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10 Most Popular Jobs for Foreigners in Japan


Andre Benz - Unsplash

Foreigners working in Japan is not uncommon. In fact, there were 2.89 million foreign residents in 2020. They come from numerous professions, from technical workers to business directors. Some areas offer plenty of opportunities for foreigners to work in Japan, such as engineering and teaching. However, there are many other options that you might never consider before but are actually popular for foreigners in Japan.

Take a look at the 10 most popular jobs and find the right opportunity for you!

Software Engineer

As one of the world leaders in technology, software developers are highly demanded in Japan. Japan Times reported the shortage prediction of 789,000 IT engineers in 2030. That is why companies are looking for foreign engineers.

Software engineers are needed to help Japanese companies to expand their business on software or web-based services. The perks from these jobs are that Japanese skill is usually not required, and you can easily apply from abroad. There are also options to do remote work if you cannot come to Japan yet.

Types of software engineers:

  • Front-end

Front-end engineers are responsible for developing the user interface and making it compatible across browsers.

  • Back-end

Back-end engineers deal with the database and the website performance.

  • Full-stack

Full-stack engineers manage both front-end and back-end work.

Robotic Engineer

Japan has always been advanced in its robotic technology. In 2018, according to IFR, they provided 52% of robot supply worldwide. Two out of “The Big 4”, the top four industrial robot companies, are based in Japan. The government is incredibly supportive of robot development and innovations, thus the industry keeps looking for related engineers.

Robotic engineers are responsible to design, integrate, and manage robot systems to perform a function. The Japanese skill requirements vary between companies, but it is best to have a minimum JLPT N3.

A child interacting with a robot (Unsplash/Andy Kelly)

SAP/ERP/CRM Consultant

The system, Application, and Products (SAP), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) consultant are high-demand jobs in Japan. These positions share similar expertise. They work with data to personalize a system or software to fulfill the company’s needs.

SAP/ERP/CRM consultant is crucial for improving business management, whether it's a big company or a brand new start-up. The companies in Japan are looking for foreign consultants to manage their operations, finance, and customer relations. High fluency in English and Japanese is necessary.


Japan prides itself as the third nation with the most patent grants, just below China and the United States. They provide financial support and an encouraging environment for researchers as one of the top science countries. The government actively invites foreign researchers to work in Japanese public research institutes and universities. They offer a high salary, comfortable accommodation, and beneficial support.

Japan value researchers highly

Being a researcher in Japan does not require advanced Japanese skills. Many institutes do their work in English. If the researchers need help in Japanese, the institute staff is always ready to help. However, please mind that Japan pays more attention to hard sciences research, such as engineering and information science, medical science, and natural science.

University Professor

Higher academics in Japan are wide open to foreign nationals. They welcome not only students but also foreign professors. Professors were also invited to Japan to fulfill an international partnership between universities. Most foreign professors teach humanities and social sciences. To be a lecturer, many universities require a doctoral degree. You are also expected to have good fluency in Japanese.

Types of a professor based on rank:

  • Professor

Professor is the highest academic title. Professors are skilled and well-known academics who are generally regarded as experts in their fields. A professor usually teaches upper-level undergraduate and graduate classes.

  • Associate professor

Associate professors are intermediate or mid-level professors who teach classes related to their research. They usually have tenure, a permanent employment guarantee.

  • Assistant professor

Assistant professors are entry-level professors. It takes a couple of years to be promoted to associate professor.

English teacher

It is common for foreigners to teach English in Japan. It usually does not require Japanese skills. Some vacancies do not even require teaching experience as the company is willing to provide training. The government also gives an opportunity as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) to foreigners with no teaching certificate. However, almost everyone can be an English teacher nowadays. Despite numerous opportunities, the salary is not that much.

There are lots of options in this area. If you are good with kids, your choices range from private or public school to cram school. If you prefer to teach adults, you can go to companies and adult programs. There are also options to teach in classes or 1-on-1.

Translator and interpreter

These jobs are for foreigners who possess high fluency in Japanese. As more foreign nationals came to Japan, more translators and interpreters were needed to bridge the language gap.

One of the attempts to accommodate foreigners is to give public services in languages other than Japanese and English. For example, during the Covid-19 vaccination program, the Japanese government provided the document in 16 languages. In some inoculation spots, interpreters are on stand-by.

Interpreters work with oral translation

Translators usually work with written text, while interpreters translate orally. Translation works in Japan ranged from document translation to game localization. Interpreters are mainly needed in global companies. They attend meetings to help everyone communicate. They also work in the medical field to assist foreign patients.

International Sales Representative

Sales jobs are always in demand as the Japanese economy is the third-largest in the world (again, behind the United States and China). Almost every company has a sales and marketing team. A sales representative's job is to sell products to a company, organization, or government institution, instead of directly to consumers.

As many companies expand their businesses globally, international sales representatives are crucial. High proficiency in both Japanese and English is a must. Knowledge of Japanese company manners is also needed.

Retail worker

If you are already in Japan and need a part-time job or extra cash, retail work is the solution. It's easy to find and has a flexible schedule. You can apply to bigger stores in the heart of the city or a convenience store down the street. The working hours as a part-time retail worker with a student visa are limited to 28 hours.

As a retail worker, you will interact with Japanese society on a daily basis. Your Japanese will improve quickly, especially in business Japanese and keigo. However, you need conversational Japanese skills to apply.

Japan is well-known for its outstanding hospitality, also called omotenashi. The worker takes pride in serving customers sincerely and fulfilling their needs. Being a service staff in Japan will be a new and unforgettable experience!


There are many modeling agencies in Japan, and some of them are foreigner-friendly. The registration process is easy, whether you have experience as a model or not. The requirement of Japanese skills are varied, but the higher your fluency, the easier the job for you.

There is no strict standard to be a model in Japan. No minimum height, no maximum weight, no particular facial feature, and so on. The companies usually put their models in a catalog and let the clients choose. If they pick you, they want you for you.

Anyone can be a model in Japan

The first thing to do to become a model is to have a portfolio. It does not have to be extra. Your Instagram account with lots of photos of you is a good start. Try to upload many versions of you: full makeup, bare face, portrait, side profile, full shot, different poses, different hairstyles. If you don’t want to join an agency, you can also be a freelancer.





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