• Japan Tips

Advice for Students looking to become an ALT in the Future

 We get inquiries from current students, in college or high school, asking “What can I do if I want to work as an ALT in Japan in the future?”  That’s a great question and asking Interac is the best way to get good advice.


So, if you’re interested in working as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) with Interac in Japan, here are some things that may be helpful:


  1. Japanese language skills: Knowing Japanese will make your job easier and help you better communicate with your colleagues and students. Take some Japanese language classes and practice Japanese as much as possible.
  2. Experience working with children: Working with children is a big part of being an ALT, so it’s important to gain experience working with kids. You could consider volunteering at a local school, tutoring or coaching children, or working at a summer camp.
  3. Getting a degree: Interac requires a bachelor’s degree, so make sure to earn one before applying. 
  4. TEFL/TESOL certification: It’s not a requirement, but it will help you overall with your teaching.
  5. Learn about Japanese culture: Understanding Japanese culture is essential for working in Japan. Take some time to learn about Japanese customs, etiquette, and social norms to help you better adjust to life in Japan.
  6. Having a driver’s license: A good number of ALT positions may require you to drive in Japan, so having a full license for a car will help you and open up more possibilities in Japan.
All of these are important, but first just getting a degree is the most important. 

There are some college degrees that may be particularly helpful for ALT work. You might want to consider the following subjects:


  1. Education: A degree in education can be particularly helpful for ALTs, as it provides a strong foundation in teaching methodology, child psychology, and classroom management. You’ll also have completed student-teaching requirements, which may be beneficial when working as an ALT.
  2. English/Linguistics: A degree in English or linguistics provides a strong foundation in language structure and theory, which can be particularly useful when teaching English to non-native speakers.
  3. Japanese Language/Culture: A degree in Japanese language or culture provides a deep understanding of Japanese culture, customs, and language, which can be particularly helpful when working as an ALT in Japan.
  4. International Studies: A degree in international studies provides a broad understanding of global cultures and politics, which can be helpful when working in a multicultural environment like Japan

The degree subjects among current Interac ALTs is as follows:


Field of Study




Business and Management


Behavioral and Social Sciences




Fine & Performing Arts




Natural Sciences


Medical Sciences



So you can see that there is a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, but the majority tend to be from fields that are related in some way to people in general, as compared to hard science or computing, for example.


While these degrees may be particularly helpful, it’s important to note that they are not required to become an ALT in Japan. More than a particular degree, we are looking for a person with the right personality and motivation to be an ALT. In terms of the desirable traits an ideal ALT might have, consider these:


  1. Openness: ALTs are curious, imaginative, adaptable and open to new experiences. This is very beneficial in Japan, when cultural differences are present and you are adapting to a new culture. 
  2. Agreeableness: ALTs need to be cooperative, compassionate, and empathetic. This can be helpful when working with colleagues and students in Japan, since building positive relationships is important at school.
  3. Conscientiousness: ALTs tend to be reliable, organized, and responsible. This can be beneficial when managing classroom activities, preparing lesson plans, and meeting deadlines.
  4. Emotional stability: ALTs have to be calm, even-tempered, and resilient. This is important when dealing with the stressors that can come with adapting to a new culture and working in a challenging environment.
  5. Extraversion: ALTs tend to be outgoing, sociable, and energized by interactions with others. This is useful when building relationships with students, colleagues, and members of the community.

Try to foster these kinds of traits in yourself and you’ll be on your way to being ready to become an ALT in Japan.  We find that people who have a good mix of the traits above tend to do better as ALTs.

In addition to personality traits and getting a degree and so on, there are some things to avoid prior to becoming an ALT.  These may damage your chances of getting an ALT position or make it more challenging, so be careful.


  1. Tattoos: Having visible tattoos is a no-go for ALTs working in schools, due to the attitudes towards tattoos in Japanese society.  If you choose to get inked, do it in a place that cannot be seen when you are wearing athletic wear (T-shirt & shorts) and avoid the arms, hands, face, and neck.  Also stay away from severe body modifications of all kinds.  
  2. Legal trouble: A serious criminal record of any kind will disqualify you.  We aren’t referring to parking tickets or a missed stop sign, but any offense that could result in imprisonment of any kind should be avoided.
  3. Dependents: The Interac life support system for ALTs is designed basically for single persons.  We usually arrange 1-bedroom apartments and we are not able to arrange visas etc for dependents.  
  4. Pets: Like dependents, we are not set up to find housing for pets or to support teachers in bringing pets to Japan.  Consider leaving your pet with family or rehousing if you have one.

Of course, any future ALT who is looking to be recognized as “sensei” would naturally stay away from anything that might interfere with their goals.  It’s always unfortunate for us though to meet a person who’s very qualified in every other area, but has some shadow from their past or other issue keeping them from coming to Japan.  


We hope that this article gives you some tips that will help you in the meantime while you finish school, and hopefully you’ll be ready to come to Japan and join us at Interac in a few years.  We will still be the largest private provider of ALTs to schools in Japan, so there’s no hurry, just put in the time in school and apply when you are ready.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming an Interac ALT, check out our page here.  If you’re ready to make an application (within 6 months of university graduation) click here.