Updated September 5, 2023
Jobs in Japan for Foreigners: What are the Options?
The Japanese government is considering easing employment restrictions on non-citizens, which means that more jobs in Japan for foreigners might open up soon.
However, even with this new encouragement from the government, entering Japan’s job market as a foreigner is still often easier said than done. There’s a lot to consider before you can even land a job, and the process can be overwhelming. That’s why being prepared is essential.
In this article: 📝
- The Most Popular Jobs in Japan for Foreigners
- Highest Paying Jobs in Japan for Foreigners
- Full-Time vs. Part-Time Jobs in Japan for Foreigners
- Is It Easy for a Foreigner to Get a Job in Japan?
- Finding Jobs in Japan for Foreigners – the Usual Requirements
- Working in Japan as a Foreigner – 4 Helpful Tips to Get Started
- The Bottom Line
So where do you even begin? Well, that’s where this guide comes in.
It details everything you need to know about finding work in Japan as a foreigner – whether you're searching for software developer jobs or to teach English.
I'll cover which jobs are the most common, and the requirements you’ll need to work as a foreigner in Japan. You’ll also find several valuable tips to help you get started as soon as possible.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
The Most Popular Jobs in Japan for Foreigners
Japan’s job market is as extensive as any country, which means there’s always something for everyone. However, there are specific industries where foreigners seem to thrive the most, making them popular choices among foreign job-seekers in Japan.
With that said, here are the most common jobs in Japan for foreigners:
Teaching English as a second language (ESL) is one of the go-to career choices for foreigners working in Japan. It’s not just private tutoring too; you can also teach in private institutions or public schools, depending on how qualified you are.
The minimum requirements for English teaching jobs in Japan are usually a bachelor’s degree, a native level (or near-native level) of English proficiency, and a spotless criminal record. Having teaching certifications and experience can also work in your favor.
While the market tends to be more competitive these days, it can still be worth checking out, as the national average for English teachers in Japan is around ¥351,000 monthly, according to Glassdoor’s data.
Of course, the exact amount you can earn as an English teacher varies, depending on the institution and your experience.
That said, if you’re interested in working as an English teacher in Japan, the JET Programme can be an excellent starting point.
Working in the hospitality and tourism industries is another popular choice among foreigners. After all, being proficient in other languages is considered an asset in these fields.
There are numerous options to choose from as well – from hotels and resorts to cafes and restaurants. However, the salary itself depends on what position you qualify for.
For example, Salary Expert’s data shows that you can earn as much as ¥13.5M per year if you’re a hotel manager. In contrast, you can only make an average of ¥3.41M annually as a hotel concierge in Japan.
There’s also the matter of where you’re working. Establishments near tourist attractions or bustling areas are more likely to hire foreigners to cater to a more diverse pool of customers.
However, you should know that you’ll need a solid grasp of the Japanese language – at least N3 to N2 level – to work in these industries. You’ll also need to show proof of your skills, usually in the form of certificates and exam results.
Japan’s tech industry is another field many foreigners tend to favor for job opportunities, especially since the country is known for producing some of the world’s most advanced technologies.
At Japan Dev, we're passionate about helping people find tech jobs in Japan. You can check out out our list of jobs for software engineers here.
Like its service industry, Japan’s job market for IT professionals is vast, so you can always find an opening for your specific specialty.
Working as an IT professional in Japan, whether as a software developer or an IT project manager, can also be a lucrative option. Check out our Japan Developer Salary Guide to learn everything you need to know about salaries for IT jobs in Japan.
Please note, you might encounter some barriers if you want to enter the country’s IT industry, so you'll want to do your research and be careful to choose a great company.
Still, despite these challenges IT jobs in Japan can be an excellent path, especially if you manage to find the perfect company to work for.
If you’re interested in learning more about finding work in the IT industry, we suggest looking at this article. Although it focuses more on software engineering, the tips you’ll find here can also extend to other IT jobs.
Translator or Interpreter
Foreigners who are particularly gifted with languages can also work as translators or interpreters in Japan. It’s a versatile career choice, too, since almost any industry can benefit from translation and interpreting services.
