What Is A Good Salary In Japan? Based on Occupation, Experience and Education

Salary is possibly the make-or-break factor when deciding upon a job opportunity. But hardly any foreigner knows what they should expect to earn in Japan. In other words, what is a good salary in Japan? If you are wondering the same question, this article will help you define good salary criteria and arm you with enough information to come up with a number that works for you.

1. Factors in determining a good salary

The most relevant criteria for determining what is a good yearly salary are:

1.1 Location and living cost

The most important criterion for a good salary is that it at least helps you to afford a comfortable life where you live. And anywhere in the world, the city is always more expensive than the countryside. So the salary for the same job with equivalent experience and industry can be considered good in some rural places but even below average in urban areas.

The most important criterion for a good salary is that it at least helps you to afford a comfortable life where you live.

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For example, according to Numbeo, renting a studio apartment outside of the city center costs ¥57,028 ($500) on average. On the other hand, in the city center, a person typically has to pay ¥83,039 ($750) for the rental price. In both places, the additional expense such as transportation, food, health care, and child care can and up from  ¥60,000 ($540) to ¥280,000 ($2,500) depending on the budget. This means that a person should earn at least ¥150,000 ($1300) to live in a city center like Tokyo.

1.2. Experience level

The more experienced you are, the higher salary you should expect. To be specific, two to five experiences will usually help the junior employee earn 32% more than the fresher who just graduate. A senior employee with 5+ years of experience can earn 36% more than those with less. 10+ and 15+ experience can mean respectively 21% and 35% increase in salary. If a salary is good, it has to match your experience level.

1.3. Education

You also need to consider a good salary, enough to make up for the tuition and other educational expense. In most cases, a high level of education also results in higher pay, but this vastly varies according to the profession. In business, for instance, certificate or diploma holders earn 24% less than people with bachelor’s degrees and 29% less than one with a master’s degree.

1.4. Company and industry

As we mentioned, the profession and the type of corporation you work for the impact a lot the standard “good salary”. Large companies and non-profit organizations tend to pay more than start-ups or small companies. Work in industries that are in high demand and require more training or apprenticeship years usually pay off higher wages.

In the survey conducted on the job site DODA the average salary in different industries is as follows:

Average Annual Salary in Japan by Industry
RankIndustrySalary (in JPY)Salary (in USD)
1Specialist Professions (Consulting/ Auditing)6,090,00054,375
2Planning/Management5,200,00046,429
3Technology (Electric, Electronic, Machinery)4,840,00043,214
4Technology (IT/Communication)4,630,00041,339
5Sales4,430,00039,554
6Financial Services4,250,00037,946
7Technology (Architecture/ Civil Engineering)4,140,00036,964
8Technology (Medical/Chemical/ Food)4,040,00036,071
9Creative3,800,00033,929
10Office Work/Assistant3,290,00029,375
11Retail sales/Service industry3,260,00029,107

1.5. Age and gender level

In Japan, there are other factors such as age and gender that can contribute to the expectation of “a good salary”. Regarding ages, the salaries are lowest for workers in their 20s and the number will gradually increase and peak at the age of 40s to 50s. After that, when people enter the semi-retirement period in their 60s or 70s, they usually have to work con contract. So the wages start to drop and may hit the bottom of the same as entry-level wage.

Average Annual Salary in Japan by Age
Age GroupCurrencyOverallMenWomen
20sJPY3,460,0003,650,0003,190,000
USD30,89332,58928,482
30sJPY4,550,0004,870,0003,860,000
USD40,62543,48234,464
40sJPY5,410,0005,870,0004,230,000
USD40,62543,48234,464
50sJPY6,610,0007,070,0004,450,000
USD59,018

 

63,12539,732

Female workers tend to earn 6% less than their male counterparts. The gap increases as they age as few women get a long-term career or are promoted to managers compared to men.

2. Good salary in japan

According to the survey by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, a Japanese worker on average earn ¥4,000,000 ($36,000) a year. That means about $333,333 ($3,000) a month. It seems that the average salary is quite low compared to the living cost and the experience level we mentioned above. But keep in mind that it is a figure for all industries and geographic areas.

