I'm still contemplating the pros and cons of the JET program. The biggest pro is getting to live in Japan for a year. The biggest con is waiting an extra year, or more, to finally be in a position to get a house of my own. I have to keep in mind, though, that I won't have this opportunity much longer. I've started learning Japanese (I've covered the basic hiragana so far), but would really have to push.
The JET program offers me two possibilities: as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) or as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR). ALT's account for about 90% of JET program participants and CIR's about 10%. These is a third position, but it's sports related and I would have to be recommended by the same people who select athletes to go to the Olympics. I don't like my changes for that third group.
An ALT works in a few different schools and is the primary English speaker in the classroom. Knowledge of Japanese is not required, but useful for outside of work. I could work from kindergarten to adult ed, and even special ed. They test your English grammar skills when you apply.
A CIR has a wider range or responsibilities, but typically works in a government office. I could assist foreign residents, translate text, act as an interpreter, or create and run my own programs. Some CIR's were interpreters at a G8 conference held in the country. A conversational level, probably able to pass the JLPT N4 exam, is required.
The CIR position would be more difficult to get into, unless my Japanese was good enough. I would continue to work at it, of course. My overall background would help me get accepted, and my age wouldn't hurt. Since I have some teaching experience, I could probably get into the ALT position.
At this time, my plan is to work very hard on my Japanese until it's time to apply (September). If I think I'm proficient enough, I'll apply for the CIR position. If not, I'll apply for the ALT position.
I still wonder if I should, though. I could learn Japanese at a slower pace and look into other things as well. For instance, I have my current piano lessons. I'm also looking to become a Certified First Responder this summer, and take a preparatory CERT class. Then there's drawing in the fall, which might expand into winter... You get the idea. I'm still moving forward with those. Maybe they would even help me get into JET.
I'll keep thinking about it and keep you up to date.