communities where you are teaching and living. If you have tattoos, consider carefully if you are able to keep them covered. Note that cover-up make-up is often not sufficient in Japan’s hot, humid climate, and you will be moving around a lot while working with the children. Sleeves, collars and other clothing must cover the tattoo even with arms raised, or when kneeling or bowing.
Non-traditional piercings should be removed. Standard hair colors are required, and conservative hairstyles are recommended.
To meet the demands of the Japanese school cycle, approximately 85% of new ALTs will begin teaching in April, which is the beginning of the Japanese school year. We do have a smaller number of positions available between August and December, with a few late start and fill-in positions other times of the year. These positions fill up quickly, so be prepared to start at the beginning of the school year when the most positions are available.
Teaching assignments usually start approximately five to ten days after arriving in Japan and after the initial orientation and training is completed.
Interac ALTs work in Japanese government schools. Most ALT assignments include a combination of elementary and junior high schools. In certain circumstances, you may have the opportunity to teach at a high school. Some Interac ALTs will also teach at special needs schools or work with special needs students. You may also find yourself working at a kindergarten or pre-school.
Please note that there are a limited number of high school placements available. Candidates interested in a high school placement will need to be extremely flexible with location and be prepared to teach at another school level if no high school placements are available.
Generally, Interac ALTs live in their own private apartments. Interac will assist you in searching for an economical and convenient apartment. If required, Interac will act as a guarantor to secure a place for you to live. ALTs are personally responsible for the moving-in costs, furnishings, rent, and utility charges each month. The setup costs for an apartment range from 250,000 to 300,000 yen. The rent ranges from 50,000 (rural) to 80,000 (urban) per month.
These set-up costs include the total amount for the first one to three months of rent up-front. While some apartments may be listed as “Internet ready,” this does not always mean that there is immediate Internet access. It may take up to a month after moving in to be able to use the Internet.
Due to strict housing regulations in Japan, you are not permitted to bring your pets with you. We advise that you make housing arrangements for your pets in your home country before going to Japan.
Though some Interac ALTs travel by bicycle, train, or bus, most of the positions offered to overseas candidates require driving. In rural areas, driving is usually the most convenient way to get to school, or might be the only realistic mode of transportation available. If you are willing to take a driving position in Japan, this will increase the number of locations where you can be placed and improve your chances of being hired.
If you are in a driving position, Interac will set up an agreement between you and a rental car company, and Interac will pay part of the rental fee. You will also receive a position allowance in addition to the base salary if you are in a driving position.
The rental car is both for you to use for work and for your free time, so there is no issue if you hope to use it to run errands after school, to go traveling in the region during weekends or holidays, and so on. Insurance, regular maintenance, and inspection are included in the rental fee (Tires and negligent accidents, etc. are not covered). More information about driving in Japan will be given if you are successfully invited to an interview.
In addition to a driver’s license from your home country, you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to legally drive in Japan. Please do not apply for an IDP until Interac has advised you to do so. You can use an IDP in Japan for 12 months from the date it is issued. To successfully use your IDP to drive in Japan, your home country driver’s license must be issued no later than three months prior to your arrival in Japan. After one year your IDP will expire, and you will need to get Japanese driver’s license.
Generally, the working hours are 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Weekends and public holidays are typically off, however a few times of year, there may be some special school or work-related events that fall outside of the usual times and days.
While Interac ALTs may be at school for up to 40 hours per week, actual teaching time will be 29.5 hours or less. The exact number of working hours will be determined by the placement the Interac ALT is assigned to.
Most Interac ALTs teach approximately 20 to 25 lessons per week, depending on the school. The remainder of their assigned work time includes preparing lessons and participating in designated activities with students, such as eating school lunch together. Depending on their school, Interac ALTs may lead the class for the entire lesson time or for a portion of the lesson. During this time, there may be minimal input from the Japanese teacher of English.
All new Interac ALTs are offered a comprehensive initial orientation and training program in which they receive information on adapting to life in Japan and training on teaching and working in the schools. Initial orientation and training begins with pre-arrival tasks using Interac’s e-learning platform around four weeks prior to departure for Japan. Interac ALTs have access to basic Japanese lessons online, paid for by Interac for the first six months, with the option to continue to higher levels at a discounted price. Interac also maintains a website where lesson plans, flash cards, and other classroom tools are made available once you begin teaching. Ongoing training and periodic observations allow trainers and experienced teachers to give further tips and advice to newer teachers.
