Transitioning from English teaching to programming

I have been thinking of trying to come over as an English teacher and then trying to transition to a job as a developer. Has anyone here tried that before? If so, what company did you go over with, how long were you teaching before transitioning to programming? I would love to hear people’s thoughts and or experiences doing this.


It certainly is possible to transition. I know several developers who started off as English teachers, and then got jobs as developers. They had already studied computer science (or something similar) in university, or had previous professional experience as a developer.

Generally, I don’t think their goal was to work as a developer in Japan, but primarily to try living in Japan. After spending some time here, they decided they wanted to stay here longer, but not as an English teacher, and so found a developer position.

The JET programme is most common among the people I know, but there’s others who have done chain eikaiwa.

It sounds like you’re looking to come here as an English teacher, and use that as a stepping stone to find a job as a developer here. I can’t think of anyone I know who has gone down that route off the top of my head, but it might be a possible way as well.

Thanks for the response! I have been looking at developer positions too but have not had much luck so far. Companies have mostly wanted someone who can either speak Japanese or live in Japan already. I figured coming over as an English teacher, would give me some time to acclimate to Japan and at least get me somewhat conversational before looking for a developer position.

It’s a solid plan as long as you have a degree (in anything is OK I think?).

It’s similar to what I did, and I think you’ll have much more chance than applying from overseas alone.

The important thing is to not get stuck in the teaching thing, which happens to a lot of people. Keep hustling and looking for new opportunities, along with ensuring you have a solid portfolio (which if you’re passionate about dev you’d be doing naturally anyway).

You didn’t say anything about your existing experience with development though. Perhaps would be a good idea to share that?

Also, depending on the kind of work you want to get into, you may be interested in what my team is doing on to make connections when you’re here.

I have a degree in computer science and am working as a Ruby on Rails developer at a company called Mobile Defense. I don’t have a ton of recent open source work but you can check out my github profile here.