How to Japan

Job Alternatives to English Teaching in Japan

Love Japan, but don’t want to be an English teacher? The job market in Japan today is filled with all kinds of non-teaching opportunities.

It’s no secret that English teaching jobs in Japan are always in high demand, from the need for English teachers at public high school, to evening English tutoring with Japanese businessmen. While some people come to Japan and actually aspire to be teachers or professors, teaching English is not the only career option you have here.

There are actually many non-teaching job opportunities in Japan that are perfect for career-seekers with English or foreign language skills and a drive to work in the land of the rising sun. Below are five examples of what you can do besides teaching English in Japan.

1. Translation and Interpretation

If you have an excellent command of Japanese and a passion for written and verbal communication between different cultures and languages, you may be considering a job in translation or interpretation.

If you are looking to make this your career in Japan, you will likely want to start your job search at translation and interpretation agencies. In addition, there will be plenty of freelance gigs. In-house translation-related positions are more rare, but if you are persistent you can land a position as a company’s designated translator.

Note that you should have at least JLPT N1 to be considered for most translation positions, and in addition to the JLPT N1 requirement, interpreting usually requires that you have some freelance experience.

2. Editing and Writing

Media companies or news outlets in Japan with non-Japanese audiences often looking for writers, editors, and those who can contribute high-quality content in their native language. These roles may also require a higher level of Japanese ability, such as JLPT N1 or N2, so that you can easily communicate with your Japanese team and clients.

Also, before you apply to your dream position in writing, journalism, or editing, it’s best to be proactive. Contact any media and news outlets you would like to contribute to freelance and try to build up a repertoire. Once you have established relationships and have a network of writers and editors, you can try reaching out about a permanent position if that’s what you want.

3. Computer Programming and Developing in Japan

Engineering, programming, and tech jobs are always in high demand in Japan, at large foreign-based companies, Japanese companies, and startups. It helps to speak Japanese, but with a position like this, your technical skills are more important than your Japanese language ability, so it may not matter if you have business proficiency or not. On the other hand, positions like this will emphasize your skills and prior experience, so make sure you have gotten enough education or self-study in to master the types of programming you would be expected to do.

4. Customer Service

As a bilingual or someone with a high command of Japanese, you will be a valuable asset to the company and customers you help out, whether its through email or via phone. If you love being hospitable and helpful and have a strong command of Japanese, you may want to consider a job in customer support.

Customer service and customer relations positions are in high demand here, and many are at tech-related companies. You can also consider customer service jobs at hotels, cafes, and retail stores––especially those with a large non-Japanese customer base.

5. Make your Passion into a Career

If the typical corporate job lifestyle isn’t for you, why not turn your hobby or interest into a career that pays the bills in Japan? There are plenty of artists, models, chefs, filmmakers, and business owners that have made their livelihood here, either self-employed or under a contract for a managing company.

If you want to be exclusively freelance, getting started will require prior experience, dedication to your goals, and excellent Japanese ability (or at least the help of a business partner or assistant with Japanese skills). It may be harder to network and break into your desired industry than it would be back home, but if you have determination and a desire to work in Japan, it is possible!

You don’t have to teach English in Japan!

Although coming to Japan as an English teacher is a common path for many foreigners in Japan, you don’t have to be tied to teaching, especially if there is something else you would like to try. Whether you are looking to switch career paths in Japan or looking for your first job here, remember that with dedication, hard work, and the right timing, you can do anything you set your mind to.

Originally from California, now living in central Tokyo after the JET Program and wandering around Japan. Trying to experience and learn as much as possible. Passionate about travel, vegan food, and music.

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