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How To Get A Job In Japan? – A Comprehensive Guide

It can’t be denied that with a dynamic economy and blooming culture, Japan is a wonderful place to live and start working. Though job searching in Japan is extra tough, you can still look for ways to work there and gain rewarding international job experience with some dedication and hard work. As you plan your adventure working abroad in Japan, this step-by-step guide will lay out everything you need to know about How to get a job in Japan!

Details About How To Get A Job In Japan

How to be eligible to work in Japan?

How to work in Japan?”, “Can an American get a job in Japan?”. We’ve got so many questions like this. The answer is “Yes, of course”, if you get a job offer and tick all the eligible conditions.

1. Obtain an appropriate visa

Before April 2019, visas limited and the national sense to prioritize local workers over foreign ones have prevented foreign workers from applying for a job or obtaining documents to stay in the country long term. However, the challenges of an aging population and shrinking domestic workforce impose great burden on Japanese companies. As a result, the government has recently come to adjust considerable changes regarding immigration policies and foreign labor controls that makes it easier than ever to work in Japan.

The Japanese government issues several types of visas for foreigners who are in pursuit of staying in Japan for a long term. As mentioned on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website, to be eligible to live in Japan, you must fall into one of the following categories:

Long term resident: Have a job lined up/ Are a highly-skilled professional

Permanent resident: Have family living in Japan

Please keep in mind that foreign nationals with “College Student”, “Pre-college Student” and “Dependent” residential status can not work in Japan unless they obtain a permit for extra-status activities.

2. Meet the working conditions

Countries like America may accept immigrants, however, that is impossible in Japan. You can’t just jump into this country without meeting strict regulations. Besides, the process might be stressful and time-consuming sometimes. Specifically, in order to qualify for working in Japan, you need to meet all the given criteria:

  • Proof that you are in good health for working abroad. This can be done with a copy of your medical records issued within 3 months from the date of application by competent health authorities of your home country.
  • Enough funds to live in Japan. Printed bank statements from the past 3 months will suffice.
  • Not to be accompanied by dependents.
  • Have either a university degree or ten years’ experience in your career field.
  • The working visa also prohibits employment in bars, nightclubs, and gambling establishments.

Again, you can look for a full list of the working conditions and qualifications on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website.

How to apply?

  1. Get a job offer: Get a job before landing. Because if you don’t, there is no way you can obtain the Certificate of Eligibility and your visa will not be approved.
  2. Prepare required documents
  3. Apply at the Japanese Embassy: Once you’ve found your new shigoto (job) and your employer has finally sent you the Certificate of Eligibility, you’re ready to apply for your visa. Take all the required documents to your nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General and follow the instructor.
  4. The application is examined at the Embassy: Interview may be required if necessary
  5. Visa issued: Please note that when you receive your passport back, date of issue and the date of expiration which will only be 3 months apart. So you’ll have to prolong your visa after landing in Japan.
how to work in japan

After getting visa approved, you will be able to enter Japan within 3 months

What documents do you need?

To be simple, there are only 4 documents that you need to gather before proceeding the visa application:

  1. Valid passport: Your passport with a validity at least 6 months duration.
  2. Visa application form: The form is the same form no matter which visa you are applying for. It is pretty straightforward to fill out, but make sure you have the information of your employer or sponsor in hand to complete it. It must be printed, completed, and signed.

Note: In case you do have a criminal record, bring proof with you because the visa application form will ask if you have a criminal record and you have to show it to the Japanese Embassy.

  1. One photo (45mm x 45mm): It could be your ID or passport photo which is clear, with a white background. Attached it to your application form (there’s a designated spot on the form for this).
  2. Certificate of Eligibility: Both the original and a copy.

A COE is a document that proves to the Japanese government that the person landing in Japan meets all the requirements for the activities they will be engaging in during their stay, such as being a student or having the qualifications to work.

Generally, the COE will be sent to you by your Japanese company through email or mailing address. Additional documents may be requested depending on the employer, including photo of your passport, valid ID photo, signed work contract, address of your nearest Japanese Embassy, etc.

getting a job in japan

Please make sure that all submitted documents are complete and accurate

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What jobs can foreigners do in Japan?

