Teaching English: Dispatch or Direct Hire

April 13th, 2011By Category: Teaching in Japan

It is common wisdom in English teaching circles that direct hire positions are better than dispatch positions. This can be the case…or not. While direct hire positions can have great benefits, they also carry responsibilities many teachers don’t consider and aren’t always as well paid as people think.

Within Japanese schools there are different types of teacher; “Sennin,” “Jokin” and “Hijokin” which translate very roughly in order to “full time, full responsibility,” “full time but without the benefits or responsibility of the Sennin” and “part time” teachers. If you are offered a direct contract it is vital to check what kind of teacher you will be employed as. Some teachers find themselves shocked as they go from an out-the-door at 4pm ALT position to being expected to work overtime, work on weekends, and take on school responsibilities that have nothing to do with subject teaching like their Japanese counterparts (for example, one teacher was put on the groundskeeping committee and asked to spend hours of overtime analyzing how to have less dirt tracked into the school).

This is sometimes for less starting pay than a school would offer a dispatch teacher as direct hire teachers often come under the “salary in accordance to seniority” pay scale used by the Japanese staff. While not all dispatch companies are created equally, it is false to say that all direct hire contracts are better paid and better for the teacher than dispatch contracts.

The issue of responsibility is one of the reasons many schools don’t offer to hire directly, more than the issue of money. If a teacher is the employee of a company, it becomes the company’s responsibility to find a new teacher quickly if the current teacher decides to return to his or her own country, and it is also the responsibility of the company to speak to the teacher should things not be going well at school and to handle matters like visas and contract translations. Many schools aren’t willing to risk hiring a teacher directly and handling the extra paperwork with no guarantee the new teacher will put in the work and the years that the Japanese staff will.

When would direct hire be a good option for you? If you’re serious about staying in Japan for a long time, want to be a real teacher with real responsibilities, and have a lot of experience in the Japanese school system, you will find direct hire is a better career option than being dispatched. If you prefer flexibility, having someone to intervene when the school is demanding too much of you, and are not intending to make teaching in Japan a lifetime career, dispatch with a reputable company may actually be preferable for both you and the school you are working for.

Photo used under Creative Commons License.

 

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Author of this article

Kate Havas

Kate Havas is a coordinator for EduCareer, a new service from Global Partners offering both dispatch and direct hire positions. For more information on teaching English in Japan and openings for qualified teachers, check out their website and register. You can also like EduCareer on Facebook!

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  • Morrataxco

    A very well-written advertisement for a dispatch company!

    “While direct hire positions can have great benefits, they also carry responsibilities many teachers don’t consider …” Teachers pretty much know that there are plenty of other responsibilities outside of the classroom and separate from their area of expertise as would be the case in any school in any country. I don’t think someone who comes to Japan for travel, culture and sightseeing for a year actually considers themselves a teacher!

    “…aren’t always as well paid as people think.” What figure do people “think”? Most private schools pay 300,000 a month as a minimum for direct hire, most dispatch companies pay 200-250,000 and pocket the rest of the money that the school is paying for the privilege of being provided with an inexperienced young person. Lots of dispatch companies don’t pay their employees during school holiday periods meaning the employee has to make one salary stretch to two over the summer. I was hired directly as a part-timer, without pension or being enrolled in the health system, but on a 12 monthly salary of over 400,000 and about 15 weeks paid holiday. I don’t get a bonus being part-time, but it is not unusual to see starting salaries for full-timers of 350,000 plus two-three months bonus. Of course, holiday time is limited to about four weeks.

    “Some teachers find themselves shocked as they go from an out-the-door at 4pm ALT position…” Lots of ALTs work to 5:00 or 5:30 and have to stay even if they have nothing to do and have finished all that was required from them.

    “it becomes the company’s responsibility to find a new teacher quickly if the current teacher decides to return to his or her own country…”If an ALT quits it is often because the conditions are not what they were expecting and especially if they are treated a bit contemptuously by the Japanese staff. The swift turn-over increases the staff’s contempt and idea that ALL foreign ALTs are useless or that ALL quit soon so it is not worth getting to know this person as they will be gone in a few months thus perpetuating the cycle.

    .”..one teacher was put on the groundskeeping (sic) committee and asked to spend hours of overtime analyzing how to have less dirt tracked into the school…” How random and hardly representative of the average experience!

    “…are not intending to make teaching in Japan a lifetime career, dispatch with a reputable company may actually be preferable for both you and the school you are working for.” What a shame schools are prepared to hire people who “are not intending to make teaching…a career” Perhaps this is what leads “the company to speak to the teacher should things not be going well at school”

  • Mike

    Should keep the advertisers happy, fine job!

  • Mike

    Should keep the advertisers happy, fine job!

  • Indiehxcfosho

    Here is a simple comparison:

    Direct hire ≥ Dispatch

  • Dearcinds

    good info, as i intend teaching english, full time and as long as i can, perhaps permanently in japan, as i intend making japan my second home, rather permanently…

  • Jeffreytaos

    Hi Kate,

    I would like a position as ALT in Japan. I would prefer a public school or university. I will be continuing a Masters degree while teaching, and hope you have some openings that would suit me. I would like to teach in the affected earthquake areas, Fukishima prefecture, etc. I have the compassion and cultural sensitivity, but do not speak Japanese, however, I have learned to become familiar with language sounds, phonetics, and pronunciation and am more than willing to participate in learning Japanese with other teachers while there.

    jeffrey

  • Jeffreytaos

    The 350 is too good to be true.

  • nenita t. tan

    If i will stay in japan, i would like to teach English from elementary to high school.  I’m very eager to go teach there but i keep on logging and i can not get through…. How will i apply… I know how to speak nihonggo….i have my masters already… finishing my thesis.

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