Guide to IT Jobs in Japan

By Elena Vigani | October 2020

Are you looking for IT jobs in Japan or are you just considering the IT sector for your future career? Whatever your plan is, this guide is the one for you. We want to help you create a solid career in one of the highest demanding sectors of the world. 

This article is a subsection of our ultimate guide to jobs in Japan.

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    IT Industry in Japan

    Japan is the third biggest economy in the world. It is only beaten by the United States and China. Japan’s economy is mainly based on advanced technology. Some of the most important sectors of Japan are Information Technology, Industry and Manufacturing. Japan is known all over the world for its high technological development in several fields, including, for instance, consumer electronics, automobile manufacturing, semiconductor manufacturing, optical fibers, optical media, and copy machines.

    Thanks to its highly technologically developed economy, you can find a lot of IT jobs in Japan, which includes a wide range of activities. IT workers are needed for programming, creating software, developing new cars and new machines, analyzing data and big data, introducing new technologies in companies that have not done it yet, finding technological solutions, providing technological support, and so on. 

    On the one hand, the IT industry in Japan is continuing to grow in our technology-forward world. On the other hand, there is a lack of workers and many positions remain unfulfilled. Currently, there are always 100s of unfulfilled programming jobs on job boards. Evidence shows that by 2030 more than half-a-million positions will need to be filled. This is the reason why today there is an increasing demand for IT jobs in Japan. Japan is trying to fulfill this need by encouraging many individuals from other Asian countries to work in Japanese IT companies. But, whatever your country of origin is, there is always a need for talented developers. 

    Just to show you some data about the weight of IT workers in Japan:

    • On LinkedIn, 59 job offers in the IT sector appeared in the last week;
    • On JobsInJapan, currently, there are 52 IT related job offers available;
    • On WorkInJapan,  there are 47 new IT job offers, which join the other numerous offers already present for a long time.
    IT jobs in Japan

    What companies employ IT workers in Japan

    Considering the increasing weight that technologies have in our life, the easiest answer to the question above is almost every type of company. In the 21st century, if a company wants to stay on the market and be competitive, it should be able to deal with all the new technologies that exist. Thus, it needs someone expert in technology between its human resources.

    For this article, let me divide the most likely options that IT workers have in Japan into 4 types.

    Large Corporations

    As I already said, almost every company offers IT positions in their businesses. This is particularly true for the companies of large size, which work also beyond the national borders and which are already consolidated. Between the major tech companies of Japan figures out:

    On the Japan Dev Company list, you can find a list of tech companies that are foreigner-friendly.

    Startup Companies

    If you are truly hoping to become an expert in the IT sector and create a career in this field, probably you may be the most interested in this one. Startups are newly established companies, founded by a few entrepreneurs to develop and bring to the market new products or services. These businesses are characterized by innovation and innovative technologies. In Japan, there are about 10,000 startups. Thus, there is a great demand for IT workers in these types of companies. Some of the currently leading startups in Japan are:

    • Mercari: it is a 2013 Japanese e-commerce startup, which operates in Japan and the United States;
    • Cookpad: one of the oldest Japanese startups, Cookpad is a food tech company, which manages Japan’s largest recipe sharing service;
    • Connected Robotics: this company creates and develops robots for use in the kitchen to overcome the shortage of workers in the Japanese food industry and to support the growth of Japanese food all over the world.

    If you are considering a position at a startup, check our section on where to find an IT job below.

    Freelancers

    If you are an experienced IT professional, you can look for this opportunity. Freelancers currently have more opportunities than in the past years. Japan, like the rest of the world, likes the flexibility that freelancers can offer and is starting to introduce more job offers like this.

    Types of IT jobs in Japan

    The Information Technology sector includes a wide range of activities that can be classified into different types of jobs. Here’s a list of some of IT jobs in Japan, with their description:

    Software Developer

    There are a lot of programming positions available in Tokyo and this is one of the most demanded IT Jobs in Japan. Companies are constantly looking for foreign programmers to add in their business because they need them to expand their businesses. A software engineer, programmer, or developer works in the field of IT development and research. His or her work consists of giving life, through computer languages, to different types of software. Some specialized programmers concentrate their efforts on a specific phase of software development. Among them, there are:

    • Back-end developer: the back.end developer is the programmer who focuses on the server-side of an application;
    • Front-end developer: the front-end developer is the programmer who takes care of the user interface of a website and its design;
    • Full-stack developer: the full-stack developer is an all-round figure, that deals with every aspect of software development. It does the activities of both the back-end developer and the front-end developer. This worker needs to be fully prepared in the IT sector and it must have many years of experience. Becoming a full-stack developer is difficult due to the wide range of activities he should do. For this reason, often this figure is not present in the company and the common working situation is that of teams, where back-end and front-end developers work together to create the software.

