8 Recommended Jobs for English Speakers in Japan!

8 Recommended Jobs for English Speakers in Japan!

Employment trends in Japan tend to be very fluid, and the future of the Japan job market is increasingly uncertain given the anticipated shortage of skilled labour that’s likely to arise as the population ages. Of course, it’s not so long ago that foreigners coming to find jobs in Japan were almost guaranteed to find something appropriate to their qualifications and experience, etc., that would provide for a comfortable existence and allow sufficient time to pursue other cultural or travel interests, but the situation today is less favorable.



 

8 Recommended Jobs for English Speakers in Japan!

 

1. Private Sector EFL Teaching

In the 1980s and 90s, teaching English was a generally well-paid job in Japan, but a downturn in private sector business led to a large number of school closures and some high-profile bankruptcies. There is still a private sector TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) market in Japan, but it no longer attracts as many qualified EFL instructors due to poor rates of pay, uncertain working hours and the sometimes fly-by-night nature of schools.

 

2. JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching)

The JET Program is an internationalization initiative of the Japanese government, recruiting young college graduates, mainly from the USA, to work for local education boards, 90% as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) in primary and junior schools. However, ALTs typically lack formal TEFL qualifications so are seen by many as part of the wider problems afflicting mandatory English education in Japan. JET pay is not great, and conditions vary, but it can provide a short term experience of Japanese life, language and culture.

 

3. Foreign Companies

Obviously, there are many foreign companies operating in Japan that may, at least seasonally or irregularly, employ English speaking staff, though Japanese skills can also be required. Probably the best positions are filled through overseas recruitment and transfers, but work in fields as diverse as sales, investment banking and IT, as well as EFL, is regularly offered through the classifieds section of Monday’s Japan Times.

 

4. Speak Japanese

Though there are still jobs in Japan suitable for English speakers, the fact of being an English speaker, native or otherwise, carries less weight than it used to. In fact, you’re more likely to find a gainful job through Japanese ability than with your native tongue! From office work to construction, banking to publishing, jobs in Japan do exist IF applicants have sufficient Japanese ability to communicate within the company, and can adapt to Japanese working practices and pay.

 

5. Japanese Companies

With that last point in mind, I know how hard it is to find Japanese staff with good English and personal skills (a symptom of the Japanese education system) in Japan. Some companies would like to hire native English speakers for these posts, but unless they can fully commit to the job, its pay and conditions, it might be counter-productive. Be that as it may, many former EFL teachers with a personal investment in Japan now work in Japanese company offices, and many prominent Japanese companies actively seek the expertise of foreign professionals.

 

6. Engineering and IT

There are a lot of jobs in Japan for skilled engineers, and this is likely to increase. Major employers in the automotive, heavy engineering industries and computer software developers, for example, are far less likely to ‘offshore’ their operations to other countries than smaller manufacturers or developers.

 

7. Recruitment Agencies

Many former EFL teachers have gravitated to foreign recruitment companies in Tokyo who supply foreign professionals to both foreign and Japanese companies. These so-called ‘head-hunters’ work on commission and can make a lot of money in a good year. As with many jobs in Japan, recruiting usually attracts people who already live here and who want, or are forced into, a career change.

 

8. The Service Industry

Japan has many foreign workers with no professional skill set or qualifications, whilst some people who’ve been forced to leave their preferred careers, subsequently find it difficult to get a new job and will take anything as a stop-gap. But for those with formal Japanese ability (keigo), the service industry has been a major source of jobs in Japan, many at restaurants, fast food outlets, or ski resorts, etc. However, certain work visa restrictions make this kind of work more suitable for people with spouse visas.

 

Conclusion

Having a job in Japan can be immensely rewarding – it can also be frustrating. But you wouldn’t be alone in that respect as we Japanese can be just as affected by long hours, poor pay and the occasional abuses by employers. The difference is we’re born and educated into the system. Perhaps this is why the most successful foreign workers in Japan are those who have a personal investment in the culture and lifestyle, and who expand their prospects by learning Japanese. The best advice I can give is for English speakers to take whatever work is available, to get one’s foot in the door, so to speak, and use this as a springboard into a more suitable long term job option. Good luck!

 

8 Recommended Jobs for English Speakers in Japan!

1. Private Sector EFL Teaching
2. JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching)
3. Foreign Companies
4. Speak Japanese
5. Japanese Companies
6. Engineering and IT
7. Recruitment Agencies
8. The Service Industry