Frequently Asked Questions
Here you can find answers to the questions we are most often asked. You can scroll down to see the questions and click on them to read the answers, Relating to COVID-19, Before Applying, Interview, Orientation/Training and Beyond, Company/Employee
Relating to COVID-19
The coronavirus has left an impact on a global scale and continues to affect us. In order to assure your safety and the safety of all our applicants and interviewers, ALTIA CENTRAL has adopted a Skype-only interview system for both in-country and overseas applicants until further notice.
As of this update in May 2021, we are still accepting applications, setting up interviews, and approving applicants both in Japan and abroad. But unless you are currently in Japan and available to work, actually offering you a specific position and getting you into Japan remains extremely difficult. We can apply for COEs and visas for new overseas recruits, but the processing and issuing of these visas will likely take a lot longer than normal, and even with a valid visa in hand, current travel restrictions may still affect actually traveling to and entering Japan. We will be hiring a few recruits each month and a number in September and January as per usual, but our next major intake of overseas recruits is likely to be in March 2022.
We do prefer applicants with teaching experience, preferably ALT work or other teaching experience here in Japan if possible. Other teaching background such as ESL teaching, language tutoring, or volunteer work and language exchanges is also acceptable. We do often employ people with the right skill set and disposition that we believe will allow them to become great ALTs, even without the relevant previous experience, but in this case other factors such as Japanese language skills and relevant studies become even more important.
We do not typically focus on English or Education degrees per se, though we certainly do hire a number of new ALTs from these fields. For overseas applicants who are fresh out of university with little or no teaching background, we would generally look for relevant degrees or minors. This includes fields such as Japanese, Asian Studies, Teaching English as a Secondary Language (TESL) etc., though combinations such as BA in English, with a minor in Asian Studies are very attractive as well. We also consider applicants with TESL certification, conversational Japanese language ability and having some experience of living in Japan, such as on a study abroad program, student exchange or something similar.
Absolutely. While we traditionally hire the majority of our ALTs from within Japan, we also hire more and more overseas applicants each year, so overseas applications are always very welcome. People who have worked for another ALT company or Eikaiwa school, as well as those finishing the JET Programme, make up most of our new ALTs each year. Successful overseas applicants will have a lengthy process to obtain their working visa before they can come to Japan, so it is advised to check our website for the best times to apply. For overseas applicants especially, we do place a lot of emphasis on previous work with young children, degrees in Japanese or East Asian studies, participation in an exchange program or previous ESL work experience here in Japan etc., and we rarely bring over those applicants with little relevant background, experience or basic Japanese language skills.
For overseas recruits, finances are often a big concern. Typically, we would recommend you prepare about 2,000 to 2,500 US dollars before you come, and that should be more than enough until your first salary on the 20th of the month following your start in school. You need to cover your own airfare to Japan as well as transportation to your training venue, which is most likely near our head office in Nagoya City, so that money would be on top of these costs. From there, we pay for your hotel during Orientation/Training, we pay for the apartment key money, and we supply a company car for drivers, so there are not many large payments you have to make. You will be asked to cover your first month's rent up front, or you can opt to have this withheld from your first paycheck, but then your first check will be very small if you do. The first 2 months of health care/pension payments also come out at the same time from your first salary, but other than that it's just normal daily and food expenses that you need to cover.
If you have your own apartment or are finding your own place to live, that's perfectly fine, but it does affect the positions we can consider you for. Furthermore, school groupings are often changed very late by the BOEs, so having your own apartment arranged on one end of the city, and then a school group change which includes schools on the other end of the city, would drastically affect your commuting time. We would prefer no one to have a daily commute more than 1 hour each way. Anything more than that wouldn't be fair to you as long commutes can cause a lot more stress, and wouldn't be fair to the students if something came up that caused you to be late or prevented you from making it to school altogether. It is absolutely fine to have your own place, many of our ALTs do, but it may limit the number and variety of positions that we can place you in. For overseas recruits especially, it's just much, much easier to let us arrange an apartment in a suitable location for you.
For documents the simplest way would be to send them in PDF format. As for photographs and the like, JPG or .PNG files are the easiest for us to open and use, while other formats such as .pages or .odt are more troublesome. Compressing your PDF files into a .zip file is also perfectly fine.
If you have a letter of recommendation in Japanese, we can certainly accept that. You may have experience teaching with Japanese public-school teachers or had Japanese managers at your English conversation school, or perhaps a Japanese language professor from University, and if they prefer to write a letter in Japanese that is perfectly fine. We also would like to have our Japanese staff contact your referees by phone after a successful interview, so contact information is also necessary. At the interview, we will ask for contact information, so extra letters would not be required again at that point, just the contact numbers alone would be acceptable.
