a diverse group of foreign professionals in Japan

Beyond ESL: 12 Jobs in Japan Not Teaching English (For Foreigners!)

Are you considering a move to Japan but worried about your limited Japanese language skills? Fear not, as there are plenty of career opportunities for English speakers in various industries beyond teaching.

With a shortage of IT professionals predicted in the near future, tech-related jobs offer high salaries and opportunities for advancement. Additionally, there are jobs in real estate, hospitality, design, and more that require English fluency.

In this article, we will explore 12 English-speaking careers in Japan that offer a range of opportunities for those who want to go beyond teaching English in the land of the golden sun

Key Takeaways

  • There are several career options for English-speaking individuals in Japan beyond teaching English.
  • The IT industry in Japan is facing a shortage of 600,000 IT-related professionals by 2030, and all companies require web designers, developers, and IT professionals.
  • Basic-to-intermediate speaking skills in Japanese are necessary for comfortable living in Japan, and learning conversational-level Japanese can widen job opportunities and lead to promotions.
  • Real estate jobs provide multilingual support, and top salespeople in the industry can earn up to 20 million JPY as compensation.

Non-English Teaching Jobs in Japan

Suppose you’re interested in jobs besides teaching English in Japan. In that case, it’s important to know that basic-to-intermediate speaking skills in Japanese are necessary for comfortable living in hospitality and customer service.

Hospitality jobs are available in urban centers and famous holiday destinations and require excellent communication skills. Whether working at a hotel or a restaurant, you must communicate with customers and colleagues in Japanese to ensure a pleasant experience.

Recruitment agencies can help match you with mid-career or C-level professionals if you’re looking for specialized positions in top companies. These agencies can provide job opportunities in various fields, including IT, real estate, and consulting.

They’ll also assist you with the application process and support visa applications. With the help of recruitment agencies, you can find a job that fits your skill set and interests without navigating the job market alone.

IT Industry Opportunities

You can explore opportunities in the IT industry in Japan, as there’s a shortage of 600,000 IT-related professionals by 2030. Many companies are hiring tech engineers from overseas, so there are ample opportunities for foreigners with the necessary skills to find work in this field.

Additionally, the Japanese language requirements are relatively low, meaning that English-speaking professionals can succeed in this industry without necessarily having to master the language.

If you’re considering a career in the IT industry in Japan, it’s worth noting that the average salary for software engineers is 8.5 million yen per year. This is a highly competitive salary, and many lucrative opportunities are available for those with relevant experience and qualifications.

Furthermore, only a third of software engineers in Japan can speak Japanese fluently, which means that there’s a significant demand for English-speaking professionals who can fill the gap.

Overall, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in the IT industry in Japan, many opportunities are available. With the right skills and experience, you can achieve great success.

Language Learning Benefits for Jobs in Japan Not Teaching English

Learning conversational-level Japanese can significantly expand your job opportunities and lead to promotions or attractive job offers in various fields in Japan. While some job positions in Japan may not require proficiency in Japanese, knowing the language can give you a competitive edge and open doors to better career prospects.

Additionally, communicating effectively with Japanese colleagues and clients can help you build stronger relationships and improve your overall work experience.

To further illustrate the benefits of learning Japanese, here is a table showing the average salary range for different job positions in Japan based on language proficiency:

Job PositionBasic JapaneseConversational JapaneseFluent Japanese
IT Engineer6-7 million yen/year8-9 million yen/year10+ million yen/year
Customer Service2-3 million yen/year3-4 million yen/year4-5 million yen/year
Hospitality2-3 million yen/year3-4 million yen/year4-5 million yen/year
Sales4-5 million yen/year5-6 million yen/year6-7 million yen/year
Marketing4-5 million yen/year5-6 million yen/year6-7 million yen/year

As you can see, having conversational or fluent Japanese skills can significantly increase your earning potential in various industries – and offer better salaries than teaching English can. In addition to higher wages, learning the language can help expats better navigate daily life in Japan, from ordering food at restaurants to making new friends.

Many language courses and resources in Japan, such as Coto Academy and language exchange programs, can help you improve your Japanese skills and reap the benefits of increased job opportunities and cultural immersion.

