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For those who haven’t gone to Japanese universities! Job hunting in Japan

Japan has a rapidly aging population. With fewer working-age citizens, the country eagerly invites foreign talent to work in Japan. In fact, Japan has recently reached its record highest number of foreign workers. By the end of October 2018, there were over 1.4 million foreign workers in Japan. If you plan to migrate to Japan, you could become part of this population! With this simple guide, we hope to provide the best options for foreigners who are hunting for jobs in Japan.

Work in Japan: Careers for Foreigners

If you’re a foreigner looking to get employed in Japan, you don’t need to have graduated from a Japanese university. This country has many opportunities for you! But where are you supposed to hunt for jobs in Japan as a non-native? Here’s a look into which industries actively hire foreigners more often than not:

English Teachers

Teaching English is perhaps the most common job available to foreign workers in Japan. The demand for English language education remains high in the country, so many teaching companies aim to serve locals who seek this service. Since schools continue to integrate English in their curricula, students look for eligible English teachers. Meanwhile, adults want to learn the global language to enhance their communication skills and further their careers.

On eligibility, any bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement to get a job as an English teacher in Japan. Of course, English language proficiency is essential. You might have better chances if you’re a native English speaker. It’s alright if English is your second language! This way, you might be able to relate better with your students who are learning an entirely new language. Just be sure to secure a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification.

There are 2 options available if you want to teach English in Japan. You could teach in public schools as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT), who mainly supports a Japanese teacher of English (JTE). You could also teach in private learning institutions, commonly known as Eikaiwa or English conversation schools, which tend to be more tight-knit. If you have a knack for teaching, consider getting a job as an English teacher in Japan!

Your key to working as an English teacher in Japan is to join an ALT service operator in the country. A prominent example is Interac, which is Japan’s largest ALT provider. This is a private company that recruits ALTs to serve in all stages of the country’s public education system. For more details on job description and application requirements, see Interac.

Language Translators

If you have a background in Japanese studies, you might have considered becoming a translator. This trade is perfect since Japan is always in need of translation and interpretation services. Multilingual foreigners with Japanese language proficiency can explore openings in translation, localization, and interpretation!

Translation opportunities include academic jobs such as adapting literary works from Japanese to English (or even other languages) or vice versa. You might also be in charge of translating content in brochures, pamphlets, legal contracts, and instructional materials.

Localization is like a step above translation. This job involves adapting content to have it make sense in the target locale. Think of the North American dub of the Pokémon anime, where they called an onigiri a “jelly-filled doughnut” instead of a “rice ball.” You might find jobs in localizing anime, manga, video games, and websites.

Finally, interpretation is an impromptu translation. If you follow a celebrity or artist who’s been to Japanese talk shows, you must have noticed a person in the background taking notes before repeating what they’ve said but in Japanese. That could be you! As an interpreter, you will usually be working on a rapid-paced and real-time translation as a bridge between local and visiting business executives.

As a translator, you will have to stay on top of everything current in Japan. This skill is in constant and never-ending growth, so you have to remain meticulous with your output. Remember, you’ll have to be an expert in two different languages. If you have an excellent command of the Japanese language and are passionate about its culture, you might want to pursue a career in Japanese translation!

Consider joining the Japan Association of Translators (JAT) to engage in professional translation or interpretation. JAT is an officially recognized Japanese non-profit organization that offers many opportunities and resources to its network of over 700 elite global members. Visit its official website at JAT.

Service Staff

The service industry also values multilingual foreign talent. Staff members who can speak multiple languages are assets, especially in tourism services. You could easily hunt for jobs in hotels, resorts, and other busy tourist areas since Japan has minimal basic requirements to get employed as a foreigner in this industry.

You might have better chances of securing a job at a restaurant. Many operators of food establishments offer training sessions to orient foreigners about basic etiquette in the Japanese service industry. Some Japanese restaurant chain owners are looking into the eligibility of their businesses in the government’s foreigner training program.

If you have experience working in relevant businesses and have moderate Japanese language proficiency, finding work in Japan’s service industry will be quick. There may be some cultural differences (such as bowing to guests, the lack of leaving tips, and normalized running around an establishment), but it’s expected from a foreign land. You can surely adjust in no time!

Following the high demand of foreign nationals to join the service industry of Japan, you can easily find job listings in sites like Yolo-Japan and GaijinPot Jobs. There are also sites like FoodJob Japan that specialize in finding the best restaurant gig for you. These sites are all in English with all the necessary options, such as employment type, job description, and even Japanese level to filter the best results!

IT Specialists

Japan is known to be technologically advanced. The country continues to develop artificial intelligence (AI), web application services, and other software-based technologies. As such, there is a rising demand for skilled IT specialists, especially in the fields of software development. Because of Japan’s decline in working-age citizens, foreign computer engineers could help meet the country’s demand!

You’ll be glad to know that many Japanese firms are relaxing their Japanese language requirements for foreigners. Among them is the Japanese electronic and online retailing company, Rakuten, Inc.. They have made English their official language, so this Internet company began hiring more non-Japanese computer engineers. There also are many IT-based startup companies in Japan that aim to create a multicultural workplace, hoping to attract foreign talent with this approach.

Although you have many to work in an English-speaking environment as an IT specialist in Japan, you’d still have better chances if you’re equipped with significant Japanese skills. In any case, you’d mainly be working with computer language, which is generally the same in every country. Having Japanese language proficiency mostly applies to your everyday life in the country outside of work.


Whether it has been your goal to work in Japan or if you happen to consider it later in life, you can rest assured that Japan has many opportunities for foreigners. Although the openings are there, it is still vital to assess your knowledge of Japanese culture, customs, and language. Where you stand in these factors can determine how good your chances are at thriving in another country. If you’re hunting for jobs in Japan, consider these industries where foreign applicants are more than welcome!

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