Ultimate Guide to Coding Bootcamps & Landing an IT Job in Tokyo

By Tokyo Stack | May 19, 2021

This article was written by  the team at Tokyo Stack - a coding/tech school dedicated to advancing careers and businesses in Japan via bootcamps, corporate training, and certification services. This article is one in our extensive series of guides on getting a job in Japan and how to develop your career.

Want to live in Japan but aren’t interested in being an English teacher, why not try switching to a career in IT?

Want to start developing your future career prospects and make more than 5 million yen a year without having to spend 4 years learning Japanese? Feeling stuck in your English teaching job? Why not consider switching to a career in IT?

Here is our ultimate guide to choosing the best coding bootcamp in Tokyo. If you are interested in boosting your tech skills and setting yourself up for a promising career in Japan, this guide will cover the ins and outs of the most popular coding bootcamps and resources in Tokyo to jumpstart your career.

This guide will primarily discuss English coding bootcamps located in Tokyo. But don’t worry if you’re not in Japan—you can still apply (and in some cases attend) from abroad! We will also briefly discuss self-taught online courses.

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    coding-bootcamps-switch-to-IT

    Why Switch to an IT Career

    There are many reasons to be a software developer. It is financially stable, can be obtained without a university degree, does not necessarily require Japanese skills, and will open the path for you to find a future that you like (or at least don’t hate).

    Stability

    We define stability as two things: industry stability and financial stability. IT jobs excel in both. In terms of industry stability, software development and related IT jobs are increasing in demand all around the world. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated a 22% growth in software developer jobs from 2019-2029—compared to the national average of 4% for all other industries! Similarly, based on a 2018 survey by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan already has 300,000 unfilled IT developer positions on the market, which will continue to skyrocket to 790,000 by 2030. The prevalence of developer jobs and the ability to work remotely as long as you have a computer and a reliable internet connection means that it is a safe career choice that can be easily transferred to most countries.

    The light blue bars represent the number of filled IT jobs, with the dark blue section represents the number of unfulfilled IT jobs. The dotted lines represent different growth estimations, with the “medium growth scenario” of 2-5% being used to estimate the number of future unfulfilled IT jobs.

    coding-bootcamps-IT-jobs

    The light blue bars represent the number of filled IT jobs, with the dark blue section represents the number of unfulfilled IT jobs. The dotted lines represent different growth estimations, with the “medium growth scenario” of 2-5% being used to estimate the number of future unfulfilled IT jobs. Source: https://www.meti.go.jp/policy/it_policy/jinzai/houkokusyo.pdf (p. 46)

    In terms of financial stability, the IT industry has one of the highest average salaries, according to Japanese job site doda. Entry-level software developer positions in Japan have an average annual salary of 4-7 million yen, while mid-level developers (5 years of experience) earn from 6-12 million yen (japandev). Compare this to the average starting salary of around 3 million yen.

    Of course, there are many factors that contribute to your salary, such as the industry and size of the company, with big international companies paying more. More specialized roles will also usually pay more. As an example, according to GaijinPot, IT consultants make an average of ¥6 million yen per year, while web designers averaged around ¥3.6 million yen.

    Don’t Need a University Education

    Programming is one of the few careers that do not necessarily require a university degree in a related subject, as long as you have a portfolio to prove that you have the skills and experience. That is why it is often the go-to solution for many English teachers in Japan to switch careers. While there are still old-fashioned companies in Japan that still seek applicants with a STEM degree, the majority of companies are satisfied with someone who can get the job done. Most if not all of the coding bootcamps listed in this article will help you build a portfolio that you can show off to interviewers. 

    Japanese Not Necessary

    While being able to speak and read Japanese definitely helps expand your job options, it doesn’t really matter too much for developers. Since developers are internal positions, they don’t need to present themselves to external clients and partners as a perfect, Keigo-speaking, uber-polite Japanese salesperson. Oftentimes, as long as you can communicate with the team and write good code, you’re good to go. If the company is an international company or aiming to be an international company, the official company language might be English—so you might not even need basic Japanese!