Jobs requiring no or low Japanese proficiency

These jobs mostly require a strong command of the English language and can cater to international audiences or businesses. Hence they do not require high levels of Japanese.

  • Recruiter or Consultant: Working for international consulting firms, your main clientele will most likely be bilingual. English proficiency is more important in this role.
  • Startup Founder or Employee: If you’re starting your own company or working for a startup that operates primarily in English, Japanese language skills may not be necessary. However, understanding the local market and culture will be beneficial.
  • Programmer or IT/Tech Engineer: As Japan faces an IT shortage, companies are more willing to hire foreigners who may not speak Japanese. Working in tech often requires specific skill sets in high demand, and communication in these roles can usually be conducted in English.
  • Tour Guide for Non-Japanese Tourists: Tour guides for non-Japanese tourists facilitate the exploration of Japan’s rich cultural and historical sites. While the primary language of communication is typically English or another foreign language, basic Japanese proficiency can be beneficial for interactions with local staff, navigating logistics like transportation, and enhancing the overall depth of the tour experience.
  • Eikaiwa Teacher: An Eikaiwa teacher instructs English at a private language school in Japan, catering to students ranging from children to adults. These teachers require strong English skills and a teaching mindset. Japanese language skills are usually not necessary, as the aim is to create an immersive English-speaking environment.

Jobs requiring intermediate Japanese proficiency

These jobs might need a decent understanding of Japanese as they often involve direct interaction with local clients or customers.

  • Real Estate Agent: Real estate agents catering to foreign clients may still need Japanese language proficiency to interact with local property owners and handle paperwork, often in Japanese.
  • Customer Service Positions: While some roles may be primarily in English, having Japanese proficiency will allow you to cater to a wider customer base.
  • Hospitality Jobs: Working in hotels or travel destinations and interacting with local customers or suppliers may require a good understanding of Japanese.
  • Convenience Store Worker: This role involves handling cash transactions, customer service, and store maintenance in one of Japan’s ubiquitous “konbini.” A moderate level of Japanese is needed to interact with customers and manage daily tasks, making it an ideal job for foreigners seeking to improve their language skills and gain insight into Japan’s customer service culture.

Jobs requiring advanced Japanese proficiency

These jobs are more likely to require a high level of Japanese proficiency as they involve in-depth interaction with Japanese-speaking clients or require an understanding of Japanese culture and society.

  • Private School or University Teacher: Aside from teaching English, if you aim to teach other subjects at private schools or universities, advanced Japanese proficiency would be required to communicate effectively with students, parents, and other staff members. The only exception would be if the university teaches only in English.
  • Graphic, Product, or Creative Designer: While your portfolio is crucial, communication with clients or team members might require advanced Japanese skills.
  • Study Abroad Staff: If you’re helping students apply for schools and visas or providing support like helping them find apartments, advanced knowledge of Japanese can be necessary to navigate through the local education and housing systems.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the visa requirements for working in Japan in fields other than teaching English?

You need a visa that matches your job description to work in non-teaching jobs in Japan. Remote work opportunities are available in the IT industry, and some companies hire tech engineers from overseas. Obtain a visa and start your journey to freedom.

Are there opportunities for remote work in the IT industry in Japan?

Startup and unicorn companies are hiring tech engineers from overseas with low Japanese language requirements. The average salary for software engineers is 8.5 million yen per year.

What are the typical work hours and vacation time for jobs in the hospitality industry in Japan?

If you’re considering a job in the hospitality industry in Japan, expect long work hours and limited vacation time. Salary expectations vary based on experience, and cultural differences can impact workplace dynamics.

How can networking and building connections help in finding job opportunities in Japan?

Building connections and using job search techniques can greatly increase your chances of finding job opportunities in Japan. Attend networking events, join online communities, and reach out to recruiters to expand your network and gain access to hidden job openings.

Are any government-sponsored language courses or programs available for foreigners looking to improve their Japanese language skills?

If you’re looking to improve your Japanese language skills, there are government-sponsored language courses and language proficiency programs available. These programs can help you achieve fluency and increase your job opportunities in Japan.