Plus, they don’t just need Japanese to English translations and vice-versa. Thanks to globalization, there’s an increasing demand for skilled translators and interpreters for other languages as well.
While you’ll need a high level of proficiency in Japanese – and specific certifications, in some cases, this career choice can be a good idea for foreigners who want to leverage their language skills. The average salary is around ¥5.93M annually, which could be higher the more experienced you are.
Aside from tech, Japan is also well-known for having an advanced engineering industry, and the jobs in this field pay incredibly well. The average salary for engineering jobs in Japan is usually about ¥7.07M a year, and this can be even higher as you gain more experience in the field.
Most of the engineering jobs in Japan for foreigners are in the automobile industry, where they’re often tasked with designing and improving parts. This can be an excellent opportunity as Japan’s car industry is considered one of the best globally.
Highest Paying Jobs in Japan for Foreigners
While most of the popular jobs in Japan for foreigners pay well enough, especially if you have plenty of experience, entering more specialized fields usually entails higher salaries.
Apart from what was already mentioned, some of the other specialized industries that have the highest paying jobs in Japan include the following:
- Sales and Marketing
For example, recruiting jobs in Japan pay an average of around ¥4.05M annually, which can sometimes be higher than ¥10M if you’re experienced enough.
For the other industries, the highest average salaries are as follows:
|Industry or Field
|Average Salary Per Year
|¥9M to ¥12.8M
|¥11M to ¥13.8M
|¥8.73M to ¥18.4M
|¥7.81M to ¥12.9M
|¥18.2M to ¥27.6M
These are according to Salary Explorer’s recent data, and these figures may vary depending on factors like experience, specialization, and position.
With that said, if you specialize in any of these fields, you’re more likely to earn more. The higher pay can be convenient, especially considering the generally higher cost of living in Japan.
Full-Time vs. Part-Time Jobs in Japan for Foreigners
Foreigners should also be aware that not everyone can work full-time in Japan. In most cases, you’ll need special permits from the government to work legally as a foreign national in Japan.
In fact, even if you already have residential status, this can still apply since it will depend on your residency’s limitations and specific category. For example, you’ll be only allowed to work in any industry or change your profession whenever you want if you’re any of the following:
- Spouse or child of a Japanese national
- Long-term resident
- Permanent resident
- Spouse or child of a permanent resident
Otherwise, you’ll be limited to the specific profession or industry to which your residential status is attached, such as “legal or accounting services,” “journalist,” “professor,” among others. If you want to change your job or industry, you’ll need to apply for another permit or have your specific residential status changed.
You should also know that if you’re a student, college or lower, and/or a dependent, you’re not allowed to work in any industry or participate in any income-generating activity.
If you want to do so, you’ll need to apply and get a permit from Japan’s Immigration Bureau, and you’ll need to specify what type of work you’ll be engaging in. The only exception is if you’re only working part-time, but this option has its limitations as well.
In this case, students can only engage in part-time work if it meets the following conditions:
- It won’t negatively affect their studies.
- They can only work a maximum of 28 hours per week.
- They’re only allowed to work a maximum of 8 hours per day when school isn’t in session.
- Jobs in the adult entertainment industry are off-limits, even cleaning and dishwashing jobs.
In most cases, the available part-time jobs in Japan for students tend to be entry-level positions, and they don’t pay as well compared to full-time employment.
Is It Easy for a Foreigner to Get a Job in Japan?
So, considering what was already mentioned, is it easy for a foreigner to get a job in Japan? The answer to this is that it depends. That’s because many factors can affect how easy or difficult it would be to find work as a foreigner in Japan.
Some examples of these include your highest educational attainment, language proficiency, work experience, level of competency in your specific industry, and the demand for your particular skills in your chosen field.
The good news is that Japan is looking to hire more foreigners since it’s estimated that they’ll need approximately 6.74 million foreign employees by the year 2040.
This is an initiative by the Japanese government to ease the labor shortage their country is currently facing. Of course, as mentioned, not all domestic firms are willing to hire foreign employees since it usually entails additional costs for their companies.
