3 Realistic Jobs in Japan for International Graduates | Top Universities

3 Realistic Jobs in Japan for International Graduates

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated April 11, 2021 Updated April 11, 2021

This article is sponsored by American University.

Maybe you’ve grown up on anime and manga. Perhaps you’re a devout fan of sumo, samurai and geisha. Japan has a bit of a starry quality for many outsiders interested in the culture, but international graduates often have to put aside their dreams of working on anime or becoming a geisha — only extremely rarely do non-Japanese workers get these types of jobs. You can, however, aim to have a long and happy career in Japan, if you know how to market the skills the Japanese most often seek from foreign workers.

Business transfer jobs in Japan

If you’re looking to work in Japan in the long term, the best way to secure steady work is to start at a company in your own country, which you know has a presence in Japan. Apply and make it known from the start you hope to transfer to live and work in Japan. Eventually or even right away, you might be transferred to the Japanese office. Getting a job in Japan via a business transfer offers long-term job security. Whenever you want to go back home or if you want to work in another country, if you perform well, your employer might be able to easily arrange your transfer.

TEFL jobs in Japan

TEFL jobs are one of the most common means of employment for native English speakers in Japan. TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) offers a number of options for international graduates in Japan, including living in metropolitan areas like Tokyo. The Japanese Embassy of the United States reports 40,000 Americans work in Tokyo alone. TEFL jobs might include:

  • Working as an assistant teacher at a public or private middle or high school alongside a Japanese English teacher
  • Teaching for a private school that specializes in English instruction; the parents of school-age kids pay for these optional lessons, and the small private schools do nothing but teach English; you may also teach adults looking to advance their English knowledge
  • Working in an administrative position at a teacher exchange program headquarters

TEFL jobs in Japan don’t always require previous teaching experience or even a teaching degree. However, if you apply without a specialized degree, you may not get a call back. Because TEFL jobs in Japan are so commonly sought by foreigners from around the world, there’s a lot of competition for these roles. Get a Masters in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and you’re more likely to be considered to teach English in another country like Japan.

IT jobs in Japan

Japan is home to some of the world’s most innovative companies. As a technology leader, you might think it has plenty of native IT workers to fill all the tech positions, but to truly be innovative, Japanese companies recognize that they need more global perspectives. Training in information technology will prepare you to find IT jobs in Japan, making strides in industries such as the auto industry, the computer industry, and virtually any other industry — there’s always a need for more efficient technology to help businesses thrive.

Additional possibilities for work in Japan

The Japan Times reports there were 717,504 foreign workers in Japan in 2013, a number up 5.1% from 2012. You’re not limited to just the three careers above when aiming to work in Japan, but you’re likely to find the most success opting for a realistic and traditional approach. That being said, some foreigners have found success as:

  • Foreign models and extras in TV and film productions
  • Investment bankers
  • Bartenders or “hosts” and “hostesses”
  • Professors
  • Researchers
  • English-language journalists

You might also consider studying abroad in Japan with a student visa. You can start networking with professionals during your studies. Those connections may prove essential to finding work in Japan once you start looking.

Competition for jobs in Japan is fierce, even among the sectors most likely to hire foreign workers. If you go in expecting to work in the field that made you fall in love with Japan, like anime or manga, you turn an already competitive situation into a nearly impossible one. Start your career in Japan through one of the more conventional paths, and do everything you can to make yourself a more attractive job candidate. Maybe someday you’ll be able to pursue other passions, but you won’t get a work visa without a realistic career plan.

This article was originally published in July 2014 . It was last updated in April 2021

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