The JET Program is your opportunity to help promote mutual understanding between Japan and the United States, gain valuable work experience abroad, and see a side of Japan that few ever do. As teaching experience and Japanese ability (for the ALT position) are not required, the program offers students from all backgrounds the chance to live in Japan. It is also the only exchange program sponsored by the Japanese government, ensuring participants a high level of security and support.
In addition to the stated requirements, applicants must be willing and able to adapt to a culture different from their own, be both responsible and flexible, and should show a genuine interest in learning more about Japan, Japanese culture and the Japanese language.
Each year, there are many more applicants for the program than there are available positions. Because of this, competition can be very intense. In previous years approximately 25%-35% of applicants have been offered positions in the program, but this number changes frequently.
Contracts are for one year and begin the day after you arrive in Japan and end exactly one year later. In principle JET Participants are allowed to renew their contracts up to two times, based upon mutual agreement between the JET and the contracting organization. Some contracting organizations will also offer JET participants with excellent work performance the chance to renew their contract four times for a total of five years.
The starting salary for JET participants is 3,360,000 yen per year, which is more than enough to cover living expenses in Japan. Your salary will increase with every year you spend on the program. The salary for a second year JET is 3,600,000 yen, 3,900,000 yen for third year JETs, and 3,960,000 yen for fourth year and fifth year JETs. Keep in mind that some money will be withdrawn every month to cover your health insurance, unemployment insurance, pension, and taxes (if applicable). All JET Participants are exempt from paying United States taxes on their JET income. Additionally, American ALTs qualify for a two year exemption from Japanese taxes as well.
There is no age limit for application to the JET Program. While the program is mainly targeted at young college graduates in their twenties and thirties, applicants of any age may apply.
While we encourage interested applicants to study the language, there are no Japanese requirements for the Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) position. However for the Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) position, applicants are expected to have very strong Japanese language abilities. (Roughly around N2 or N1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test [JLPT]). People applying to the JET Program do not need to have a teaching certificate or TEFL certification.
While you may apply from abroad, your application will have to go through the Japanese embassy in Washington D.C. and you must interview either at the embassy or a consulate within the United States. All successful applicants must depart on the assigned date from a designated airport within the United States. The only exception to this is if you currently live in Japan. If you are selected for the JET Program, you may be allowed to go directly to the orientation in Tokyo without returning to the US. However please remember that even if you live in Japan you will still have to interview in the United States.
Your contracting organization and placement is decided by CLAIR based on a number of factors in their request form and your application form. While you may make specific placement requests on your application, we cannot guarantee you will be placed there. If you reject your placement, you will be disqualified from the program.
Host institutions are responsible for providing adequate housing for each JET; however, participants are usually expected to pay for their own rent and utilities. Participants may also be responsible for providing a security deposit before moving into an apartment. JETs almost always live by themselves, but are often near other program participants.
You can expect living expenses to be comparable to the United States. Though the JET salary is more than enough to cover living costs no matter your placement, rent, transportation, food, and other expenses can vary wildly depending on the area you live, with living costs in urban placements generally being quite a bit higher than costs in rural areas. Rent will typically range from 20,000 yen to 50,000, though many JETs do pay less or more than those amounts.
Yes, it is possible for an ALT to become a CIR or for a CIR to become an ALT while on the program. However the ability to change depends on a large number of factors, and is in reality very uncommon. Our best advice would be to apply for the position you are most interested in from the outset and expect to fill that job for the duration of your contract.