    Diverse Opportunities

    You don’t need to be in love with coding (at first), because programming is a lot more than just typing words on a screen. Programming is about solving problems—and so (almost) every industry utilizes developers in some shape or form. Not only are there many different aspects and specializations of IT— such as mobile Android/iOS development, data science, AWS, etc.—but there are also a lot of industries and projects to choose from. Not only do you have the option to work for big tech companies like Google, Mercari, or Rakuten and stable industries like manufacturers or banks, you can also work for companies and ideas that you’re passionate about, like making sustainability solutions, creating games, analyzing life-changing data, or building futuristic products. Programming isn’t the goal; it is merely the means. So you don’t need to be passionate about programming itself—instead, be passionate about how you can use programming to do the things you’re passionate about.

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    How to Land an IT Job in Japan

    To get an IT job in Japan, you need to do two main things: (1) learn how to program and (2) find a company that will hire you. We’re not going to lie—both are hard.

    Additionally, it would be better if you could also speak some Japanese, in order to be able to also apply to Japanese-speaking companies and get along with your future Japanese co-workers. It is also probably safe to presume that being present in Japan (at least for the interview) is a prerequisite, since all things equal, most companies would prefer to look domestically before spending the additional hassle to bring a stranger in from overseas.

    Fortunately, there are many resources that can help you do this. The two main methods are:

    1. Join a coding bootcamp in Japan and also apply for jobs while in Japan
    2. Self-learn programming skills and then find a job as described below

    While self-learning programming is a convenient, popular, and affordable method, unfortunately, many companies in Japan will still be averse to hiring you unless you are already in Japan. If you still decide to go this route and are not already in Japan, here are some ways you can find a job from abroad:

    1. Apply for jobs from overseas (Boston Japan Career Forum)

    https://jobs.bfftokyo.com/jobsys/ultimate-guide-to-job-fairs-in-tokyo/

    1. Apply for companies with a Japan branch and try to get internally transferred
    2. Come to Japan on a Tourist Visa to apply for jobs in person

    https://www.bfftokyo.com/ultimate-guide-for-a-japan-visa/

    1. Come to Japan for Japanese Language School to apply for jobs

    https://learnjapanese.bfftokyo.com/guide-to-japanese-language-schools/

    1. Come to Japan for a Coding School to learn new skills and also apply for jobs

    However, since this information could be an article in itself, in this article we will focus on coding boot camps—the easiest way to check all the marks.

    coding-bootcamps-why

    Why Coding Bootcamps?

    Coding bootcamps are intensive full-time courses that will teach you the skills to become an IT professional in only a few weeks. Coding bootcamps provide several resources that self-taught online courses cannot provide, such as an attentive teacher, real challenges, experience coding with others, a motivational community, and job support. Whether you’re a complete newbie to coding or know the basics but want to specialize, there are a variety of coding bootcamps designed to suit your goals. 

    The advantages of coding bootcamps over other learning resources are:

    • Time-efficiency
      Coding bootcamps are for those who are serious about switching to a career in tech as soon as possible. You will commit and immerse yourself into programming for several months, and in return you will gain the necessary skills to switch careers quicker than any other way.
    • Motivation and accountability
      Coding bootcamps give you motivation. Firstly, the teachers are all committed to your success. Secondly, keeping up with your peers can push you to keep up. And thirdly, although bootcamps are expensive, making that investment will make you more committed to finishing.
    • Supportive community
      The environment is curated for programming. You will improve and succeed via the supportive community, including peers who are going through the experience with you and an experienced instructor who can help you when you’re stuck.
    • Advanced learning and challenges
      Online courses are actually pretty great at teaching the basics, up to functions and classes. However, after that, there are few courses that can fill in the gap to create production-ready applications. Similarly, the challenges given are usually pretty elementary, only testing the course material. On the other hand, coding bootcamps will challenge you beyond what you learned. You’ll be able to get custom help from teachers and mentors, and you’ll learn to troubleshoot issues and expose yourself to new APIs, libraries, and applications.
    • Networking with like-minded people
      The coding schools often hold events that are open to the public, including demo day where you show off your final project. People who are interested in technology and finding new talents will attend, so even if you’re not looking for a job, you might meet friends, co-founders, potential investors, and future employers.
    • Job hunting support
      Lastly, since most students usually attend coding bootcamps to get a job, there will often be some sort of support for job hunting, ranging from job advice to providing networking opportunities with hiring tech companies. And as a bonus, by having the visa to stay in Japan during the program, you are able to job hunt and network in person, which drastically increases your chances of landing a job compared to applying from overseas (which most companies in Japan are averse to).