It is easiest to send in your Letter(s) of Recommendation with your initial application as PDF attachments. You can also have your referee(s) email them directly themselves. Just be sure to have him/her include your name in the subject of the email so we know who the letter is for. If your referee(s) prefer to send them "sealed", in an envelope via post, that is fine with us as well but sending them digitally is generally best.
The contracts themselves are typically 1 year, starting from April 1st and each officially ending with the school year at the end of March. That is, as school starts from the beginning of April and finishes at the end of March, we expect every ALT to work through until the end of March regardless of when the ALT started with ALTIA CENTRAL. So, a contract might end up being a bit less than a full year, depending on when you start, or perhaps even longer than a year if say you start in December and we agree that offering you a 15-month contract through to the following March might be best. When we bring in a new ALT for a new school year, the students deserve to have that ALT continue for the entire duration of the school year, so perhaps even more important than the contract, we feel the commitment to the students for the whole school year is really what we are looking for.
Generally, no. We do not have, nor do we offer part time or shortened contracts like this. Although if you are filling in mid-year for an ALT who had to leave for a family or health emergency, it might be possible to work just for a shortened term through to the end of the school year. We feel a full school year commitment goes without saying in this kind of position so the commitment to the BOEs, the schools, the teachers, and ultimately the students outweighs anything else and this is very important to us at ALTIA CENTRAL. If you are looking to work only a short period it's not likely that we can help you out in the end.
We have no set limits on how long you can work as an ALT with us. Each winter, we ask our ALTs about their intentions for the following school year and ask you to "apply" for a new 1-year contract. The vast majority of our ALTs are good ALTs of course, so it's an easy decision to "offer" them a new contract and keep them working with us. We have many ALTs who have been with us for 4, 5, 6 or more contracts and are still doing amazing work in their schools. So as long as you are doing well and making positive contributions, we are generally happy to keep you employed with us for as long as possible.
That is the million-dollar question! The general process begins in the fall and continues throughout the winter for April-starting contracts, which is probably more than 95% of all contracts. Generally, by the end of January we can get a good idea of which of our expiring BOE contracts will be re-earned for another year, and which areas we will have to make a new proposal or presentation for. By the beginning of March, we should know about the bulk of our contracts, and together with the plans from our current ALTs and whether they are moving on or not, we are making hiring decisions and filling open positions. By about mid-March most all of our BOE contracts are decided and the vast majority of our positions are filled except for a few special cases. Though we do continue to hire a few final people for remaining openings, sudden changes, and those contracts which were decided very late by the BOE through to the end of March where needs be.
You can apply to ALTIA CENTRAL at most any time during the year. However, our busiest placement periods are April and September so the months leading up to those periods are the main recruiting seasons. For April start positions, our biggest hiring season, we start accepting overseas applications in September and doing interviews throughout October and November. For in-country applicants for April positions, December onward is about the best time to get in touch with us to apply, and most interviews are in the January to March period. We do also occasionally have 1 or 2 random positions to fill in any given month so check our Available Positions or look for our ads on gaijinpot.com throughout the year.
Well, as you can see here in our Available Positions page, we are concentrated around the Chubu area of Japan. Our head office is in Nagoya city, Aichi prefecture, meaning our contracts are largely based in central Japan, mostly in Aichi, Gifu, and Shizuoka prefectures; with a strong presence in Okayama and Hiroshima; a number of contracts in Shiga, Mie, Nagano, and Fukui; as well as a limited number of positions in Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and the greater Kansai area. If you are focused on going to Osaka and Osaka only, we will most likely not be able to help you out. Please note that we DO NOT have anything in the greater Tokyo Area.
Our clients are the local town and city Boards of Education (BOEs), who usually only manage junior high and elementary schools in their respective areas. Public senior high schools are typically run at the prefecture level and we don't currently operate in this area. A growing number of our ALTs do sometimes go to local kindergartens, and we might have just 1 or 2 senior high school positions each year only in those rare city-operated high schools. An ALTIA CENTRAL ALT is most likely teaching at junior high school only, at elementary school only, or teaching a mix of both junior high and elementary school, with maybe a few days per month visiting kindergartens.