1. Full-time job

While you can get a job in nearly every sector in Japan, some of the highest paying jobs with a great number of opportunities are: English teacher, IT, engineer, sales staff, service staff, banker and translator.

1.1. Teaching English

The most common and easiest way to get pay in Japan is to work as an English teacher. Japan has an exceptionally high demand for English learning as more than half of Japanese people find themselves struggling when communicating in English. English teachers are welcomed by programs and schools all over Japan.

how to get a job in japan

You can work for either public or private schools in Japan

The requirements to becoming an English teacher in Japan are:

  • Be fluent in English: At this point, you don’t need to be an English native speaker to get the job
  • Have a Bachelor degree: A four-year college degree is required by most schools and programs
  • Have a TEFL or TESOL certificate (optional): Some recruiters may also ask you to have a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification. Even if they don’t mention it while recruiting, keep in mind that a TEFL/ TESOL will increase the chance that you get the job.
1.2. Information Technology

Information technology is the second most common field for foreigners to consider while searching for a job in Japan. Web developers, programmers and IT professionals are all welcomed and highly paid. The best part is, most IT/ software development and other technology-related companies do not require business-level or fluent Japanese. Only working knowledge and experience for this field is prioritized.

1.3. Engineering

Expats with experience or an interest in robotics or offshore manufacturing can also find jobs more easily. As most companies in Japan are not willing to offshore, they hire engineers from abroad to work for their company in their land. From locomotives to electronics, there are many engineering jobs in Japan for foreigners.

1.4. Sales Staff

If you have a high level of Japanese, you can work as a full-time sales staff. This decade has witnessed an increase in the globalization of the Japanese economy. Many domestic companies are trying to access international markets and fill various positions in the sales department, such as international sales managers and sales representatives by foreign candidates.

1.5. Service Industry

The service industry in Japan is always looking for foreigners who can speak more than one language to accommodate their guests. As a result, sectors like tourism or hotel management offer foreign workers a great number of job vacancies.

1.6. Banking

Nowadays, there are more and more Japanese banks seeking for foreign employees in large numbers. Although the standards to get the job is pretty high, Japanese proficiency is not a priority and proper knowledge of the field, as well as a valid visa, are all you need.

how to get a job in japan

Government policies encourage immigrant workers as population declines

1.7. Translator

If you have good language skills and valid documentation, translating or interpreting from English to Japanese and vice versa is a good job opportunity, especially in the gaming industry.

Note:

  1. Schools or businesses will provide all the support you need to get there, including assistance with legal documents, accommodation, childcare, medical services, and even language study.
  2. The average salary in Japan is just over 4 million JPY (37,800 USD) per year. The minimum wage is 874 JPY (8 USD) per hour. Tokyo has the highest average annual salary in Japan: 325,000 JPY per month (3,000 USD), followed closely by Osaka and Okinawa.

2. Part-time job

You can easily find a place in Tokyo that recruits foreigners for a part-time job, especially in the tourism and service industries. Waitstaff, cook, hotel receptionist, cleaning staff, fast food delivery, convenience store, retail store and modeling are some jobs that do not require much academic knowledge. You just need to be able to speak Japanese at a basic level. For highly skilled professionals, more options would be given to you such as translation, freelance photography, design, programming, or marketing and travel guide.

In spite of its convenience and time flexibility, a part-time job does expose some limitations, depending on where you work and what type of visa you have. Specifically, you will be limited by the total number of hours and types of work you can do. For example, if you’re on a student or dependent visa, you can not work more than 28 hours per week, and you’ll need to get a work stamp from immigration. In case you have a work visa, you are normally limited to work only in the area your work visa designates you to. And if you have a permanent residence, you can work any number of hours you like, at any sector.