    However, there are also a few cons:

    • Large time commitment
      While you don’t need to go back to university to get a degree to be a programmer, you still need to learn a lot of the same stuff. This means you’ll be attending school full-time for several months. While there are also part-time programs, if your goal is to switch careers, we’d recommend attending full-time to accomplish your goal faster.
    • Expensive
      Coding bootcamps are definitely a huge investment for your future, so make sure you are ready to commit the time, money, and effort. While the upfront cost can be around 100,000 yen, the investment will pay for itself within a few months once you land your first job as a developer. 

    If you’re not ready for the investment though, make sure you check out some of the lighter educational resources listed at the end of this article.

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    Important Factors for Coding Bootcamps

    If you’re sure you want to attend a coding camp, make sure you choose the best program for your interests and career goals. Here are some factors that you should take into consideration before deciding.

    • Programming Languages
      There are many computer languages, some of the most popular being Javascript, Python, and Java. Not all schools will teach all languages, and not all languages are suitable for all IT jobs. Make sure you do some research about what kind of job you are interested in and what kind of programming languages are typical for that profession.
    • Tuition
      Tuition is usually on par with a year’s worth of university tuition. Coding bootcamps aren’t cheap, but it is an investment that can bring you greater wealth in the future. With that said, sure that you choose a boot camp whose services are worth the cost.
    • Time
      Coding bootcamps can range from several hours part-time over months, or full-time over several weeks. If you are overseas, then it would be in your best interest to attend a full-time bootcamp to get a job in Japan (and visa) faster; but if you are already working a full-time job in Japan, you might be unable to quit your job suddenly. For such people, there are now many part-time programs so that full-time workers can still attend the courses while maintaining a stable income. Keep in mind though that this will increase the time of participation from a few weeks to many months.
    • Community
      One of the best things about coding bootcamps is the supportive community that comes with it. You will have a small cohort of peers at a similar skill level with similar goals as you, going through the challenge together. This creates comradery between your peers and motivation to succeed with everyone.
    • Job support
      Arguably, the most important factor in a coding bootcamp is support for finding a job. There are some bootcamps that provide you with all the skills and hope your skills do the speaking, and there are some that nurture close relationships with tech companies or recruitment companies to make the job search process more stress-free. This can be important, especially if you are unconfident about meeting the Japanese language requirement for many companies, as English-only companies may be difficult to find on your own.

    If you are coming from abroad to start a new life in Japan, you should also pay attention to the following factors: 

    • Visa Support
      If you are overseas looking to find a job in Japan, you will need a visa to enter Japan. Make sure that your desired coding school offers visa application support so you can attend the program, and hopefully a bit of time for you to job hunt!
    • Japanese Language & Culture Support As a foreigner, moving to a new country is daunting. If you’re looking to start a new life in a new country, hopefully, that program will offer Japanese language and culture support for adjusting to your new life in Japan, and your upcoming career in a Japanese-speaking company. In some cases, the coding bootcamp might even partner with a Japanese language school to offer Japanese language classes with the program or at a discount!

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    Coding Schools in Japan

    Here is a list of some of the English-speaking coding schools in Japan. They all teach different programming languages and offer slightly different support. We have summarized them in the table below.

     

    Tokyo Stack

    Code Chrysalis

    Le Wagon

    Programming Languages

    Java, Python

    Javascript only

    Python, Ruby

    Courses

    Basics, Software Development (Full-stack, Front-end, or Back-end), Data Science, AI, Blockchain

    Basics, Full-Stack

    Web Development, Data Science

    Part-Time

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Price

    92,000 yen ~ 1,380,000 yen

    99,000 yen ~ 1,320,000 yen

    790,000 ~ 850,000 yen

    Visa Support

    Yes

    Yes

    No

    Job Support

    Career guidance, included internships, network of recruiters and tech companies

    Career guidance

    Career guidance, network of  recruiters and tech companies

    Culture Support

    Japanese language class packages

    None

    None

     

    Tokyo Stack

    Tokyo Stack is a relatively new coding bootcamp that specializes in all-inclusive packages for getting a specialized tech job in Japan. Tokyo Stack is different from other code bootcamps because they also partner with many language schools and tech companies to additionally provide Japanese language classes and internships with their offerings. If your ultimate goal is to get a job in Japan, learning Japanese (preferably JLPT N2 for most companies, but at least JLPT N4) will be beneficial for both living and working in Japan. Tokyo Stack also tries to work with local tech startups and other companies needing tech solutions so that students can get experience working on projects that matter.

