Q: For Teaching English in Japan, do I need any qualifications beyond my
12 years of schooling? I’ve checked the sites of the English schools like Nova, Aeon etc and they talk about a bachelors degree being necessary but is it really? Letsjapan.com SAYS it isn’t but when the major sites say it is I wonder who’s telling me the truth. If it is, are there any other gaijin friendly jobs in Japan you’d recommend?
A: In your case, other good Japanese jobs for a gaijin would be IT and graphic design. That said, here’s hard way and the harder way to work in Japan.
Basically, the Japanese immigration rule is that to teach engrish, you need a 4-year college degree to get a “work visa” for teacher. There are ways around that: “spouse visa”, “studying in Japanese school” visa, “staying-with-my-Japanese-grandma” visa, “Working Holiday” visa (for EU people mostly not Americans), “self-sponsor” a visa by opening a $100,000+ company in Japan, etc., etc., etc.
For example, if you catch a Japanese wife, you can get you a “Pet License” aka a spouse visa that allows you to work here—-no degree is required. Likewise, if you 5-7 years provable experience at a valuable trade like a chef or real-world-salaried graphic designer you can get a “special skills visa”. Please don’t ask me ALL of the loopholes because nobody can know them all. HOWEVER. without a college degree or special skills life is gonna be a bitch. Even the engrish schools will be harder on anybody without a degree (that is, the better paying schools will ignore you or start you at a lower pay-scale). Larger Japanese companies, prefer degrees for white-collar workers—smaller Japanese companies who may ignore your lack of a degree can be hell holes. The good thing about Japan is it can be a great place for a talented but young gaijin trying to break into a crowded field like design or graphics. Just being a Japanese-speaking gaijin can open a lot doors normally closed to a smart younger gaijin in the West.
It boils down to what are your skills and what does your professional resume look like? Without a 4-year college degree, life can be hell if you cannot prove your skills with a resume of real work in a skill field for 5 to 7 years. That means you better have a great portfolio preferably with big-name, mega-corporation clients and proof you worked in a real business with your skills which in your case is graphics/design.
Bottom Line: Unless you want to suffer, be paid crap, and be discrimated against, you need a 4-year college degree.