Are you thinking about working in Japan, but the idea of being locked inside a room full of children makes you cringe? Well, you’re probably not the only one. Teaching in Japan certainly isn’t for everyone, and while it can certainly be a way to get your foot in the door at some companies (especially if you’re lacking experience in other fields), rest assured that there are plenty of other jobs in Japan besides teaching English. Don’t be afraid to ask around. A good reference can really go a long way.
Considering how a great number of people looking for work in Japan have already studied Japanese to some degree, it should be no surprise that translation is one of the most popular fields. And if you already have a BA in Japanese, then you could be halfway to nabbing that dream job of yours.
While most companies will want you to have that JLPT N1 certificate, you’ll still be required to take a company translation test. No degree or certificate will bypass your trial by fire, but if you have the skills, it can be a very rewarding job. Just remember to keep studying. You never know which unfamiliar kanji will be lurking around the corner.
If you can fluently communicate with your coworkers and superiors in Japanese (listen up ALTs), then you can most likely work any typical office job in Japan. Supposing you are very understanding when it comes to concepts like required overtime, mandatory company outings, and other aspects of Japanese business culture, then you should be fine.
If English is your first language, then it’s worth noting that the amount of companies pushing English usage is growing. Big Japanese companies, such as Rakuten and Pasona, have English as the main language used in the office. Even if you’re looking for jobs in Japan besides teaching English, it’s always possible your company may ask you to give a lesson to your coworkers.
Either way, regardless of whether you need English or not, just do your best to keep improving your knowledge of the Japanese language, culture, and business culture, and you’ll be ready when the right opportunity comes along.
Software / Web Developer
Engineering, software development, and web development is where the real demand is in Japan. So much so that many companies waive the need for any Japanese fluency. This is a big plus for any engineers who’ve always dreaming of working in Japan, but could never get past the language barrier.
It still helps to study Japanese, but so long as you can understand your assignment and provide results, then you’re good to go. You’ll still have to take a company test to demonstrate your skills, but even if you’re a self taught ALT, there’s no reason to deny yourself the chance. Your wallet will thank you.
If you have a way with words, then why not share them? You don’t need to be fluent in Japanese to be a writer in Japan, but if you are looking to work for an English newspaper or magazine, your options may be quite limited. Try building up a writing portfolio so when those writing opportunities do come, you’ll be able to show what you’re capable of.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Try asking your friends or coworkers if they have any projects you can write about. Remember no job is too small, and everything you write you gain experience. If you have a passion for writing (and love Japan), check with us for an opportunity to write for Japanese Please.
You don’t need to be Japanese to work retail. While you may have to consider if your visa allows it, or if the company will sponsor you (it’s rare, but it happens), you’ll notice there are tons of places hiring out there. A basic understanding of Japanese is usually all you need, at least to work in the back. But if you are more confident with your language abilities, then try to take center stage and greet those customers as they come in the door.
If you’ve worked a register before, you can learn it again. Japan is known for their excellent customer service. Sign up and give it a shot. Even if it’s not for you, the social skills you learn can be very beneficial to you later on. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about Japanese business culture, as well as keigo, and the relationships and dynamics between Japanese businesses and their customers in Japan.
When looking for jobs in Japan besides teaching English, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your job won’t require English. If your capable of at least Japanese and English conversation, then working the front desk at a hotel might be something you’re interested in.
Like most jobs in Japan that aren’t typical office positions, you can expect to work on the weekends. But if that’s something you are okay with, then you’ll be sure to reap the benefits when enjoying those sweet hotel perks.
If you’re one for travel and find yourself itching to get on your next big adventure, having discounted hotel rates and waived fees is hard to look away from. This can be a double-edged sword though. Do you really want to stay at a hotel with all your coworkers lurking around the corner? Just make sure to clean your room thoroughly before checkout.
It doesn’t have to be a dream job. So long as your visa allows you to do the work, you can find loads of auditions all over Japan from commercials to music videos to movies and TV shows. The problem is finding out about these auditions. Your best bet is signing up with a foreign talent agency. Before you get ahead of yourself though, you should probably know how the process works.
Foreign talent agencies get paid millions of yen, for providing an actor who signs up for a role. Actors on the other hand tend to get paid as little as 5,000 yen, or as much as 30,000 yen. Unless you’re already a celebrity in Japan, don’t expect to be making bank. But everybody starts somewhere. Just make sure you work with a reputable company.
Video Game QA Tester
Want to get paid to play video games? This is another job which will require Japanese fluency, as video games in Japan are obviously made for Japanese people. If your kanji game is up to par, then pick up the controller and get to work. QA testers get to demo video games before they are released to the public, checking for bugs and other in-game errors and reporting back to the development team.
The majority of jobs hiring video game QA testers in Japan are actually for cell phone apps. Many of which, but not all, have adult content. If you’re comfortable with that, and can handle hours and hours of gameplay, even of games you would never ever play otherwise, then maybe give it a whirl.
Working for a video game company in Japan can have perks like remote work from home, free snacks at the office, and sometimes free merchandise too. If you’re looking for a way to get into the video game industry, it can’t hurt.
Izakaya & Bar Staff
There are plenty of Japanese bars, restaurants, and izakaya trying to stand out among the densely populated streets of the city. That goes double for the little guy. Every mom and pop shack needs their gimmick. And sometimes that gimmick is you. After all, why go out for Italian when you can be served pasta by a real Italian. Or at least act Italian, they might say. Anything to bring in more customers.
Having a foreign waiter or bartender can be seen as a novelty, especially in more rural areas. And while you may be looking for jobs in Japan besides teaching English, don’t be surprised if you end up doing that anyway. Because Yoko wants a conversation partner, and she gets to talk with you all night at the cost of just one beer. Too bad no drinking for you, but hey, at least you’re getting paid, right?
It’s a dirty job and you don’t have to do it. Really. You could just walk away right now. But, if you just can’t help yourself… remember, the world of headhunting is cold and cruel. You thought it was hard finding yourself a job? Try finding everyone you know a job.
You gotta crunch those numbers and plug those candidates. It’s not a job for everyone, but if you can do it, the yen will roll in your favor. If you have thick skin, are great with interviewing and networking, and have a passion for pitching clients, maybe you just might have a chance. But you can count me out.
Freelancer / Business Owner
I know we’ve already gone through the whole list, but I couldn’t not tack this one on at the end. It’s just that so many people come to Japan expecting to do one thing and find themselves doing something completely different. Whatever job you come here to do, don’t be afraid to pick up new hobbies, learn new skills, and develop beneficial habits along the way.
It may start with you snapping pictures at Japanese weddings, but one day you could be the number one photographer on everybody’s speed dial. Take a chance and start a business. Even if you fail, the knowledge you learn will help you to one day succeed.
The above are just a few options you’ll have, but if you put your head to it, you can probably think of a lot more. When looking for jobs in Japan besides teaching English, consider what experience you already have and try to figure out how you can apply it. You’ll need to stand out among Japanese citizens applying for the same job, so it helps to have an edge. Consider past work (or volunteer) experience when job hunting, and you may be surprised to find similar jobs welcoming to foreigners. You never know where you’ll be working in a year from now, so put that free time to good use.