    Tokyo Stack offerings primarily focus on Python, with the exception of Java for the Software Developer Career Track. This is due to Python being one of the easiest languages to learn, yet also being the standard programming language for high-level data analysis processes such as data science and machine learning. However, the Software Developer Career Track is offered in Java due to the demand for Java engineers by companies. Even though Java hasn’t been in the spotlight as much as other trending languages like Python, it is still the most widely-used language and considered as “the” programming language to master.

    Programming Language(s): Python, Java

    Programming Courses:

    • Programming Fundamentals
    • Software Developer Career Track
      • Front-End Developer
      • Back-End Developer
      • Full-Stack Developer
    • Artificial Intelligence Career Track
    • Data Science Career Track
    • Blockchain Career Track

    Tuition: 92,000 yen ~ 1,380,000 yen (scholarships and rebates available)

    Japanese Language/Culture Support: Inclusive packages and/or discounts for language classes at partnering Japanese language schools

    Job Support: Internships, career consultation, resume help, salary negotiation, relationships with hiring tech companies and recruiting agencies, and more

    Immigration Support: Provides supporting documents for getting a visa in your own country, advice for suitable housing, daily life support and assistance

    Pros:

    • Many specialized in-demand career path options 
    • Options to be a full-stack software developer, or just specialize in front-end or back-end
    • Additional Japanese language/culture resources
    • Support with getting an internship at a local startup during the course

    Cons:

    • A bit on the expensive side
    • Less established

    Code Chrysalis

    Code Chrysalis is one of the most well-known English coding schools in Tokyo, especially due to the many tech-related meetups that they host. Code Chrysalis is dedicated to mastering the most flexible programming language, JavaScript. Code Chrysalis’s staple Software Engineering Track transforms you from an intermediate JavaScript programmer to a master full-stack JavaScript developer. By mastering JavaScript alone, you can become a full-stack developer—an expert in both front-end and back-end development.

    Programming Language(s): JavaScript

    Programming Courses:

    • Intro to Programming
    • Software Engineering Track

    Tuition: 99,000 yen ~ 1,320,000 yen (scholarships available for single mothers)

    Japanese Language/Culture Support: None/Unknown

    Job Support: Career coaches, resume help, salary negotiation, and more

    Immigration Support: provides supporting documents for getting a visa in your own country, advice for suitable housing

    Pros:

    • Utilizes pair programming, which encourages efficient learning and develops interpersonal skills
    • Teaches you to become a full-stack developer, which gives you the skills to allow you to do both front-end and back-end development roles
    • Many meetups for networking with other coders

    Cons:

    • JavaScript only
    • No Japanese language education support
    • No Japanese culture activities

    Le Wagon

    Le Wagon is an international coding school for startups, creative people, and entrepreneurs. On top of the Tokyo locations, it hosts bootcamps in London, Berlin, and 43 other cities in 25 different countries. Le Wagon also hosts many programming and networking meetups weekly for learning new skills.

    Le Wagon teaches two main courses: Web Development and Data Science, both offered on a full-time or part-time basis. Web Development primarily uses Ruby, the most popular language of web applications and known for being simple and general-purpose. Meanwhile, the Data Science course focuses on Python due to the extensive packages and libraries like Pandas and NumPy dedicated to data analysis.

    While Le Wagon markets itself as a coding school for innovative people, they also offer help with job hunting at the end of the bootcamp. However, since the full-time courses only require a 90-day tourist visa, it might be a time crunch to get a job before your visa expires.

    Programming Language(s): Ruby, Python

    Programming Courses:

    • Web Development
    • Data Science

    Tuition: 790,000 ~ 850,000 yen

    Japanese Language/Culture Support: None

    Job Support: 10th optional week focused on preparing for job searching, helps connect graduates with a network of over 50 startups and recruiting agencies

    Immigration Support: none (can use a 90-day tourist visa for full-time)

    Pros:

    • Most affordable bootcamp
    • Many meetups for learning new technology
    • Internationally acclaimed

    Cons:

    • No visa support (short 90-day tourist visa)
    • No Japanese culture support

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    Self-Taught Online Coding Resources

    If you’re unsure if you are ready to take the leap to join a coding bootcamp, you can still learn to code on your own. Here are some of the benefits and challenges associated with self-taught courses.

