Frequently Asked Questions

Contents:

Top Questions

Yes! Of course, if you live in Japan, knowing and having the ability to use a small amount of Japanese is very helpful. However, it’s not a problem if you don’t. We recommend that if you do not have any Japanese language skills you start some online self-study now. If you do some self-study before coming to Japan you will pick up basic words and phrases quickly when here.

Yes! In fact, a good portion of new Interac ALTs have never taught before. We will give you all of the knowledge and skills you need to become a great ALT.

Yes, if you are graduating in the next six months. There is a place to note this on the online application form.If you live outside of the countries listed above, we complete all of the recruiting process online. It is likely that you will be invited to interview by Skype.

Click here for more information about our recruiting process.

Yes! If it is impossible for you to attend a seminar, and you pass the initial resume screening and go on to the phone interview stage, you can discuss how best to proceed with your application with your recruiter. If you live outside of the United States, Canada, Jamaica, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland we complete all of the recruiting process online. Click here for more information about our recruiting process.

Unless specifically stated, the details on our requirements page are not flexible. Click here to review these requirements. In the second placement phase, we discuss the specific positions with you and provide details on your arrival in Japan. This is the phase where you will also be put into either the regular or alternate tracks.

This is complicated. The Interac recruiting process is intended to only accommodate the applicants themselves. From time to time, we do receive applications from couples as two separate applications. We do our best to place them into positions near each other.

If your spouse or dependent(s) are not Interac ALTs, we cannot offer any support, advice, or sponsorship for their immigration status.

Your accommodations are arranged by Interac on your behalf and are intended for single occupancy. It is impossible for us to find alternative accommodations.

Interac teachers enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands of school children every year by delivering interactive and exciting English lessons. Commonly known as ALTs, which stands for assistant language teacher, Interac’s teachers, working in the Japanese school system, 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. Interac is also a significant player in providing professional teachers for commercial and government organizations.

Since April 2014, Interac has become part of the Link and Motivation Group (TSE:2170). The Link and Motivation Group has a range of interests and subsidiaries in the business consultancy, education, recruiting, and hospitality sectors in Japan.

Click here to find out more about Interac.

Interac employs nearly 3,000 staff in Japan across a network of 13 offices. Around 2,750 of these employees are non-Japanese.

You will find the most comprehensive information about becoming an Interac ALT on this website. With rare exception, the answers to many of the questions we receive can be found here.If you must contact us with a question, we advise you to call us by phone. Click here for our global contact details. Email is not an efficient method for contacting us.

Recruiting Process

If you pass the initial application screening, a recruiter will contact you for a phone screening to find out more about you and ask some questions regarding your work history, education, and interest in working and living in Japan. If the recruiter feels you have potential, you will be invited to an informational seminar and face-to-face interview. In the final stage, the files of recommended candidates will be evaluated by Interac’s Global Resource Management Division in Tokyo, who will make the final decision as to whether or not to offer employment.

Yes. Your recruiter will give you more information on how to obtain a criminal background check as this process varies from country to country.

1. A copy of the photo page/inside cover of your passport.

2. Two identical ID photos in business attire, taken within the last 3 months in exact accordance with specifications as listed here.

3. Resume (in addition to your application).

4. A photocopy of your university degree.

5. One original, non returnable, certified letter of graduation that certifies your graduation status OR one original academic transcript issued by your university.

6. Copy of your TEFL, CELTA, TESOL, PGCE or other type of certification if applicable.

7. Results of your Criminal Background Check

8. Copy of your driving licence (if applicable)

We will also be providing you with a copy of the list once you have successfully passed the phone interview.

In addition, if you do not have a passport, we recommend you apply for one immediately and have it processed as quickly as possible. Passport processing times are unpredictable, and we do not want a delayed passport being the reason you cannot go to Japan.

Interac requires two references 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 usually 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 give a reference.


Some companies are willing to confirm dates of employment but will not give an actual reference. In such cases you will need to provide an alternative reference. Checking with the person or organization beforehand will ensure you do not encounter this situation.


Your references need to be someone with a supervisory position over you. This would include a supervisor or manager, a professor, or the leader of a volunteer group. We prefer that work references are from someone you work or worked under directly. Often, an immediate supervisor is better than a manager with whom you have or had little contact. 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 information seminar and interview, please plan to set aside the entire day for the day’s activities. In the morning, an information seminar will be presented. You will learn about Interac, life in Japan, and the duties and expectations of Interac ALTs and discuss details regarding salary, insurance, housing, and other concerns. At sometime during the day’s events, you will take a short grammar test, perform a demonstration lesson, and need to turn in any outstanding documents.


In the afternoon, individual interviews will be conducted. Each interview is about 30 minutes long.

Assuming at least two references have replied and we receive all of your documents, the Global Resource Management Division at Interac’s Head Office in Tokyo will notify you within one month of your file arriving in Japan. This may take longer over the Christmas, New Year, and Golden Week (first week of May) holiday periods.


Please note that we cannot process your application or determine if you are a successful candidate until we have received all of the required documentation.