    According to your level of experience, you can find an IT job in Japan as:

    • Senior developer: a senior developer is someone who has the experience and knowledge to work with vaguely defined problems and come up with a reasonable solution autonomously;
    • Junior developer: junior developers tend to require more assistance in terms of breaking down an idea into problems to tackle and in terms of the implementation. Experience can make a difference in choosing the right technical tradeoffs to make and how to craft codes.

    Machine learning developer

    A machine learning developer is an IT expert, whose objective is to use data to train models. Once he or she has created the models, they are used to automate processes like image classification, speech recognition, and market forecasting.

    Data Analyst

    The data analyst is one of the most requested figures due to the increasing importance that data and information have nowadays. A data analyst examines and explains data to obtain useful information for the members of his team and company. Once the information is obtained, members will make business decisions based on it.

    Data Scientist

    Another job related to the IT industry and in particular to the analysis of data is the data scientist. This worker is similar to the previous one, but they differ in the types of information they give. Whereas a data analyst studies known data to give useful information, a data scientist predicts the future based on past patterns. His role involves estimating the unknown.

    Cybersecurity Engineer

    A cybersecurity engineer is an information security professional who does many activities, including the design, development, and implementation of secure network solutions in order to defend against advanced cyber attacks, hacking and persistent threats.

    IT Project Manager

    When you have gained lots of experience, you could become an IT Project Manager. The IT Project Manager takes care of the management of software development projects and the coordination of Information and Communication Technology projects of a company. He or she plans the work and coordinates teams made up of internal figures of the company and external consultants. For this reason, he or she is directly involved in the selection of personnel, assigning tasks, duties, and responsibilities to each part of the group according to skills.

    IT Technicians

    Another area of IT is related to the administration and maintenance of IT systems and networks and technical, software and hardware assistance and support. Most IT Technicians provide assistance and support to the company itself or external customers. Depending on the size of the company, the work of the IT Technician can cover different areas, ranging from network management (telecommunications, internet, and intranet) to database administration, from monitoring the security of IT systems and controlling access to local and extended networks to data backup and recovery (backup and data recovery).

    IT Consultant

    The IT industry also includes the field of consultancy. An IT consultant is a person expert in the field of business information technology, who guides companies about how to use information technology in the best way possible in order to achieve certain business goals or objectives.

    Project-based and freelance positions

    Today in Japan there is also the possibility to do all the jobs mentioned before as a freelancer. A freelance IT worker can provide consultancy on his own, can join companies in order to develop specific software, or can do precise analysis. The relationship between the company and the IT worker finishes once the project ends.

    It Jobs in Japan

    Skills needed for IT jobs in Japan

    There are several skills you should develop if you want to find IT jobs in Japan. These skills include both soft and hard skills. Every type of IT job needs specific skills and knowledge, but there are also common skills used for all these types. As for the soft skills, their need can depend on the culture of the company. Some companies prefer to hire purely autonomous engineers who work solo and only collaborate when they need to connect their work together. Other companies have much more collaborative cultures encouraging mentoring and the exchange of ideas. In these kinds of companies, soft skills are what will distinguish you as someone who can work well in a team and will lead to better opportunities over time.

    Here is a list of some of the main skills every IT worker should have:

    Computer Skills

    This is the leading skill for an IT worker. If you want to make a career in the field of IT in Japan, you must be comfortable with all the new technologies. You must have a deep knowledge of computers and of the most important software used. Developing computer skills, you will be able to use word processing software, manage files, create presentations, access the databases, use spreadsheets, and many other activities.

    Japanese language skills

    Another essential skill you must have is the knowledge of the Japanese language. Even though there are also a lot of opportunities for people who only speak English, gaining knowledge of the Japanese language will give you access to more opportunities and more companies compared to your colleagues without them. Generally, knowledge of the Japanese language is essential for managerial positions in Japanese companies. This type of company needs Japanese speakers to liaison with Japanese staff.

    If you want to learn some useful tips on how to learn Japanese according to your starting level, I suggest you visit the site above.

