Becoming a Japanese Teacher after the JET Program

Did you know that there is a need for Japanese teachers in the United States? The demand for Japanese study is increasing, while the number of Japanese teachers available to teach in the United States is decreasing. Many Japanese teachers who got their start in the 1980s are now retiring. This means it’s a great time to consider a career as a Japanese teacher!

Where Can I Teach?

Public Schools, Private schools, Saturday schools, non-profit organizations, for-profit businesses, and online schools.

How Can I Become a Japanese Teacher?

44 states offer Japanese teaching credentials and there are over 100 Japanese teacher preparation programs available.

  1. Identify state requirements
  2. Complete state requirements
  3. Apply for a job through the state Department of Education or directly to a private or charter school

What Do I Need to Become a Japanese Teacher?

  • Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
  • Transcript evaluations (if degree is from abroad)
  • Japanese language competency
  • English language proficiency
  • Teacher training from a teacher preparation program (Japanese preparation program list here)
  • Student teaching/internship, usually obtained through a teacher preparation program  (some states may allow JET experience to qualify)
  • A license or credential to teach Japanese in your state (for public schools and some private schools)
  • Permission to work in the US (if not a U.S. citizen)


Public schools require credentials, whether in the form of a teacher’s license, certificate, or credentials. Many private schools and some online schools do not require a license or certificate but make sure to check the requirement with individual schools and organizations. Many schools have special programs that will allow you to teach while obtaining your certification, so contact the school district before you apply to find out if they have this option.

Why Seek Credentials?

  • District, state, school requirement
  • Employment opportunities
  • Higher salary
  • Professional recognition

Language Competence

  • Exams
    • ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)
    • ACTFL Writing Proficiency Test (WPT)
    • State specific
  • Coursework
    • Major or minor in Japanese

Demonstration of Basic Skills

  • Exams
    • Praxis Core (demonstrates academic skills for educators)
    • Alternate exams
      • SAT, GRE, ACT, AP
    • State Specific


Visit! You can search by state, filter for Japanese, and compare certification routes side-by-side. They also have a database of teacher preparation programs, and an excellent FAQ: In fact, the Japan Foundation supported’s free webinar about Japanese language credentialing, which you can now find here:

Getting a license is complicated, but don’t give up! There are communities of Japanese teachers that can give you advice. Visit this list of Japanese teachers’ associations to find one near you:

Scholarship opportunities are available through

JET Specific Recommendations

JET alumni are encouraged to pursue teacher certifications in other subject areas in addition to Japanese. Becoming certified in teaching Japanese and social sciences (e.g., history, government, business, etc.), for instance, makes them more marketable for teaching jobs. A few states do not offer a teaching certificate in Japanese. In these states, teachers must be certified to teach some other subject area as a springboard (ie: math, P.E., American History), or receive an “emergency certificate” which may last a year or longer while the teacher works toward getting a more permanent license.

JETs should consider taking online courses while they are working in Japan to improve their Japanese or work toward a teaching certification.

Resources for Studying Japanese

CLAIR language courses:

Erin’s challenge:

All Japanese All the Time:


Teaching Japanese After JET