JET Program: Everything you need to know about the program

14 Nov 2022
7 mins read
Written by Team Instarem

So, you want to go to Japan? The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program) is a great way to do that! It’s a program sponsored by the Japanese government that invites young college graduates from all over the world to come and work in Japan as English teachers.


We’ll cover how to get into the program, what the salary is like, and what your contract will be like. Keep reading for more information! 

What is the JET program?

In short, this is an opportunity to teach English in Japan. As a JET participant, you’ll serve as a language assistant to an English teacher in a Japanese school.


You will ensure that students have a positive experience learning English. You’ll also get to team-teach with experienced Japanese teachers and assist with the preparation of teaching materials. But best of all, you’ll get to participate in extracurricular activities with students.


Basically, it gives you a glimpse of what it is like to work in Japan.


Take note this is an exchange program as it aims to provide an immersive experience that allows you to learn about Japanese culture and language while also gaining valuable work experience.

What are the positions available in the JET program?

Participants in the JET program are employed in one of three roles:


  • Assistant Language Teacher (ALT)

Help students practice their English and learn about Western culture. You’ll usually work with a Japanese teacher in a classroom setting, but you may also be asked to give individual lessons or lead extracurricular activities.


  • Coordinator for International Relations (CIR)

Assist local governments with international exchange activities, and duties often include translation/interpretation, teaching English classes, and event planning. Just under 10% of JET participants are CIRs.


  • Sports Exchange Advisor (SEA)

Assist with sports training and the planning of sports-related projects.

How long is the JET program?

People who are in the JET Program are there for one year.


But if both the organization and the participant agree, they can stay for up to three more years. If you have done a good job, you might be able to stay for five years in total.

How much does the JET program pay?

So you’re thinking about applying for the JET Program, but you’re not sure if it’s worth it.


Sure, you get to live in Japan and experience a new culture, but what about the money?


Well, this program is certainly not a get-rich-quick scheme. Depending on your qualifications and where you are placed, your salary will be between ¥280,000 and ¥330,000 per month.


Here’s a breakdown based on which year your contract is in:


¥3.36 million (USD 23,451) in their first year, ¥3.6 million in their second year, and ¥3.9 million in their third year. For those appointed for a fourth and fifth year, the salary is ¥3.96 million per year.


This may not sound like a lot, but it is enough to cover your basic living expenses in Japan.


Now, you must pay Japanese income and resident taxes from this remuneration, so it’s not all gravy.


But if you’re looking for a way to earn a decent living while experiencing all that Japan has to offer, this exchange program is worth looking into.

How to get into JET program?

Here’s how it works: The recruitment, application, and selection process for new JET participants is conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs via its embassies and consulates in participating countries.


That means that if you want to be a JET participant, you need to go through your country’s embassy or consulate.


The application process generally opens in the fall and closes in the winter. Once applications are closed, they are reviewed by a committee of experts who make the final selection.


Here’s the timeline:

  • October to Early December: Applications received
  • January: Review of applications
  • February: Interview of applicants
  • March to April: Results of the interview sent to applicants
  • May to July: Confirmation of placements, health check and placement details
  • Jun to July: Predeparture orientation
  • July to August: Departure and arrival orientation

What are the criteria for JET Program?

The JET program is looking for dynamic and outgoing individuals to fill the roles of Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) and Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs). While the specific criteria for each role may vary slightly, there are some general qualities that the program is looking for in all candidates.


  • Be interested in Japan and willing to learn the language.
  • You must be a citizen of a JET Programme participating country.
  • You also need to be physically and mentally healthy and be able to adapt to living in Japan.
  • You have not participated in the JET Program before or declined a position after being notified of your assignment.
  • Obey Japanese law.
  • Complete your probation if you have a suspended jail term.

Before you get too excited, don’t forget about these things…

When deciding whether to participate in the JET Program, there are several important factors to consider.


One of the most important is housing. The JET Program does not provide housing, which means that you will be responsible for finding and paying for your accommodation. This can be a challenge, particularly in larger cities where rents are high.


Another important cost to consider is pension and health insurance. It’s about 14% of your salary so it is important to budget for them carefully.


Finally, you should also be aware that you will need to put away an extra ¥5000-¥10,000 per month to pay for residence tax the following year.

Is JET program worth it?

That depends on who you ask.


For those considering the JET program, it’s worth taking a quick look at the Jet Program on reddit.


The program’s Reddit community is a veritable hotbed of debate on the topic, with many users offering detailed accounts of their own experiences – both positive and negative.


But there seems to be a common theme in the group: culture shock.


Dealing with a different culture can be tough, even if you’re just visiting as a tourist. When you live in a place, you must get used to the little things that make it unique. This can be anything from the food to the way people interact with each other. It can be tough to adjust, but it’s doable.


Another common issue among JET participants is the lack of autonomy in lesson planning. The curriculum is set by the Japanese government, and it’s not always easy to deviate from it. This can be frustrating for those who prefer to have more control over their teaching methods.


However, it’s important to remember that this is a cultural exchange program first and foremost.


So, is the JET program worth it? That’s for you to decide. But if you’re looking for an immersive experience in Japan, then it might just be perfect for you. Just remember to brace yourself for culture shock and be prepared to go with the flow. Oh, and learn as much Japanese as possible. Trust us, it’ll make everything better.

Making the big move to Japan?

Before you get too comfortable in your new home, there’s one important thing you need to take care of: arranging your finances.


After all, you will be receiving and sending money to your home country. The good news is that there are several ways to send money to Japan, including online money transfer services like Instarem.


To avoid losing out on overseas money transfers, it is always a wise move to select a money transfer service provider that allows you to send money at a reasonable cost and with no hidden charges.


Plus, you can sign up for Instarem’s rate watch and send money when the tide is in your favour.



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*Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned.  

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