    Programming Languages

    Every software, which means every program to be run by a computer or machine, is written in a specific programming language. In order to excel in the field of IT, you should learn to code different programming languages. Evidence shows that the programming languages most used in Japan are:

    1. C/C++;
    2. JavaScript;
    3. C#;
    4. Java;
    5. Python.

    Troubleshooting

    Most IT professionals need to be able to solve problems and malfunctions in IT systems: troubleshooting indicates the process of finding the cause of a problem, through analysis and diagnostic tools, until its resolution. When it refers specifically to architecture and software development, this activity is called debugging.

    Communication Skills

    Whatever the IT job you are looking for, you should have developed communication skills. IT workers usually work with several people. They work across many teams and groups or they provide solutions to those people who are not tech-savvy. Moreover, they write a lot of emails, proposals, and design documents to different targets. For this reason, they should have good communication skills, both at the oral and written levels. 

    Creativity

    A good IT worker should be creative. IT workers are constantly looking for new opportunities, new ideas, new developments. This sort of forward-thinking requires a lot of creativity and imagination. 

    Time Management

    This is another important soft skill you must have if you want to find IT jobs in Japan. Respecting timelines is essential in a world that is constantly changing and moving at high speed. IT projects often last a long time and their duration could change along with the project. A good IT worker should be able to understand how long a project could last and be able to respect the timeline decided. 

    Other skills that an IT worker must have are logical thinking, project management skills, presentation skills, negotiation skills, leadership skills, flexibility, and determination.

    IT Jobs in Japan

    Salaries for IT jobs in Japan

    The IT sector is an interesting field also in terms of earnings. Generally, foreign IT workers gain higher incomes compared to their Japanese colleagues. This is particularly true for those who work in foreign companies, especially those backed by venture capital and foreign technology companies. They want the best talents in the world. For this reason, they are willing to pay higher incomes for highly qualified IT professionals and to provide assistance with practical and bureaucratic things, such as visas and relocation.

    However, giving a complete description of how much an IT worker in Japan earns is quite difficult because earnings change according to different things. First of all, the most important factor is the company that you work for. Another important, but not essential, factor is your degree level. If you have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree it could be easier for you to gain higher incomes. Your knowledge about programming languages and the years of experience influence your final income too. Finally, the earnings of the IT sector depends on the company you are applying to, on the type of industry, and on the type of work you do. For instance, a software developer will earn more than an IT technician.

    Here is a list of some IT jobs in Japan with their earning expectations, taking into consideration only the number of years of experience as the main factor of influence:

    Software Engineer

    Generally, a new graduate foreign software engineer could expect to earn 4-5million yen per year. This is what happens at the beginning of his or her career. Mid-career software engineers in Japan are expected to be in the range between 6 and 12 million yer per year. Becoming a senior developer, you will gain 8-15million yen per year. 

    Machine Learning Developer

    A machine learning developer with less than 1 year of experience can earn 3-4million yen per year. After the first year, he or she can expect to gain 5million yen per year. This is what happens between the second and the fourth year of experience. A senior machine learning developer could earn an overall earning of 13million yen per year.

    Data Analyst

    A data analyst with less than 2 years of experience earns 3-4million yen per year. Between the second and the fifth year of experience, he or she is expected to earn 5-6million yen per year. Moving forward, between five and ten years of experience the salary could be 6-7million yen per year. The salary continues to increase proportionally to the increasing number of years. A data analyst with more than 20 years of experience could arrive at 8-9million yen per year. 

    IT Project Manager

    An IT project manager at the beginning of his or her career earns 5-6million yen per year. Their colleagues with 2-5 years of experience earn 7-8million yen per year. Moving toward, with 5-10 years of experience, an IT project manager could expect to earn 9-10million yen per year. The salary continues to increase, arriving at 13-14million yen per year at the end of the career.

    IT jobs are also listed in our guide to Highest Paying Jobs in Japan.

    Where to find IT jobs in Japan

    So where do you find IT jobs in Japan? What companies hire foreigners?

    Full-time and part-time positions

    There are several ways to find IT jobs in Japan. One of the most useful alternatives is to search on Social Networks and job advertisement sites. Here are some examples of sites where you can find IT jobs in Japan:

    In addition to the websites above, where you will find not only IT positions but also whatever type of works, there are also specific job boards that provide only IT positions in Japan. Some of the most known job boards for IT jobs in Japan are:

    Moreover, as I already said, Japan is becoming the land of startups. According to this reason, some job boards for startup positions have been created. These websites have the main purpose to connect IT professionals with the majority of Japanese Startups. Some examples of job boards for startup positions in Japan are:

    Another way to find both full-time and part-time job opportunities is by checking the website of the companies you like. Some of them have a specific area, usually called “join our team”, “work with us”, or “career”, where they publish their job opportunities, with skills, knowledge, and competences you must have in order to apply for that. Otherwise, they give you the opportunity to send your CV as a spontaneous application. 

