Need a Change? Over 10 Different Job Types for Foreigners in Japan
By Alex Sturmey
Foreigners come to Japan for all sorts of reasons: sushi, temples or getting on the wrong plane and ending up in Tokyo. However, if you’re looking to settle down, you’re going to need two things: martial arts training to deal with the hordes of crazy insects and, of course, a job. You can decide on the order for those two things.
Not speaking from personal experience or anything but, once you’ve had your dreams crushed and you’re told that you can’t become “Tokyo Man” and stand with your underwear over your trousers at Shinjuku station, you might have to start looking for other positions. You’ve heard that the easiest entry into the country is teaching English in some capacity but, fortunately, there are numerous types of employment opportunities in Japan beyond the typical. That being said, if anyone is looking to become a sidekick for a totally real superhero then put your name in the comments below.
Let’s do a little matchmaking and figure out what type of job could work for you, based on what brought you (or what might bring you) to the land of the rising sun. (Plus, some oh-so-surprising wild card job picks for foreigners in Japan.)
1. If you enjoy the high-risk, high-reward life, give consulting a shot
On GaijinPot, there is a heavy stream of jobs for multiple consulting-slash-recruiting agencies. If you have a basic understanding of Japanese (or can at least pick it up quickly) then consulting might be a way forward.
The benefits are simple: a comfy chair and all-year AC and heating. Most people are able to start their own companies a few years down the road with the portfolio that they build. If you’re looking to stick around in Japan for the long term and can handle the pressure that a consulting job brings, then there are plenty of options to choose from.
Consulting: Search Now
2. If you’re always the one whose grandparents ask to “fix the Facebook,” try an IT job
Japan is known for its technology. Have you ever seen the toilets here? The job board is awash with old companies looking to bolster their ranks, or startups looking to bring in fresh blood to get things off the ground.
A lot of Japanese companies often want to tap into the growing foreigner market in Japan.
From software engineers to back-end developers and other names I’m only vaguely aware of, Japan has it all. Although the pay is often lower compared to other countries, it’s offset by the reasonable cost of living here — the one caveat being you’ll need conversational, if not business-level, Japanese.
IT Jobs: Search Now
3. If you know a bit of Japanese and your own culture, try an advertising job
A lot of Japanese companies often want to tap into the growing foreigner market in Japan. One of the biggest things you’ll need is a firm grasp of the foreign community. I’ll give you some tips: none of us understand how to bow properly, we all enjoy sushi, yes we know how to use chopsticks and I’m pretty sure none of us like natto. There. Beyond this, it won’t hurt to have a good understanding of Japanese culture, as well.
Advertising/Marketing: Search Now
4. If you want to showcase your knowledge of Japan, try a hospitality or service job
With the aforementioned explosion of the growing expat community here in Japan and with the 2020 Olympics just around the corner, there are plenty of hotels, hostels and restaurants springing up across the country looking for English speakers. This also includes travel agencies and tour guides looking for people to take tourists around the country.
Hospitality: Search Now
Service: Search Now
5. If you want to improve your Japanese the fastest way possible, become an ALT
An ALT, or assistant language teacher, is an excellent opportunity for you to not only immerse yourself in the culture of Japan (and get your foot in the door) but to also learn the language. Nearly all ALT jobs require little to no Japanese skills. If you want to come to Japan with only a vague understanding that the country has its own language— like I did — then becoming an ALT is an excellent route.
You’ll likely be placed in the countryside, so far away from an urban area that a “city” is just a story parents tell children to help them sleep at night. You’ll be forced to communicate in Japanese, not only in the workplace (with Japanese staff) but in the community as well.
Education: Search Now
6. If you want to put your language skills to good use, try a translation job
If you’ve studied Japanese and you’re able to write even the scariest of kanji, you’ll be able to find all sorts of jobs from companies in a wide variety of industries. Be warned: you might need a small bit of experience in some of them.
Translation: Search Now
7. Wild card: wedding minister
Yes. This is an actual job here. Cities across the country are looking for people with conversational Japanese to, well, minister weddings. You’ll be able to pick up a few things on the weekend. If you’re looking for something to slap on the CV to make future employers go “Hang on a second,” then this could be the job for you. It’s usually just a part-time kind of gig and — spoiler alert — you don’t actually have to be a minister to apply.
Wedding Minister: Search Now
Here are a couple more interesting jobs ready for the taking:
- Automobile Interior Design Engineer | More Info.
- Architectural design staff | More Info.
- Cooking Teacher | More Info.
- Video Director | More Info.
- Drone-related Engineer | More Info.
- Web developer for Virtual Reality company | More Info.
- Toy designer | More Info.
What do you enjoy about your job in Japan? Or, what job do you want to find in Japan? Comment below!