When you reach the placement stage of the recruiting process, you will be invited to join an invitation-only Facebook group where you can connect with current and incoming Interac ALTs. This group is a great place to ask questions, exchange ideas, and make new friends. You can also get inside knowledge on things like what to bring and tips and tricks for surviving your first few weeks in Japan. It is likely you will be an active member of one or more Interac related Facebook groups throughout your employment.

About the Position

Many of the positions available to overseas hires (candidates not within Japan) are in rural areas. Many 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. To ensure a smooth placement, 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.

One of the biggest sources of frustration for both successful candidates and Interac is that the Board of Education in each potential location can be very slow in confirming its requirements. The Global Resource Management Division at Interac’s Head Office in Tokyo works hard to get your offer of employment to you in a timely manner, but you may not hear about your placement (the location where you will be teaching) until one month or less before your actual planned departure date. This is another reason we ask you to be flexible with your location preference. Click here to find out more about our regular and alternate tracks.

You are required by law to enroll in a health insurance plan recognized by the Japanese government. All new Interac ALTs will be able to enroll in the National Health Insurance (NHI) system. In the first year, you can expect to pay about 5,000 yen per calendar month. In the second year of employment it is likely that this fee will increase as it is based on your level of income in the previous year. More details regarding insurance will be given at the information seminar and interview.

Japan is a very conservative country! 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.

For men, a dress shirt, tie, and business-style pants are required.

For women, smart, professional attire, which includes skirts below the knees or business-style suits, is required on all Interac-related business.

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. As an ALT, there is an expectation that you will take part in school festivals and sports/club activities. In these activities, you may be required to wear shorts and t-shirts, and therefore any visible tattoo must be covered. In addition, living in the communities where you work will require that your tattoos are covered at all times. Therefore, living and working in Japan will prove to be a significant challenge if you have tattoos.

We offer two main start times. About 75% of new positions commence to coincide with the start of the Japanese school year. The other main start time is August/September.

We do have a smaller number of positions in other months to fill off-season and unexpected openings. Candidates interested in these positions must be willing to leave on short notice, take whatever position becomes available, and to drive in Japan.

Click here for more details about our recruiting process.

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.

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 thoroughly assists 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 in suburban or rural areas to 350,000 in Tokyo or other urban areas. The rent ranges from 50,000 (rural) to 80,000 (urban) per month. These set-up costs include the total amount for the first two 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.

Some Interac ALTs travel to school by bicycle, train, or bus. All Interac ALTs are reimbursed for work-related transportation expenses. Most of the positions offered to overseas candidates require driving. In addition to your drivers license, you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to legally drive in Japan. Please do not apply for an IDP until we have advised you to do so.

While Interac ALTs may be at school for up to 40 hours per week. The exact number of working hours will be determined by the placement the Interac ALT is assigned to. General hours are 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Apart from attendance at special school events, weekends and public holidays are generally days off.

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. Interac maintains a website where lesson plans, flash cards, and other classroom tools are made available. Ongoing training and periodic observations allow trainers and experienced teachers to give further tips and advice to newer teachers.

There is usually a two week break from the end of December until early January for the Christmas and New Year period that starts around December 23rd and goes until around January 4th. Actual dates for all holiday periods will be determined by your schedule.

Within your contract, you are also entitled to 5 personal days after the first 90 days of continuous employment. In Japan, we recommend that these days are used to cover days when you are sick.

Most Interac ALT positions start in early April or late August and last until March the following year. Only applicants who are able to commit to the full term of the assignment are considered eligible for employment.

Some instructors have been with Interac since the late 1980s. Most teachers stay with Interac for 2-3 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. Depending on the Board of Education (BOE), some ALTs may work in 15 schools or more. The actual school assignment schedule is usually not determined until close to the start of the academic year in April. It is not usual to visit more than one school in a single day.

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.

As an Interac ALT, you will most likely receive a gross annual salary of approximately ¥2.4 – ¥2.7 million per year. Under our Standard Compensation System, full-year contracts will usually run from April 1st to March 31st of the following year. Salaries are paid in equal monthly payments. Typically, the first and last months are not a full month of teaching, so your salary will be adjusted accordingly.

Your salary is deposited into your bank account on the 20th 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 preceding business day. Depending on the starting date, your first salary will be received approximately six to eight weeks after the start of employment.

Although we do not offer lessons directly, we have partnered with a leading E-learning provider to offer online lessons up to N3 level at a significant discount. You’ll be able to get more information once you complete the interview process.

Arrival

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 the Global Resource Management Division at Interac’s Head Office in Tokyo, usually no later than one month before your departure. You may be asked to fly to an airport other than Narita International Airport (Tokyo).

Interac’s Global Resource Management Division in Tokyo will provide you with all of the necessary documentation, including a Certificate of Eligibility issued by the Japanese immigration authorities, to go and 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. Click here for links to all Japanese embassies, consulates, and permanent missions abroad.

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. Interac will provide you with the supporting documents you need to apply for a transit visa.