    Recruitment Consultants in IT

    Finally, getting IT jobs in Japan can be facilitated through enrollment into some recruitment agencies. This type of agency connects individuals with opportunities that suit their interests and abilities. Some recruitment agencies are international and specialised in many fields. Between them, there are Michael Page, Robert Walters, and Hays

    Recruitment Agencies for Developer

    Furthermore, in Japan, there are also recruitment agencies specialised only in the field of information technology. They help IT engineers and developers find good opportunities. Here is a short list of IT recruitment agencies:

    Freelancer Jobs

    Working as an IT freelancer has both pros and cons. On the one hand, you can gain higher incomes. On the other hand, you must find your clients on your own and it is riskier. In order to find IT freelancer jobs, you have mainly two possibilities. Firstly, you could look up the websites of the companies you are interested in, as per the full-time and part-time jobs. Secondly, Japan gives the possibility to enroll in some websites for freelancers. These are websites that connect freelancers with businesses. You have to sign up, describe the service you are offering, explain your tariffs, and then wait to be contacted by businesses or privates who need the service. IT kyujin Nabi is the number 1 site in the IT field. Other websites for IT freelance jobs in Japan are:

    Education for IT jobs in Japan

    Becoming an IT expert is not easy, it is challenging and it requires studying hard and spending a lot of energies. In recent years, the number of programming academies and schools for beginner-level foreigners has increased. These types of courses allow you to become independent and find an occupation as an entry-level programmer. They are very expensive, but they provide intensive courses. Following these schools requires you to stop working, as they are full-time study. Otherwise, there are also less intensive courses, but they require much more time to be completed. 

    IT Jobs in Japan

    The majority of these programming schools or bootcamp are in contact with companies that offer entry-level programmer positions. This could be a great opportunity that you must not miss. They could help you find the right opportunities for you, making it easier to find IT jobs in Japan. They could introduce you to companies that are thinking about enlarging their businesses. If you prefer to enroll in a bootcamp rather than take a university course, my advice is to look for a bootcamp lasting about a year. This type of bootcamp will give you fairly complete training in programming.

    Here is a list of programming schools in Tokyo:

    You can also choose to learn how to code a programming language at home. Instead, there are a lot of online programming schools from which you can choose. Among these figure out:

    Sometimes, following a coding course is not enough. The IT field needs more and more highly qualified people. A way to become qualified is to do a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Science, or related fields. Master's Degrees are also in great demand. These may create more opportunities for professionals who are seeking career advancement or higher positions in the field. Common Masters are Masters in Information Technology or Technology Management. Following these courses is not a compulsory step, but they are useful because they can prove that you can get through 3-4 years of studying an advanced topic.

    Once you have gained the knowledge you need to start creating a career as an IT worker, start working. Even though you will find a low paid job, do it. Getting experiences is one of the best ways to put into practice what you have studied and become very qualified.

    In Japan, to present yourself effectively to companies, you need to have a Github, a hosting service for software projects. Recruiters may not look at your projects in general, but it helps to get an idea of the type of code you write. Your code is a starting point, and then you can provide some more information about the type of work you did during the interviews. Always include a cover letter, especially if it is a small company. Small companies are well aware of the impact that a less passionate worker in their industry can have on other staff. A cover letter is a great way to create a very human connection with the anonymous person reading your application. If you want to learn how to write a cover letter, read our article.

    Because software moves so fast, the best developers are the ones who are actively interested in the industry. This doesn’t mean you should spend all your spare time coding. However working on a couple of side projects just to learn new technologies and ways of thinking about problems is extremely valuable early in your career and will set you apart from candidates. You should find some publications you enjoy reading that can include new languages on technologies being developed though, it helps you have an idea of appropriate tools to use when you encounter similar problems in the future.

    Another useful tip is to increase your networking. The best way to do that is by taking part in technical meetups and conferences. Currently, there is an increasing number of meetups, for example in Tokyo you can find it almost every night. Check Doorkeeper and HN Kansai to discover the main events around all Japan.

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