The aging population in Japan is creating a worker shortage in many areas, but even more in the nursing care industry. With a prediction of one in every three Japanese over 65 years old in 2030, nursing homes and professional caregivers are highly in demand.
The Japanese healthcare ministry estimated that the country will need 2.53 million care workers by 2025. To solve the problem, they will need foreign labor. The Japanese government has been inviting foreign nationals to work as caregivers in Japan for over a decade, and they won't stop anytime soon.
What is a caregiver?
A caregiver is someone who regularly looks after people who struggle in daily activities, such as a child, the elderly, the disabled, or sick people. Caregivers can be family members, friends, neighbors, or paid professionals.
Caregiver in Japanese is 介護士 (かいごし kaigoshi) or often shortened 介護 (かいご kaigo). Caregivers usually work in nursing homes where they work shifts and care for multiple people. Some caregivers provide private or home care to tend to one person's needs.
Duties and responsibilities of caregiver:
Feeding and helping the patients to take medicine
Assisting patients with personal hygiene (bathing, toileting, etc.)
Monitoring patient's medical charts and health condition
Reporting incidents and scheduling appointments
Helping patients with mobility
Assisting patients with physical therapy exercises
Doing light household chores
Being a pleasant company
How much is the salary of a caregiver?
Caregivers typically get JPY 120,000 to JPY 185,000 monthly, depending on your qualifications, company, and location. Caregivers with Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) receive the lowest as they usually have little experience and no certificates.
The salary can differ each month. A caregiver's salary consists of the basic wage, night shift, overtime, monthly bonus, transportation fee, and other additions. They will receive much higher pay if they work the night shift often.
Just like any other job, caregivers also receive yearly salary raises. Getting the Certified Caregiver License will increase the salary too. Some companies provide learning allowance and improvement allowances for caregivers.
How to become a caregiver
There are 4 ways of becoming a caregiver in Japan: TITP, SSW, EPA, and Nursing Care visa. Every system has its own application, requirements, and period of stay.
Technical Intern Training Program (TITP)
Technical Intern Training Program (技能実習制度, Ginō Jisshū Seido) is a technical and skill training for foreign nationals from developing countries for up to 5 years in Japan. The program, which was launched in 1993, is managed by Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO).
Technical interns are divided into 3 groups:
Technical intern (i) or 1特定技能 1号 (1st year)
Technical intern (ii) 特定技能 2号 (2nd and 3rd year)
Technical intern (iii) 特定技能 3号 (4th and 5th year)
Technical intern (i) has to reach JLPT N3 in the second year. They also have to pass Technical Intern Training Evaluation Examination, a written test, and a practical test to shift to Technical Intern (ii). To get the Technical Intern (iii) status, they must pass a practical test. The technical interns are required to return to their home country after a maximum of 5 years.
If interns complete 2号 or 3号, they can switch residence status to Specified Skilled Worker in the same field without examination and extend their stay. Permanent employment is also possible if they pass the certified caregiver license examination.
18 years old or older
Japanese skill minimum JLPT N4 (equivalent to J.TEST of Practical Japanese level E or Japanese Language NAT-TEST level 4)
Passed the test and interview
A citizen of partner countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Pakistan, Peru, The Philippines, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam)
As an intern, you have a different workload than a regular full-time worker. Your focus is to attend the training, acquire new and various skills, and pass the evaluations. The company will give you support before and after arriving in Japan.
Specified Skilled Workers (SSW)
Specified Skilled Workers, or 特定技能( Tokutei Ginou), is a relatively new program in Japan. Addressing the rapid worker shortage in some industries, the Japanese government launched a new visa category in 2019 to bring more international human resources to Japan.
The maximum period of stay of specified skilled workers is similar to technical interns, which is 5 years. They also receive support from their company upon arriving in Japan. Getting Care Worker Certification is not demanded, but if they do, they can get permanent employment. However, the most significant difference between TITP and SSW is that SSW requires individuals with specific skills and work experience.
18 years old or older
Have the necessary skills and pass the exam (interns that completed the Technical Intern Training (ii) are exempted)
Have Japanese language proficiency in general (daily life use) and specifically in their expertise area, confirmed by passing the test (interns that completed the Technical Intern Training (ii) are exempted)
Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) program
The Japanese government made an agreement that enabled people from Indonesia, The Philippines, and Vietnam to be licensed care workers in Japan. This program is also known as the Government to Government (G to G) program in Indonesia.
The care workers of the EPA program must take the National Japanese Licensure Exam in their fourth year. They can take the test only once. If they don't pass the test, they must return to their country.
Caregivers that pass the selection process will have language training for 6 months in their home country and 6 months in Japan, except for those who already reach the N2 level. During this period, they live in provided facilities and receive a monthly allowance from JICWELS.
35 years old or younger
Graduated from Indonesian nursing school/tertiary educational institution (minimum 3 years program) and certified as a care worker by the Indonesian government (Indonesia)
Graduated from Filipino nursing school/university (4-year program) and certified as a care worker by the Philippines government (Philippines)
Completed 3 or 4-year nursing program (Vietnam)
Pass the selection process (nursing care skills, aptitude, interview, and Japanese quiz)
Nursing Care visa
Nursing Care status of residence is basically given to care workers who pass the Certified Care Worker qualification. However, this section refers to international students who graduated from Japanese training school and obtained certification after that.
To be a registered caregiver in Japan, you can enroll in a 3 years nursing program (diploma) or 4 years nursing program (bachelor) in any institution in Japan. The students do job-hunting like any other fresh graduate–or in Japan's case, a year before graduation.
The requirement to enter nursing training school:
Completed high school/secondary educational institution
Have JLPT N2, scored 200 points or above in Japanese Language Subject in EJU, or scored 400 points in the Business Japanese Proficiency Test (The language competency can vary to some institutions)
The requirement to get a Nursing Care visa:
Completed nursing training school in Japan
Passed the National Caregiver Certification Examination
Have the Caregiver Registration Certificate from Social Welfare Promotion and National Examination Center
The students that failed to obtain the National Caregiver Certification can't change their visa status. If they can't find a job before their student visa expires, they have to fly back to their home country.
(Read our interview with Widi, a caregiver from Indonesia about Ups and Downs of Working in Japan as Caregiver)
Foreign Care Workers opportunity in Japan
The Japanese government planned to bring 60,000 caregivers in 5 years after the SSW visa was first released. Three years later, they only filled 8.6% of the target or 5,155 caregivers (December 2021). Aside from that, there are 3,064 Nursing visa holders as of June 2021.
Therefore, the opportunity to work as a caregiver in Japan is wide open. You can choose which one out of the 4 paths we mentioned above to start your career. Don't forget to brush up on your Japanese skills because no matter what system you pick, you have to prove your language competency.
Learn specific words and phrases used in Caregiver works here.
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