Another way is to look at the median number. In the range from lowest salary of ¥304,000 ($2,700) to the highest of ¥2,300,000 ($20,000), the median is ¥545,000 ($5,000). So depending on your needs, making more than $333,333 ($3,000) or ¥545,000 ($5,000) a month can be considered a “good salary”. Typically the former figure is suitable for a single person and the latter fits the needs of a nuclear family. Of course, the salary can be much higher, even more than the average high salary of ¥2,300,000 ($20,000) if you work for a specific important job title with a lot of responsibility. And for a family of four, more than ¥6,000,000 a year or

Yearly Salary Range (in Yen)Monthly Salary RangePercentage
< ¥3,600,000 ($32k)< ¥304,000 ($2,7k)25%
¥3,700,000 ($33k) – ¥6,000,000 ($54k)¥304,000 ($2,7k) – ¥545,000 ($5k)25%
¥6,600,000 ($60k)– ¥18,000,000 ($160k)¥550,000 ($5k) – ¥1,510,000 ($13k)25%
¥18,300,000 ($166k)– ¥27,600,000 ($250k)¥1,520,000 ($14k) – ¥2,300,000 ($21k)25%

3. What kind of jobs typically pay a good salary?

3.1 Banking and finance (especially if you are young)

Director Jeff Nichols (R), cast members Joel Edgerton (L) and Ruth Negga pose during a photocall for the film “Loving” in competition at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier – RTSEGRO

Average Annual Salary: ¥4,460,000 ($40k)

This is the job with the best entry-level salary of ¥307,000 ($2,700) a month. With more experience, bankers and other financial positions such as accountants or auditors typically earn ¥453,000 ($4.1k) in their 30s. Even though there is a lot of work in finance functions across different industries, these jobs are not really open for non-Japanese. Indeed, ex-pats only take up less than 1% of employees in finance as the requirement is extremely high. And fluently speaking both English and Japanese is a must.

3.2 IT Professional

Average Salary: ¥4,840,000 ($43,214)

Unlike finance, Information Technology in Japan welcomes a lot of foreign workers (2.63%), making it one of the most foreign-friendly occupations. This is also an industry that sees a quick promotion process, possibly based on ability rather than age. Among all jobs in this sector At a managerial level, the monthly wage is at least ¥517,000 ($4,700).

3.3 Mechanic and Engineer

Average Salary: ¥4,840,000

If you have experience with machines and love repairing all types of motor vehicles, there are plenty of mechanic jobs in Japan, which pay well. The more complicated the vehicle you maintain and the higher the level of responsibility is, the more money you get paid. For instance, a plane mechanic commands a higher wage than a car mechanic. Another relevant job is mechanical engineer, but this requires an engineering degree or qualifications.

3.4 English Teacher

Average Salary: ¥3,500,000 ($31k)

English teacher is usually a safe choice or a traditional gateway job for foreigners in Japan. A typical English teacher at a public school makes about ¥290,000 ($2,6k) a month. Teaching at private or privately-owned English conversation schools usually offers a higher rate, sometimes up to as much as ¥4,500 ($40) an hour. Besides native language, the requirement may involve a bachelor’s degree and an ESL certificate.

4. How TO NEGOTIATE higher salaries?

Indeed, salary negotiations from the beginning are not common in Japanese companies, unless you are someone the company really needs. But if the salary is lower than you can afford to take, you still need to have a go. There are some tips to help you tactically raise the wage level.

  • Mention the national/ city/industry salary average. By giving a fair number, you make your expectation more reasonable.
  • Mention the living cost, marital status, number of kids, location,… This is also a possible baseline to adjust the salary
  • Mention offers from other companies. This can prove that you are a sought-after candidate that has many options. So the company has to make a competitive offer to win over you.
  • Convince that you are worth the high salary. Consider yourself as a type of investment, which will bring a high return to the company. You can show the recruiters your achievement in previous jobs such as exceeding KPI, increasing sales, company growth … and how you do to gain the same or better impact in this job.

Note:

  • When calculating your salary expectation, add tax. For example, $3,000 is more than enough for your living cost, but adding tax, the figure should be $4,000.
  • When considering one offer, looking at not only wage but also other perks. The possible perks include a flexible working schedule, housing allowances, number of paid leaves, breakfast or lunch fees, subsidized training.

FAQs

Why is a good salary important?

From a personal perspective, you need a good salary to cover the basic living cost, afford some hobbies and treat yourself to some entertainment or traveling. Some people even aim for high income to donate to charity. Professionally, a good salary is a kind of motivation to help an employee dedicate more to his/her work. Besides, he/she also gains more confidence to deliver well his responsibility.

What is considered a good salary?

It depends on some criteria including location, living cost, profession, education level, experience, and even gender (what is typical in Japan). So after considering all these factors, any figure above the average probably qualifies as a “good salary”.

Why do women earn less in Japan?

Japanese women do have a lower salary than men in almost all industries. This is part of the traditional norm in Japanese society. A possible explanation is that women must take care of housework so they are in a disadvantaged position to compete with men at work. Especially affected by maternity leave, women lose their chances of upward mobility. Furthermore, many women are still under pressure to quit the job and become full-time housewives.

How much are annual salary increments in Japan?

In Japan, employees can expect a salary review no longer than every 16 months when they can receive an average increment of around 8%.

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.