Nevertheless, things seem to be looking up for foreign job seekers, especially since more Japanese employers are warming up to the idea, particularly in the tech industry.
In addition, the Japanese government is becoming more proactive about assisting qualified foreigners so that they can find work in Japan, creating programs like the Specified Skilled Worker (SSW) that offer more job opportunities to skilled foreigners.
Multiple government agencies are also working together to provide foreigners the support they need to have a more positive work experience in Japan.
Finding Jobs in Japan for Foreigners – the Usual Requirements
Like with any country, there are certain requirements you need to comply with if you want to work in Japan as a foreigner.
While some fields like engineering can have more specific requirements that you need to meet before you can find a job, you only need the following in most cases:
- A valid work visa
- Proficiency in Japanese
- College degree, or enough work experience
- A CV or resume
- Pass the interview
Among all of these, having a valid work visa is considered the most critical since that’s what determines your eligibility to work in Japan as a foreign national. However, this can be tricky as Japan has different categories for work visas, depending on what industry you’re in.
There are seven categories for long-term stays or work visas: official, diplomatic, start-up, specified, general, working, and highly skilled professional. These are further divided into subcategories, and the conditions for each one varies as well.
The designated period of stay is usually the primary difference for these visas, which typically range from a few months to 5 years. The only exception is for diplomatic visas, whose duration is determined by how long their mission in the country will be.
As for language proficiency, the restrictions have eased considerably over the years. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find more job opportunities if you have at least an N2 level of Japanese proficiency.
In terms of educational attainment and work experience, it will ultimately depend on your specific industry and the position you’re applying for.
Working in Japan as a Foreigner – 4 Helpful Tips to Get Started
Now that you’re more familiar with the different jobs in Japan for foreigners, let’s discuss how you can get started.
Here are four helpful tips you can consider:
1. Do Your Research
Before anything, it’s best to educate yourself about what it’s like to work in Japan as a foreigner. Apart from the requirements and work restrictions for foreign employees, you should also know that the workplace culture in Japan tends to differ considerably from other countries.
Doing your research won’t just allow you to learn what specific requirements you need to get a job in Japan as a foreigner. It will also help familiarize you with what to expect once you find and land a job, which can help you have a more positive work experience overall.
2. Look for Job Opportunities Online
If you’re unsure of where to start job hunting, one of the easiest and most convenient ways to do so is by using the numerous resources you can find online. Fortunately, there are many foreigner-friendly job listing sites you can use to look for employment opportunities, such as Daijob, Gaijinpot, and LinkedIn.
Plus, if you’re looking for jobs in a specific field, such as the IT industry, you can also check out online job boards like Japan Dev to look for potential employment in Japan.
3. Prepare Your Resume
Once you find potential employment opportunities, the next step is to prepare your resume. Having a well-written resume is critical for any job since that’s how employers can determine your suitability for the role.
In Japan, it’s standard practice to attach a passport-style headshot to your resume. You’ll need to wear something formal, like a suit, and make sure that it’s professional-looking and not a selfie or a candid photo.
In terms of the content, it’s best to specify why you’re interested in that particular position and highlight why hiring you can benefit the company. You should state how you’ll be contributing to its success.
4. Prepare for the Job Interview
Your potential employers will most likely conduct your interview online if you’re still overseas. If that’s the case, make sure that you have everything prepared beforehand. This means ensuring a stable internet connection, a clear webcam, and a functional headset with a microphone.
It’s also best if you learn more about the company before the interview to show them how committed you are to getting this position. For more valuable interview tips, you can check out this article.
The Bottom Line
Working and living in Japan can be a rewarding experience. Still, it’s not always easy to find the best jobs in Japan for foreigners, mainly since their requirements and culture differ significantly from other countries.
However, with the country becoming more open to hiring foreign workers, more employment opportunities in Japan will soon be accessible.
And if you want to work in tech in Japan? Check out our list of software developer jobs in Japan.
Latest Tech Jobs 🇯🇵
Explore the top developer jobs in Japan for foreigners
Get Job Alerts
Sign up for our newsletter to get hand-picked tech jobs in Japan – straight to your inbox.