We strongly prefer that our ALTs have some conversational ability in Japanese, and generally look for people who have studied the language for several years or have perhaps lived and/or worked in Japan previously or currently. Being immersed in an all-Japanese environment means having a general understanding of what is going on around you as well as using basic communication skills to greatly enhance your presence and effectiveness. More interaction helps build rapport and understanding between you and the school, especially outside of the classroom, but we certainly don't feel you should be using Japanese in the classroom itself. Not all our ALTs are strong at Japanese, especially those who are working in junior high school or are new to Japan, but when comparing applicants, we certainly do consider language ability when making hiring decisions.
While we do strongly prefer in-person interviews, we do also occasionally offer Skype interviews when necessary. And during the pandemic, we have resorted temporarily to doing all of our interviews by Skype for the safety of all concerned. However, we do not offer interviews via phone call. We feel that our best chance to find the most suitable applicants is a lengthy, professional, face-to-face interview. The positions we offer, representing foreign cultures and working with young children in public schools, are just too important to trust a phone call. Sorry if that disappoints, but we take our interviewing process very seriously and face-to-face interviews are important to us.
When we can confirm a date and time for the interview, our recruiting department will let you know exactly what to provide before the interview, and what to bring for the interview itself. This will include some documents such as your passport and visa copies, a copy of your 4-year diploma/degree, 2 recent passport-style photos, and contact information for references, which we will tell you more about in the confirmation email. Some of these documents can be scanned and emailed beforehand (or afterwards if otherwise impossible), especially for overseas interviews, but we do prefer that in-country applicants bring as much as possible in person to the interview, so we can quickly go over them together. There are many things to discuss and talk about at the interview and not a lot of time to go over documentation, so having all the requested materials prepared and ready to go is much appreciated.
Well, if you "passed" the interview, we will be in touch with very soon to begin discussing how to move forward from there and any possible placements for you. We may need to collect more documentation from you, apply for a Certificate of Eligibility or Change of Visa Status, confirm preferences and timetables, and keep you up to date on position availability etc. On the other hand, please understand that due to time constraints, we may not have time to contact every person whom we are not able to consider further following the interview.
Orientation/Training and Beyond
Orientation Training at ALTIA CENTRAL is a very comprehensive 4-day (or 5-day for overseas recruits) training seminar which will familiarize you with and prepare you for all levels of the Japanese public school system, teach you a multitude of basic skills and techniques, and get you acquainted with our resources and materials, which will in turn, fully prepare you for your first day and first month at school. We have a wonderful group of dedicated, native English-speaking supervisors and trainers, most of whom have been working and teaching in Japan for 10 years or more, as well as other head-office staff available to assist you and answer your questions. You will also have a chance to meet many great people, have a lot of fun, and really receive full and complete training to be successful in your new position. We are confident that our training is among the best around, and we often hear many positive and great things about the quality of our Orientation Training from new employees who have previously worked with other ALT companies and from former JET Programme participants.
ALTIA CENTRAL will reserve a local hotel in the area and cover the cost of the hotel for all new ALTs. We will also subsidize your lunch each day throughout the event. We are not able to cover your travel costs to get to Orientation Training, but we will reimburse you for traveling from Orientation Training to your placement location, be it by highway, train or even the shinkansen.
Working as a teacher in a school environment, we feel that dressing smart is a requirement to make a positive and professional impression. This does not require you to dress in a suit and tie every day. Formal and professional attire is required for when you are meeting the school and the Principal for the first time or attending a formal school event such as graduation ceremony or parent observation day. A general rule of thumb is to dress one level above the teachers at the school you are attending. Generally, for men, a collared shirt with long trousers or khakis, no jeans or denim, and for women, a blouse or nice shirt/sweater with a pair of slacks or a conservative skirt and tights/stockings are common. Often a change of clothes for more casual or outdoor activities such as recess or after school sport clubs are also encouraged, especially in the hot months of the year.
Yes, every year all ALTs must take a health check before starting their contracts with ALTIA CENTRAL. 健康診断 (けんこうしんだん) as it is called in Japanese is a requirement by law for people working in the public school environment. A form with all the basic medical checks needed, including a chest x-ray, is provided by ALTIA CENTRAL. For new recruits, the cost is covered by yourself before you join the company, but we will reimburse up to a set amount for any subsequent health checks in new contracts you are offered by ALTIA CENTRAL after that.
ALTIA CENTRAL typically places new recruits into LeoPalace apartments, which are already furnished with a table and chairs, fridge, microwave, air conditioner, washing machine, and TV with instantly accessible internet included. They may be small and compact, but are clean, convenient, and very easy to move into and live in.
