Thoughts on teaching in Japan?

Edit: I should've put it in the thread title.....thoughts on teaching ENGLISH in Japan.

Has anyone on here done it?  Care to offer any insights?

I've started to look into it, but, obviously, there is so much information that it's hard to know where to even start. 

As a quick background of myself, I'm 26, and have a bachelor's degree in Business Management.  I do not speak Japanese, but would be willing to pursue the appropriate steps in order to become minimally proficient at it.  I don't have a house, kids, wife, car payment, etc.  My overall debt, credit card and student loans included, is probably just a shade over $3,000, so most money I make can remain with me and not go to bill collectors.

I've been reading this website:

I just wanted to get some peoples' impressions on what the experience is like.  How difficult the application processes are, and what some of the things to expect are.

Thank you all very much in advance. 

Whoops....just saw a 100+ post thread 1/2 way down this page.  I'm gonna check it out and see if I can get some of my questions answered from that.

I do, however, still encourage anyone to post to this thread :)

more and more competitive.

Keep checking it out and my suggestion would be to not come until you have something lined up.

Do you think any additional teaching education like "certifications" (not degrees) from community colleges would be exceptionally helpful, or would my energies best be spent elsewhere in preparation? 

I wish I could help you out more, I really don't know what they are looking for these days as far as certifications etc.

Many companies will hire directly as you get off the plane.There's very little seniority in these schools, and a newbie will more or less get paid the same as a guy who's been there for 2 years.Certificates aren't the required norm.
A minimum of a BA is(for sponsorship purposes).Get certified in TOEFL or an equivalent if you plan to make it a career choice.Personally, you'd be better off getting an MA and taking it from there.
At some Universities, you can teach with an MA.

IMO, teaching is quite exploitive at times for both students and teachers. It will depend on who you work for.

Avoid GABA like the plague. It prides itself on a relaxing working enviroment and you're able to choose your own schedule, however, clients book your lessons, and you're not always going to be busy. There are times when you can have lot of free slots. It's a popularity contest with a lot of arse-kissing to be done.Many people use it as a go-between or for holidays if they're an ALT(see below).

Berlitz seems to be a decent choice.

Kindergartens have good hours, usually around 8:30am - 3pm Mon-Fri. Pay isn't bad. Noisy though.Working as an

ALT has mixed reviews. Sometimes you may have 3 different schools to work at a week. They may not always be conveniently located to the station. Hours are good. You either don't get paid during holidays or have a reduced salary at these times.Good experience into Japanese culture and your Japanese should improve quicker.

If by ALT you mean the JET program (just making sure) then you always get paid the same. This is a great program to be on. Of course depending on your bosses (having had both good and bad ones I know the difference it can make)

Another good thing with being an ALT hour wise is that the schedule is fixed and you know in advance what is happening. Working for a Board of Education also has advantages in that you are technically a public servant, i.e. if you are in with your supervisor at the BOE then life becomes a little easier when dealing with the town hall. At least it did for my friends and I.

Whatever you do go with good luck. It is a great way to see Japan

I would go about teaching English in Japan in this order:

Assuming you have a college degree...

1. Apply for several jobs before coming via

2. Set up interviews starting the day after you arrive, in the city of your choice.

3. Get a job that is willing to sponsor your visa. (1st visa)

4. Start teaching English part time as well on the side.(better pay per hour)

4. Quit right after renewing your visa after working for 1 year.  (2nd visa)

Note: The 2nd time, you are elgible for  a 1 or 3 year visa.

5. Find a few extra ESL part time jobs.

6.  Make sure you are making at least 200,000 yen from your part time esl work.

7. Sponsor yourself when you renew your visa next time (3rd time).

This is usually the best way to go about it in the long run. You can make more money for working less hours and still have time to train.

As a rule of thumb, stay away from companies that will hire you from abroad(outside of Japan.)

Hope this helps. 

Thanks for the information.

I'm looking seriously into this too.