    Benefits:

    • Affordable
    • Self-paced
    • Convenient
    • (Depending on the resource) Easy to understand or well-structured

    Challenges:

    • Motivation to continue consistently
    • No accountability to continue
    • Usually only provides the fundamentals
    • Insufficient exercises/challenges to build your own skills
    • No or limited community
    • Hard to comprehend the finish line
    • No job search support
    • Difficult to get a job in Japan without flying to Japan

    If you’re on a budget, stretched for time, or simply interested in learning coding as a hobby, online courses are great. There are some amazing online resources, with many tutorials being interactive and easy to follow along, and many forums for troubleshooting almost any kind of problem. If you utilize a course like Coursera or Udemy, the lessons are structured in a way that makes it easy to track your progress and pace yourself.

    However, since everything is self-paced, it is easy to lose focus and fall behind. There is also no one to enforce doing the exercises, no immersive community to retain your interest, and no consequences if you give up, so many people either give up or fail to acquire the skills or confidence necessary for landing an IT job. Usually, those with dedication can land a job after a year or so of dedicated study.

    Furthermore, many courses only give a decent foundation to the programming language, but they often barely scratch the surface in terms of providing practical experience dealing with real business applications. It can be hard to get a true understanding of how to apply the knowledge in a real working environment. And of course, there is zero job search support, and those looking for a job in Japan will likely still need to deal with the hurdle of actually being in Japan to land an interview.

    We’ve compiled some of the most popular resources below.

    • Freecodecamp: Free, interactive lessons for HTML, CSS, Javascript, Python, and more. A great resource for obtaining the fundamentals.
    • Codeacademy: Free and paid lessons separated by career tracks.
    • Coursera: Free courses (with paid certificates) developed by University professors. There are many specialized and advanced courses, but many also tend to be more theoretical than practical.
    • Udemy: Low-cost courses developed by freelancers for approximately 1400 yen (when on sale, which is often). The courses are often well-structured and easy to code along with the instructor, but usually, only cover the fundamentals.
    • edX: Free online courses provided by Harvard, MIT, and other leading institutions. Similarly, you can try Harvard Online and MIT Open Courseware.

    Finding a Job After the Bootcamp

    While a coding bootcamp like Tokyo Stack will help you with the skills and confidence to be a developer, it is now your job to convince potential employers of the same. Finishing the program does not mean that you will be 100% ensured a job in Japan after graduation—that is based on your efforts during the program and your resume/portfolio afterwards. All of the coding bootcamps listed in this article generally offer some sort of job hunting support, whether that be advice, networking events, interview practice, or internships. If you’re serious about getting a job in Japan, make sure that you take advantage of every opportunity during the program!

    Thankfully, Japan has many job openings—especially for software developers. And furthermore, there are a lot of recruitment agencies that will help make the search for potential, relevant positions a lot easier. Japanese companies and recruiters often maintain a strong relationship where the company will trust the recruiters to bring them high-quality relevant applicants, so that they don’t need to filter applications in-house. In fact, you might find that when you try to apply to jobs on popular job sites, a recruiter replies instead. They do this to find potential employees for their corporate clients—but the real job postings are hidden for only qualified applicants.

    Recruitment agencies get paid by the company that hires you—and so they are 100% free for applicants to use. All you have to do is sign up, talk with your recruiter about what your interests, desired starting wage, and other needs are, and then let the recruiter contact you with potential job openings. While recruitment agencies are definitely not the only way to get a job in Tokyo (especially for startups), they are likely the easiest and most effective way to get intel on high-quality job opportunities and actually get an interview with a company.

    Here is a list of some of the tech-focused, English recruitment agencies in Tokyo (you can use multiple ones, if you don’t mind the emails!):

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, coding bootcamps can be a great way to get a tech job in Japan. Although they can be a huge financial investment and time commitment, they can provide the programming skills, community, motivation, job support and other great resources needed to ensure your future success fast. Make sure that you know if a coding school is right for accomplishing your goals.

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