Moving costs and utilities are the responsibility of the ALT, and after receiving the first month's rent up front from a new recruit, subsequent months' rent will be deducted directly from the monthly salary and paid to the real estate agent by ALTIA CENTRAL. Though we do pay the key money and other deposits up front, there is a small management fee of 3,500 yen per month which helps us to cover some of the overheads of the apartments plus things like fire insurance, reform costs, cleaning fees, etc. Some ALTs either have their own apartments or choose to find them, but all upfront costs and paperwork will be up to you in this case.
Since most public schools are in residential areas and most ALTs teach in at least 2 or 3 schools, the majority of our positions do require driving. When you interview with us, we will of course ask your preferences and confirm whether you are legally able to drive in Japan. So yes, you can request a change or transfer in your 2nd contract if need be. Having a valid Japanese license (an International Driving Permit is only valid for the 1st year) is necessary and you would need to have this in hand before we could consider you, but it is possible.
For our most common, full-school year and full-benefit contracts we do NOT pro-rate an ALT's salary during the summer and winter breaks, as most companies do. We continue to pay full salary, including during months such as August, for example, where there are usually very few if any school obligations at all. In this ultra-competitive industry however, most other companies continue to lower prices to the BOEs, thus typically lowering ALT salaries in multiple months as a result. With some BOEs also reducing the number of working days throughout the year, we are under increasing pressure each year to find ways to balance things fairly and a small number of our contracts in select cities unfortunately do have fewer working days and thus less yearly income than usual.
We feel that supporting the ALT is one of the main strengths of our company. For most ALTs (excluding places like Osaka and Nagoya city) we arrange for you to live in a company-sponsored LeoPalace type semi-furnished apartment and pay the upfront costs. If your position requires a car, we can supply that as well, and no, you do not have to lease the car like some other employers have you do. We sponsor your visa, provide you high-quality training before you begin, and give you access to a plethora of valuable teaching resources. We communicate regularly with you, listen to you, answer your questions and visit you in school to offer ongoing, vital advice and classroom support. We take care of your taxes, arrange your schedules, and overall, we simply treat you professionally and respectfully.
ALTIA CENTRAL started over 20 years ago providing educational ALT services to the public school system in Japan. It originated as a division of another predecessor company providing educational services to private and public institutions, so the history of supplying ALTs to public schools actually goes back over 30 years. Over the course of a number of years, the ALT Division expanded and grew to a point where it was more feasible to run independently. It is co-managed by both Japanese and foreign management and board members, all of whom have many years of experience within this field and with ALTIA CENTRAL. In recent years, our company has grown quite steadily, and continues to grow, due to our expertise and commitment to the education of children, and in 2018 we were seamlessly integrated into the Z-Kai group of companies. Today we have over 350 ALTs teaching successfully in a dozen prefectures across Central and South-Central Japan who are actively taking part in the development of tens of thousands of children every day.
We offer a consistent monthly salary, in full and on time every month, and outstanding support for the ALT provided by ALTIA CENTRAL's friendly staff and supervisors. Our supervisors are very experienced, dedicated and spend most of their time communicating with their ALTs by visiting them in their schools to offer advice and support, as well as, being available to answer personal questions or other nonwork-related emergencies. We provide industry leading training to become a successful ALT, including top notch teaching resources that new employees are almost always impressed by the volume and high quality. We also supply company cars without making you lease them, and offer you a choice among flexible driving plans. Our ALTs enjoy working with us and appreciate the support and guidance that we give them, and a huge number of applicants each year are friends and former co-workers of our current ALTs who have been recommended to ALTIA CENTRAL. So, the benefit of working at our company is that rather than working "for" a company, you work "with" us here at ALTIA CENTRAL.
All of our recruiters, supervisors, trainers, and lead teachers working with ALTIA CENTRAL's head office were previously standout ALTs with us and have moved up from within the company. ALTIA CENTRAL always places great emphasis on training, support, and professional development of our ALTs because we would like to utilize the wide skill set of our great ALT base (e.g. for certain projects, talks, camps, professional events and teacher-trainings etc. as we have done in the past). That being said, openings for managerial positions within the office are too far and few to be used as direct encouragement when interviewing and hiring new ALTs. Once you are in the company, we encourage you to excel in your role and as you are noticed over time for your above-and-beyond abilities and talents, there will surely be head office openings in the future for you to consider. For starters though, we hire capable people to be ALTs and expect you to do a great job in your assigned schools.
Yes, we do! We currently use social media to highlight what our ALTs/supervisors are doing during the school year and what the company and the recruiting department is involved in.
You can explore our social media pages with the links provided below.
YouTube: ALTIA CENTRAL Youtube Channel