Interac ALTs enjoy three days off for the O-bon holiday in August, and winter break from December 29-January 3. Ten additional vacation days are also available after the first three months of your contract have been completed. Half of these additional vacation days are for you to request days off throughout the contract year, and the remaining half are scheduled in advance by the company. You will receive a ‘Yearly Schedule’ within the first months of your contract that will include the days planned for these holidays. You can also expect to be off for national holidays (for example, there were 15 national holidays in 2020, although this varies slightly each year), such as the ones that comprise ‘Golden Week’ in late April/Early May.
Most Interac ALT positions start in early April and last until March the following year. If you begin at another time of year, your contract will end the following March, at the end of that school year. Only applicants who are able to commit to the full term of the assignment are considered eligible for employment.
Most teachers stay with Interac for 3+ years, but Interac also has teachers who have been working with the company for five or more years.
Most Interac ALTs teach at one main “base” school and visit a number of other schools. The average assignment is between three to five schools. An ALT will only work at one or two schools per day. Depending on the Board of Education (BOE), some ALTs may work in up to 15 schools. You will receive your actual school assignment schedule after you have arrived in Japan.
Elementary school students are between 6 and 12 years old. Junior high school students are between 12 and 15 years old. High school students are between 15 to 18 years old.
A typical workday for an ALT will involve going to school early to greet the students, planning and teaching lessons throughout the day, eating lunch with the kids, cleaning the school, and participating in after school activities. A more detailed work day can be found in the job description document.
Interac offers a salary starting at 215,000 yen per month. You will receive your full salary even during summer and winter holiday months. More details on Interac’s salary structure will be available to those invited to an in-person interview.
You will receive a monthly salary. In line with Japanese business practices, your salary is deposited into your account on the 20 th of the following month. For example, your April salary is paid on May 20th. When payday falls on a weekend or national holiday, the salary is deposited into the account on the previous business trading day. Depending on the starting date, the first salary will be received approximately six to eight weeks after you start employment.
Basic Japanese lessons are offered online. These introductory courses are paid for by the company, with the option to continue to higher levels at a discounted price. The six-months worth of courses that Interac ALTs are registered for include over 300 video lessons, including both lessons on Japanese vocab, grammar, conversation, and even culture.
You are responsible for organizing and funding your own transportation to Japan, including airfare.
We ask that you do not buy your plane ticket until you have been instructed to do so by your assigned branch. Note that you may be asked to fly to an airport other than Narita International Airport (Tokyo).
LJC in Tokyo will provide you with all of the necessary documentation, including a Certificate of Eligibility*, issued by the Japanese immigration authorities, to apply for your Japanese visa. You will be required to submit the documentation to the Japanese embassy or consulate that has jurisdiction over the area where you reside. The process for submitting your application varies between country, embassy, and consulate.
*Please be aware that having more than one Certificate of Eligibility application in your name will cause one or both of them to be rejected by Japanese immigration. Therefore, if you have recently declined a position with another company please verify with them that they have not submitted any immigration paperwork on your behalf. Failure to cancel any other CoE submissions will delay processing your CoE for your position with Interac, and may cause your arrival to be delayed.
You may need a transit visa if you need to stop in one or more places on your way to Japan when traveling from your home country.
For example, if you are flying from Jamaica, you will likely have to make a stop-over at a major airport in the United States. Even if you are not leaving the airport, you may still be required to apply for a transit visa. United States transit (C) visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons traveling in immediate and continuous transit through the United States en route to another country. If it is necessary for you to apply for a transit visa, the company can provide you with supporting documents upon request.
Online orientation pre-departure using Interac’s e-learning platform, and initial orientation and training upon arrival are available to all new Interac ALTs.
You are responsible for your own transportation costs (if applicable) to the venue/hotel where the initial orientation and training will be held. Once there, all Interac-related travel costs will be reimbursed by the company.
Interac will organize and cover the expenses for the accommodations (hotel or similar shared-room type) during the initial orientation and training. Prior to your arrival in Japan, you will be provided with this information, including directions from the airport to the initial orientation and training venue/hotel or placement location. Should you arrive in Japan earlier than the date requested, you will be responsible for arranging your own accommodations.