3. Internship

If you have a four-year degree, or your current university has connections with Japanese companies, you can think about internships. Actually, an internship in Japan is more like mentorship. You’re gonna get coaching as well as advice at every step of the way and also, twenty-four-hour support. The company will provide you with accommodation and monthly salary. You need to have a Japanese certificate already and commit to work in at least 8 weeks. Though it’s not for everybody, it’s still a great way to make money and at the same time, upgrade your CV.

how to work in japan

Internship in Japan can be tough but it is definitely a unique and fulfilling experience

4. Self-employed

There is a fact that Japanese business culture values people working with companies above those who run businesses by themselves. Self-employees are usually considered not being as serious or professional as workers in the traditional manner. However, due to Japan’s shifting societal expectations, this country has recently become more open to foreigners.

How to be Self-Employed in Japan

The biggest problem you have to deal with is that there is no self-employment visa in Japan. So your only possible choice is sponsoring yourself. You can look for more information on the official website of Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There are a few job sectors in which you can make good money even if you barely speak Japanese: photography, web design and copywriter.

As a self-employed person in Japan, you are supposed to pay into the National Pension system. Paying into this will provide you with old-age, sickness or injury benefits, should you choose to stay in Japan long-term.

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How to find jobs in Japan?

It’s common for job hunters to visit recommended websites to find out the most suitable job:

  • JET Program (Japan Exchange and Teaching) is one of the most popular recruiting agencies which has been developed by Japanese government. This highly competitive program seeks for college graduates who are willing to work as an English teacher or teaching assistant. Those positions are available at both private and public schools.
  • Gaijinpot.com: Gaijinpot is the best source for foreigners not only for finding a job but also getting to know about life, work, or study in Japan.
  • JobsinJapan.com: This search engine lets you upload your skills/resume and set alerts for jobs of interest which makes it easier for you while hunting for a job.
  • JapanEnglishTeacher.com: For those who attempt to work as an English teacher in Japan, this website provides you with various opportunities
  • Daijob.com: Another great search engine that has a lot of posts about IT and hospitality jobs.

Things to consider when finding a job in japan

Japanese proficiency

Unfortunately, a high proficiency of Japanese (at least JLPT N2) will be required for a full-time job in most cases as being able to understand and communicate is crucial. There are five levels of tests for the JLPT, N1 being the highest. So make sure you pass the exam before applying.

Work culture

This is an important aspect to consider because foreigners only account for less than 2% of the workforce, and Japanese business culture has long been considered to be very rigid. There are some unspoken rules that you really should keep in mind. Similar to most Japanese social norms, the work culture is very formal. It is customary to bow and wait for the other person to shake your hand when greeting. Try to keep your politeness and courtesy everywhere. Moreover, the Japanese people believe strongly in status and hierarchy. Old age is supposed to be treated with great respect. Besides, Japan is a group-oriented culture. Remember that teamwork and group mentality is attached much importance to individualism.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can foreigners get jobs in Japan?

Hundreds of jobs available for foreigners, even if you cannot speak Japanese. Just make sure that you get a job offered and are qualified to apply for a working visa.

2. What jobs are in demand in Japan?

IT is absolutely the job with the highest pay in Japan. A survey carried out from 2018 to 2019 shows that the top average earner is an IT consultant, who makes about 6 million JPY (55,000 USD) annually.

Other popular job and their average annual salaries:

Job USD JPY (million)
Product Manager 61,900 6.7
UX Designer 55,000 6
Marketing Manager 45,200 4.9
Accountant 41,500 4.5
Manufacturing 41,500 4.5
Software Engineer 37,800 4.1
Web Developer 37,800 4
Architect 33,200 3.6
Teacher 30–32,000 3-3.5
Nurse 31,400 3.4
Hospitality/Tourism 27,000 2.9

3. Is it difficult to find a job in Japan?

Getting a job in Japan is not easy, due to the following factors: the Japanese hierarchy struggling to hire foreign workers, visa application and language barrier. However, those factors are not all. It also depends highly on what skill set you have, the job market for that skill and how you polish yourself. Japanese companies are searching for talented workers. If you’re looking for adventure and invaluable cultural experience, consider looking for your next job overseas.

Conclusion

It involves a series of steps to move to the land of the rising sun, but it’s easier than ever to find your dream job there. Hope you know how to get a job in Japan after reading this blog. Any questions about location guides? Please leave below, we’re happy to help!

About Yuu Sato

Yuu Hiasa has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.