Some companies are willing to confirm dates of employment but will not give an actual reference. In such cases you will need to provide an alternative reference. Checking with the person or organization beforehand will ensure you do not encounter this situation.

Your references need to be someone with a supervisory position over you. This would include a supervisor or manager, a professor, or the leader of a volunteer group. We prefer that work references are from someone you work or worked under directly. Often, an immediate supervisor is better than a manager with whom you have or had little contact. 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.

Orientation

Online orientation pre-departure 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 thorough 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. Depending on your placement location, you might be invited to attend the orientation and training directly with your branch. We will inform you of this once you have accepted a placement and prior to your arrival.

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 working in elementary schools as well as how to develop life skills and the social awareness needed to live in Japan.

For men, a dress shirt, tie, and business-style pants are required for attending the orientation and training; for women, smart, professional attire, which includes skirts below the knees or business-style suits is required.

Financial

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 until your first payday. Please be prepared to bring the majority of the advised funds with you.

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 principle 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.

It is important that your money is available to you in accessible cash. This can be in the form of cash, traveler’s checks, or on a Visa Debit Card. You are strongly advised not to have your money on a credit card.

Visa Debit Cards are useable in ATM machines at most post offices and 7-Eleven convenience stores but you may be limited in how much cash you can withdraw. Be sure to let your bank know your travel plans and ensure your card is useable. Many ATMs do not accept MasterCard, Maestro, or Cirrus branded cards.

No matter how you bring your money to Japan, be sure to bring your funds in major, easily convertible currencies 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 or in Northern Ireland as there has been cases where a new Interac ALT has experienced trouble exchanging at Japanese banks.

 

More details will be provided during the placement process.

If you require a loan, please inform us at the interview stage. You will need to provide details on exactly how much you will need. Waiting until just before arriving in Japan will result in your loan payment being delayed. The way the loan is processed is:

  • At the placement stage, you request the loan by email from the Tokyo office (up to 250,000 yen maximum, repayable over a maximum of ten months; repayment must be completed within the term of your contract).
  • The Tokyo office will allocate the funds.
  • During the initial orientation and training in Japan, submit a loan application form to your branch.
  • Once your bank account is set up (after moving to your placement), Interac will deposit the loan amount into your account.

Please note that you will need to bring enough cash to live on until the loan can be deposited into your account, which takes approximately two to three weeks.

The simple answer is yes. Click here for more details regarding taxes in Japan.

Advancement opportunities are available from time to time. These positions will come with a suitable remuneration.

Health and Personal Matters

Generally, it should be no problem for women to take care of their specific health and sanitary needs in Japan. We recommend however that you bring enough personal products with you to last the first few months before transitioning to Japanese products. Specific information can be provided in a dignified manner by members of our female staff during the initial orientation and training.

This is totally possible. However, if you are placed in a more isolated area, you may either have to be flexible or prepared to travel to another town or bigger city. You can find plenty of information online about faith groups and churches in Japan.

Generally, it shouldn’t be a problem as long as you follow a few simple customs. Japanese are often closed and conservative when it comes to private matters. In more isolated areas, many personal matters are simply not understood well or discussed openly. Our simple advice is to get an accurate read of your situation and environment first and then decide how best to proceed. Click here for more information on the LGBTQ community in Japan.

If you require larger sized clothing, living outside of a major city may be difficult. For shoes, stores generally carry stock in sizes up to US 10/26 cm. Clothing is generally stocked up to size L and sometimes XL in men’s ranges. Many non-Japanese find that, although they fit the Japanese sizes, they often struggle to find garments with long enough sleeves or legs. Larger sized shoes and clothing are generally found only in shops catering to those needs. You may find it is more useful to shop online.

Technology

Yes, if your mobile device is SIM free, you will be able to purchase a Japanese SIM with domestic carriers such as Y! mobile and UQ mobile. If your device is not SIM free, Japanese SIMs will not work with your phone.

In most cases, yes. Modern laptop computers can be powered by a range of voltages. You are advised to contact your laptop or electronic device manufacturer or retailer for definitive information. Electricity in Japan is supplied at 110 volts.

In most cases, yes. It pays to do your research beforehand to make sure that the hardware is compatible with the Japanese electric supply as well as digital rights management. If you are into gaming, you can join the special gamers Facebook Group once you get to Japan.

The internet is generally free of restrictions in Japan. There are laws regarding certain activities, and enforcement of these laws is strong and on the rise. These laws and associated enforcement regard things like objectionable material, on and offline security threats, and intellectual property rights. Overall, everything, including services such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Skype, works in Japan the same as it most likely does in your home country.

Sometimes, it can be tricky to do so through sites based in your home country. For example, on iTunes, as long as you have a credit card that is registered in your home country or you use gift cards purchased in your home country, you can continue to use your home country’s iTunes Store. If you use a credit card registered in Japan or gift cards purchased in Japan, you will be forced to use the Japanese iTunes Store, which may have different content available. Amazon Japan is very popular and available in both English and Japanese. Even if you don’t have a credit card, you can still make purchases by making cash payment over the counter at a convenience store.