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Can You Find a Job in Japan With No Japanese Skills?

Not only is it possible to find work in Japan with subpar Japanese skills, with some work, it might even be easier!

By 4 min read

Are there jobs in Japan that don’t require Japanese language skills? You bet they do! Of course, knowing the language will go a long way. But these days, there are more jobs in Japan for foreigners that can be found without knowing a single word of Japanese than ever before.

Let’s look at three common jobs foreigners find in Japan, even with basic Japanese skills, and discuss some considerations for each.

1. English Teaching

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Full-time and part-time options are available.

Teaching English in Japan is, for most, the quickest route to securing work in Japan. Generally speaking, minimal restrictions exist, and the work is seemingly everywhere. However, in all but the most expensive neighborhoods in Japan, living on an ESL teacher’s salary is absolutely doable. Moreover, since ESL jobs are plentiful, you can often stack assignments to increase your income or switch between schools or dispatchers as you gain experience. Think of it like freelancing.

  • “No Nihongo” Advantage: Teaching English in Japan without Japanese can be beneficial, as many employers prefer Japanese-free classrooms, especially for children.
  • Salary Range: Salaries typically range from ¥220,000 to ¥300,000 per month, making living on a teacher’s salary feasible despite being lower compared to other countries.
  • Live Within Your Means: Living costs are relatively low, with minimal transportation, healthcare, food and utilities expenses. However, be cautious if you have debt from home, as managing finances might become stressful.
  • Be Proactive: Seek corporate clients if your visa allows, though landing such assignments may require some Japanese proficiency or a strong referral network. The upside is the pay is much better.

2. Hospitality Jobs

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Land a job in Japan’s booming hospitality industry.

Front and back-of-the-house hospitality jobs in Japan are relatively easy to find, especially in larger cities, if you’re looking to supplement full-time work with part-time hours. Here are some key points to remember:

Positions can be found in hotels (both business and fancy ones), resorts, conference centers and, of course, at izakayas, sushi joints, and all manner of restaurants throughout the country. Some hospitality jobs come with very strong benefit packages (especially in touristy areas like Hokkaido), so it pays to check the GaijinPot Jobs board often.

  • A Little Japanese Helps: Some places may require basic Japanese skills if you interact with guests. However, hospitality posts for non-Japanese residents tend to involve tasks away from customer-facing areas. Investing in learning Japanese offers numerous opportunities, both professionally and personally.
  • Hospitality Jobs Can Help You Study Japanese: Doing hospitality work can improve your Japanese over time, making it worthwhile if you plan to live in Japan.
  • It’s Competitive: Vocational schools for hospitality careers are plentiful in Japan, leading to competition with locals for jobs. However, language skills can give you an edge, especially in tourist-oriented roles.

3. Jobs in IT

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With a remote IT position, any cafe can be your office.

Like Hospitality, there has been a huge rise in English-only software positions in Japan. Experience requirements vary for these roles, with some firms hiring former teachers transitioning to tech through local boot camps. Some companies recruit overseas and facilitate remote work with their Japanese teams, often using an “employer of record” service. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Timing Matters: Secure a position early. In Japan, age can impact job prospects, even in the tech industry. Don’t procrastinate if you’re serious about working in Japan, especially in tech.
  • Salary Considerations: Tech salaries in Japan are typically lower than in other countries, but the lower cost of living can offset this difference in most areas. Entry-level positions are usually between ¥5M-¥7M annually.
  • Networking Opportunities: Tech professionals can network extensively before relocating to Japan. Utilize platforms like LinkedIn to connect with local professionals and stay updated on job opportunities, including those posted on GaijinPot.
  • Experience Requirements: While experience is essential, newcomers can gain experience in Japan through boot camps, meetups and associations. Find a supportive community and embrace opportunities to learn and grow.

Other Jobs in Japan

There are many other jobs you can line up in Japan that don’t require Japanese; these three are just the biggies. Below are a few other areas that typically advertise without a stated need for Japanese language skills:

  • Construction and manufacturing work
  • Bartending
  • DJing
  • Writing (editorial, or “content”)
  • Recruitment
  • Receptionist positions at health/beauty clinics, legal offices, etc.
  • Overseas sales roles (automobile exports, primarily, but also hotel and tourism)
  • Marketing positions (particularly in e-commerce)

Finally, even though you can work in Japan with no Japanese, the longer you live in an English bubble, the more challenging life remains. So, while you can find work without Japanese, the most rewarding life in Japan includes more Japanese than zero.

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