You will be offered a comprehensive initial orientation and training program upon arrival. This will help you learn about Japanese schools, the company, and to get accustomed to life in Japan. Sessions include an introduction to the Japanese school system, school activities, and teaching skills as well as how to develop life skills and the social awareness needed to live in Japan.
We recommend that you bring 500,000 yen to ensure a smooth transition. This money will be used to pay the initial costs for your apartment and other expenses such as household supplies. Remember: you will not receive your first salary payment until the 20th of the month following the month your contract comes into effect (i.e. approximately 7 weeks after arriving in Japan).
Though you may be tempted to try to “get by” with less, we have learned from experience that the full 500,000 is necessary to properly establish yourself in Japan.
If you feel it will be difficult to save this amount, successful candidates may be offered some financial assistance (up to 250,000 yen) in the form of a short-term loan with an interest of 2% per year on the principal amount borrowed. Your loan will be deposited into your bank account when it is opened, so please do not plan on using this money for at least two to three weeks after you arrive.
Based on our experience, we recommend you prepare 500,000 yen to have upon arrival to cover the start-up costs on an apartment and to live off until your first salary payment. A little over half of this money will be needed during training for your apartment deposit and rent, so plan accordingly. Your branch will give you more details on how much you will need to have available during training before you arrive.
The best way to bring your funds is in cash. Be sure your funds are in currencies widely accepted in Japan such as Japanese Yen, US Dollars, Euros or Pounds Sterling (issued by the Bank of England). Please be careful to avoid Pounds Sterling issued by non-Bank of England institutions (e.g. Northern Ireland and Scotland) as Japanese banks usually do not accept them.
Drawing your money from an ATM in Japan using a Visa Debit Card is another option. However, it is very unreliable and we do not recommend doing this. Every year there are a small group of new ALTs that arrive in Japan and find their cards won’t work. This causes stress and difficulties for all parties involved. Even if you are able to use it, usually there are restrictions on how much you can withdraw at a time. If you choose this option, please check what your bank’s daily withdrawal limit is and if there are any international fees. Let them know the date you are departing so they do not lock your account thinking the card has been stolen.
Lastly, you may consider using a credit card or Traveler’s checks. While it is good to have a credit card for an emergency, it is not recommended bring your cash on a credit card. Traveler’s checks are also not advisable, as they are slowly being phased out, and most Japanese banks do not accept them.
The simple answer is yes. In Japan, the main types of tax you will have to pay are income and residence tax. An 10% consumption tax is charged on all purchases, although this is usually included in the price shown. If not, companies are required to clearly disclose this.
There are also taxes for owning cars and property, but these rarely impact Interac ALTs.
Income tax in Japan is determined by your status of residence, source of income, and total taxable income earned. It will be automatically deducted from your salary on the basis of expected earnings.
All residents of Japan are required to pay residence tax. The amount of the tax depends on your income in Japan the previous year. Therefore, if you are employed by a company, you will be required to pay. You should pay tax to the municipality in which you were living on the 1st of January. You are responsible for paying the residence tax, so Interac does not deduct it from your salary.
For information regarding tax responsibilities in your home country while you are living and working in Japan, please contact the relevant tax authorities.
Interac’s Staff Preparation Program (SPP) offers an opportunity for current Interac ALTs to learn more about working ‘behind-the-scenes’ as a trainer, manager, or recruiter. The SPP is a year-long entryway for career advancement within Interac. This includes seminar sessions and on-the-job experience in an administrative role to help start you on an administrative path. The training not only focuses on building a knowledge base of Interac management principles and know-how, but it also gives many opportunities to grow your communication and management skills that will be useful in any field. For SPP Trainees, the role comes with an increase in salary accordingly. Base required skills include conversational Japanese and the ability to drive in Japan.
Veteran ALTs may also be asked to become a Head Teacher in their area. Although Head Teachers still work in schools most of the time, they also have some additional tasks, such as conducting training sessions in the local area, or regularly checking in with new ALTs to support them in their first steps in Japan. ALTs who are assigned a Head Teacher role also receive additional compensation for the responsibilities.