Japan has become increasingly popular as a tourist destination. It boasts a vibrant economy and a culture like no other. One of the major reasons why people travel to Japan is to experience the country’s food culture. Whether you want to spend a day exploring the temples, shopping in the markets, or dining Japanese cuisine at one of the countless restaurants, you’ll find something for everyone.
But what jobs do foreigners do in Japan? While many foreigners work in service industries, there are plenty of opportunities for those with the right skills.
Here are 8 of the most popular jobs for foreigners in Japan
With an aging population, a low unemployment rate, and a booming startup ecosystem, Japan has a shortage of information technology talent. Unlike in the past, many progressive Japanese companies, big and small alike, are opening their doors for talent from abroad, with or without Japanese language skills. The salaries of IT professionals in Japan are less than those in the USA and some European countries. However, working experience in Japan can be very rewarding with the exposure to high-quality delivery of projects (in fact, zero-bug delivery is not common in most other countries) and the unique culture. It can add another dimension to the profile.
Some of the areas where it’s easier to find a job even without Japanese skills are data engineering, data science, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. However, as many Japanese companies are going for more diversity to be competitive in the international market, together with the shortage of the talent pool, they regularly fire talent from abroad.
Employment Japan’s website is a one-stop resource for employers and job seekers looking to connect with potential opportunities in the country. It provides services that range from entry-level positions up through mid-seniority levels catering specifically to your needs as they come across them during searches based on domain (ie, IT & service industries). They even connect Japanese-speaking bilinguals in other countries for jobs in their home countries.
There are always several opportunities for foreigners to work as recruiters. Of course, Japanese language skills always help, but even without Japanese language skills, it’s not very difficult to find a job and make a career as a recruitment consultant. These opportunities are mainly for recruiting bilingual candidates who know Japanese and English, especially in the information technology space. There are two options for such jobs:
- Working with recruitment agencies specializing in bilingual recruitment
- Working as an insider recruiter for multinational companies that hire bilingual engineers
As most such jobs do not have visa sponsorship, many foreigners move to Japan as English teachers and then switch to a recruitment career after some time.
There are a plethora of chances to teach English in Japan. These English teaching jobs can be with big companies such as Coca-Cola or McDonald’s to working as ALT or Assistant Language Teacher, a title coined by the MEXT (Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology). There are also Eikaiwa or Japanese conversation jobs at private English schools.
Most of the time, you must already have working experience as a translator or interpreter to earn full credit for your bachelor’s degree.
Furthermore, technical language skills are not required, so if you do not speak Japanese, you still have options available to you. With income averaging from 200,000 to 250,000 Japanese Yen per month.
Nursery and elementary school teacher
In most countries, children start going to school at a very young age. Here in Japan, children begin elementary school at six years old and go up through secondary school (high school) until they are 18. Elementary schools typically have about 20 students per class who learn the Latin alphabet.
The two-year nursery school program is meant for children between ages three and four. It’s not mandatory, but many parents prefer their children to attend this program instead of kindergarten.
Foreigners can find jobs in such Japanese schools without knowing Japanese as they teach by pairing with a native Japanese teacher.
Teaching in International Schools
The number of international schools has been continuously growing in Japan with the growing ex-pat population and also because many Japanese also wish the kids to study in English medium. According to the education ministry, there were 36 international schools in Japan in 2018, up about 30% from 2014. As per the Wikipedia page about the international schools in Japan, there are 44 international schools in Japan. With the English medium of study, these schools need teachers with native-level English.
Investment banking can be a very lucrative career option for foreigners in Japan. Tokyo is one of the leading global financial hubs with a rating of 9 with 708 points, according to statista.com, while New York maintains first place with 759 points. There are always career opportunities in various areas like Operations, Corporate Finance, and Asset Management. While most of the jobs in investment banking need bilingual skills with business or native level Japanese and English, there are always some opportunities without Japanese language skills.
Become a Japanese translator
You’ll probably spend half your life translating articles, speeches, and other written material if you can translate to and from Japanese and your native language.
You will need a degree in translation studies or linguistics to become a licensed translator. However, those without formal education in translation techniques may start as assistants and train under a good translator.
To apply for this job, search online for jobs related to translation and send in your resume and a cover letter.
Employers often don’t read much beyond resumes, so making sure yours is short and understandable is essential. Additionally, many companies reach out to potential employees directly because of the high demand for translators.
There are quite a few marketing agents who work in Japan. They’re often considered an easier job for foreigners, especially if you speak Japanese and know how the research works! This is especially true if the need is for marketing outside Japan. The hours can be long, but they also offer some freedom (you’ll still report back directly to your manager).
Hard work and honesty open the door to many opportunities for advancement. Also, salaries only depend on how much money you make, not what position you hold.
There are smaller cities with few foreign professionals, so if you live in a large city, visit another town or village that has an office for your preferred language.
Though international students can work as shop assistants, this job is usually reserved for Japanese nationals.
However, there are many opportunities to learn about the retail industry through general training programs, such as apprenticeships or volunteer positions. These jobs aren’t necessarily front-line work, but they offer a user experience that can help you land future employment.
If you want to work behind the counter at a store, this training will make it easier for you to handle taking orders and paying people their money.
These jobs may not have many opportunities for advancement, but they can be important experiences for you to add to your resume.