Jobs in Japan for foreigners (with visa requirements)
Updated 11 August 2023
Japan presents an attractive workplace destination, combining a unique cultural experience with a dynamic job market that values international talent. Often called the land of the rising sun, Japan continues to evolve and adapt to global trends, so there's demand for skilled foreigners across various industries. If you're contemplating moving to Japan, understanding the entry requirements and job opportunities can help you determine if it's the right choice for you. In this article, we provide an overview of popular jobs in Japan for foreigners, look at potential visa options and provide an overview of Japan's workplace landscape.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
Examples of jobs in Japan for foreigners
When looking for jobs in Japan for foreigners, consider the type of visa that you have or are eligible for. Some jobs require a particular type, such as a work visa, while others may be available. Here are several popular fields where foreigners can find work in Japan:
English language teacher
Teaching English is a popular option for foreigners seeking employment in Japan. Opportunities are available in public schools, private language institutions and universities. To become an English teacher in Japan, candidates require a bachelor's degree and a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification. Japanese language proficiency is helpful but not always necessary.
Interpreter and translator
For Japan to continue to expand its international presence in business, tourism and cultural exchange, it demands skilled linguists. Bilingual individuals, particularly those proficient in Japanese and English who also know specialised industry terminology, can find opportunities in sectors such as technology, finance, legal and entertainment. Their linguistic expertise and cultural understanding foster effective communication and collaboration between Japan and the global community.
Japan's financial sector, particularly in Tokyo, is an important hub for international finance, offering opportunities for foreigners with expertise in investment banking, asset management and financial analysis. A degree in finance, business or a related field and experience in the financial services sector and Japanese language proficiency can enhance your employment prospects in Japan.
Benefits of the Specified Skilled Worker (SSW) Programme
The SSW visa is a great option for foreign nationals looking to bring their talent and skills to Japan. This residence status allows foreign nationals to work within 12 specified industry fields. The SSW programme in Japan offers extensive support to foreigners, including pre-arrival guidance, transportation arrangements and assistance with housing, banking, contracts and paperwork advice. This package includes orientation sessions, Japanese language study opportunities, consultations, social interaction events and job-switching support.
The SSW visa is divided into two categories: SSW (i) and SSW (ii). The main differences between these categories are the skill level and the benefits they provide:
This category is for those with a certain level of expertise and experience in one of the designated industries facing labour shortages. Those seeking this visa require passing both a skills test and a Japanese language test to qualify for it. The visa validates five years but does not lead to permanent residency.
This category is for those with advanced skills based on a points system and experience in the highest-demand areas. The key advantage of the SSW (ii) visa is that it allows for an indefinite stay in Japan and the possibility of applying for permanent residency. SSW (ii) visa holders can also bring their family members to Japan, provided they meet certain criteria.
Eligible jobs for the SSW visa
The SSW visa covers job roles including:
Japan requires skilled nurses, particularly those with foreign language skills, who can care for international patients. To work as a nurse in Japan, foreign nurses typically undergo a qualification assessment by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. This process may involve taking a Japanese nursing exam or completing additional training. Proficiency in the Japanese language is crucial for effective communication with patients and colleagues.
The cleaning industry in Japan offers job opportunities for foreigners in various settings, including commercial buildings, hotels and residential properties. As a cleaner in Japan, attention to detail, a strong work ethic and adaptability to Japanese cleanliness standards are beneficial skills. Although formal qualifications are not always necessary for cleaning positions, Japanese language proficiency can be advantageous. Securing a job in the cleaning industry can serve as a step to more specialised roles or managerial positions within the sector.
Welders play a crucial role in Japan's manufacturing and construction sectors. Japan seeks to maintain its competitive edge in the global maritime market, so it recognises welders for SSW (ii) visas as part of the shipbuilding and ship machinery industry. Experience in welding techniques such as tungsten inert gas, metal inert gas and arc welding can enhance your job prospects.
Japan often experiences a shortage of skilled plumbers, particularly when natural disasters, such as earthquakes and typhoons, affect regions. Those with plumbing expertise offer valuable skills to help repair and maintain water systems in residential and commercial properties. The authorities recognise plumbing roles for SSW (ii) visas as part of the construction industry. Relevant qualifications, such as plumbing certifications and practical experience, are important factors for potential employers.
Japan's agricultural sector requires farmers. Working in livestock farming in Japan may involve animal care, breeding and managing farm operations. Japanese language proficiency is often essential to understand local regulations, communicating with farm staff and marketing your products to local consumers.
Airport baggage handler
As Japan's tourism industry grows, the demand for efficient airport operations, including baggage handling, rises. Job responsibilities include loading and unloading luggage, operating baggage conveyor systems and adhering to safety regulations. While formal qualifications may not be strictly necessary for airport baggage handling positions, previous experience in a similar role or customer service can be advantageous.
Japan's thriving food scene benefits from the expertise of foreigners with experience in restaurant management. Their diverse background in the global culinary industry can introduce innovative management practices and support customer service standards. Restaurant managers from abroad can use their understanding of multinational preferences and dining habits to assist Japanese restaurants in catering to the needs of foreign tourists and residents.
Alternative visas for working in Japan
The Japanese government offers several visa options for foreigners seeking employment there. Some common visa options include:
A work visa allows foreign nationals to reside and engage in paid employment within industries with lower staff demand. The government issues work visas based on specific job categories, such as education, business management or entertainment. The duration of the visa varies depending on an applicant's job category and contract terms, but it's usually issued for one, three or five years, and you can renew it. Applicants also require relevant qualifications, skills or professional experience for the specific job category they're applying for.
Working Holiday visa
The Working Holiday visa allows young people aged 18–30 to have an extended holiday in Japan while working to fund their stay if work wasn't the primary reason for coming to the country. A significant advantage of this visa is the absence of job pre-arrangement requirements, allowing individuals to explore various employment options upon arrival. This visa provides an opportunity for cultural exchange and permits work for up to one year. Applicants require a passport from an eligible country to meet health and character conditions.
What is it like to work in Japan?
Japan offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity, making it an intriguing destination for foreign nationals seeking new opportunities. As you consider moving to Japan for work, take these factors into account:
Japanese workplace culture: Japanese workplace culture is often formal and hierarchical, emphasising teamwork and respect for authority. It values punctuality, politeness and attention to detail.
Japanese language: Although some companies in Japan use English as their working language, knowing Japanese can significantly increase your job opportunities and make daily life more manageable. Many choose to study the language to support their visa applications.
Japanese business etiquette: Japanese business etiquette is often more formal than other countries, with such customs as bowing, exchanging business cards and using honorific titles. Familiarising yourself with these customs can help you make a positive impression in the workplace.
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