Guide to Nursing Jobs in Japan

By Elena / December 2020

Are you a nurse or are you thinking about becoming a nurse? Are you passionate about taking care of others? Maybe this guide is the one for you. If you want to find nursing jobs in Japan, follow our steps. We will teach you all you need to know in order to enter the Japanese world as a nurse. This guide contains full and clear information about the nursing industry in Japan, how to become a good nurse, and many others.

This article is part of our series of jobs in Japan.

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    Nursing Industry in Japan

    As we all know, this is a strange year. We are living in a particular situation, where movements and travels are limited due to the need of stopping the pandemic caused by Covid-19. The crisis, born at the beginning of 2020, has brought to the enormous need for doctors and nurses in order to hinder the pandemic and look after all the Covid-19 patients. This is the first reason for the increasing demand for nurses in Japan. In addition to that, nowadays the Japanese population lives longer than in past years, and the shortage of nurses for the elderly is going to become more acute. All things considered, there is a high demand for several types of nursing jobs in Japan.

    Nurses have many responsibilities and duties. Nurses assist doctors and other specialists in the diagnostic/therapeutic treatment of patients by performing tests, administering medicines, and monitoring their physical and mental health conditions. The majority of nurses work in hospitals (more than 60% of the total number of nurses in Japan) or private and public clinics (more than 20% of the total number of nurses in Japan), although some of them may choose to work in other types of establishments, such as nursing homes, where they will provide more personalised care. 

    Evidence shows that in 2018 there were 1.22 million nurses registered in Japan. In recent years, the enormous shortage of nurses has forced the country to also hire foreign nurses to cover the gap. The majority of these foreign nurses come from Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. This shortage is expected to increase: within 5/10 years there will be a shortage of one million nurses. 

    nurses working in japan

    Where Nurses are needed

    Nurses work closely with doctors. Even though the majority of them work in hospitals, there are also other opportunities for nursing jobs in Japan.

    Here is a list of places where nurses are needed:


    As I already said, the majority of nurses in Japan work here. Hospitals are the larger buildings for healthcare compared to all the other facilities. They offer specialised treatment and admit patients for several days. 


    A clinic is a health facility that focuses primarily on outpatient care. Clinics can be run privately or publicly. They generally cover the primary health needs of populations in local communities. 

    Public Health Centers

    A public health center is a government facility that relies on medical public issues. Its primary role is to prevent infectious diseases and chronic health problems. It monitors air and water quality and certifies the quality of hotels, restaurants, barbers, and so on. Finally, it provides health consultation to patients with mental and chronic illness. 

    Maternity Homes

    A maternity home is a type of facility that provides support for pregnant women who are unable to confide in their parents and partners. 

    Nursing homes

    A nursing home is an accommodation for elderly people, where they can find and receive medical treatment for their illness (many of them related to the elderly). Thus, it is a place of residence for people who need continuous nursing care and have considerable difficulties in coping with the required activities of daily life.

    Rehab Centers

    Rehab centers, or rehabilitation centers, are centers that provide comprehensive medical care. Their patients have various functional and other disorders that affect their daily activities, from the alleviation of these disorders to support for social rehabilitation. They can also be specialised in a particular field, e.g. they can help people with drug and alcohol problems, they can help people with disabilities, and so on.

    Types of Nursing jobs in Japan

    Although nursing has a long history in Japan, the modern version of nursing was established and developed when they turned traditional Chinese medicine into Western one. Nowadays, Japan recognises four types of nurses: 

    Public Health Nurses

    A public health nurse is a person who deals with health guides in the public sector. Typically, public health nurses work in public health centers, in the public administration, such as municipalities, towns, or villages, as well as in industry, schools, or hospitals. Public health nurses are professionals who conduct operations, e.g. methods of entering communities. Through their activities, they find common health problems within a community and try to find solutions to them by enhancing partnership and collaboration with residents.


    Midwife is a health profession: she takes care of the woman during pregnancy, labour, childbirth, and post-partum. In Japan, midwives can also work at home; however, the majority of them work in hospitals (in 2018, more than 60% of midwives worked in hospitals). 

    midwife delivering baby in japan

    Registered Nurses

    A registered nurse is a person who finished his/her study in a nursing program and who obtained the nursing license. They can work in several settings, such as hospitals, private or public clinics, and so on. They can also be specialised in a particular field. They help doctors doing operations and help patients with every problem they could meet.

    Assistant Nurses

    Nurses' assistants are the only category of nurses in Japan who can work without professional certification to help registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. Nursing assistants carry out various tasks, such as washing laundry, cleaning, and office duties in nursing care. Improving the motivation of nursing assistants to work is essential for every hospital because when nursing assistants do their work well, they allow registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to do their specialised work.


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    Skills needed for Nursing jobs in Japan

    Being a good nurse is not easy, it is a challenging and stimulating job where you constantly need to improve yourself and be ready to tackle the new challenges that face your patients. In order to find nursing jobs in Japan, you need to develop some knowledge and skills. These range from hard skills, such as Japanese language skills and medical skills, to soft skills, such as cultural awareness and time management. 

    Here is a list of some of the most important skills you must have if you want to gain nursing jobs in Japan:

    Japanese language Skills

    The first thing you must know about the knowledge and skills of a nurse in Japan is the knowledge of the Japanese language. This skill is compulsory to find nursing jobs in Japan, as you will be supposed to pass a nursing Japanese test before starting working as a nurse. 

    If you want to improve the knowledge of this difficult language, here is an article on how to learn Japanese based on your starting level. 

    If you already have Japanese basic knowledge and you want to become fluent in this language, you should read the BFF Tokyo article about How to Reach Advanced Level Japanese and Beyond

    Another useful option is to enroll in a course of Japan Switch. This is the cheapest Japanese school in Tokyo with more than 200 students.

    English Language Skills

    Apart from Japanese language, you will be expected to have a fluent level of English knowledge, as this language is used to communicate with foreign patients who don’t speak Japanese and for the fact that English is considered the Lingua Franca for the whole world.

    Medical Skills

    Another compulsory skill is related to the medical field. You must have an in-depth knowledge of the field before becoming a nurse, as you will be expected to work with the life of people. The only way to develop these skills and knowledge is through a university course of study.

    Japanese Cultural Knowledge

    Japanese cultural knowledge is a must-have for a nurse. You should understand and know what Japanese people consider important and acceptable, and what they consider illegitimate. The main reason is that the culture of a country influences the patients’ view of health, wellness, care, acceptance of and adherence to treatment, and even death.

    Communication Skills

    Nurses must be good communicators. They should have good both oral and written communication. They work with many people, such as patients, doctors, other nurses, and so on. They should be able to communicate efficiently with all these people as everyone can understand the current situation. When they communicate with patients, they must be calm, measured, and professionals in explaining the results of the diagnosis and the medical treatments. 


    Nurses are professionals and they have to be professionals whatever they do. They must exhibit professionalism in front of patients but also in front of colleagues. Professionalism encompasses many areas, such as attitude, respect, responsibility, and so on. A nurse must remember that he/she is just a part of the bigger machine of the hospital/clinic and remember that what he/she does influences the whole machine. For this reason, a nurse must be professional in all his/her tasks.

    Attention to Detail

    Having strong attention to detail enables you to avoid medical mistakes and give better patient care. Nurses interact with many patients and doctors throughout the day and they are the record keepers, as they run diagnostic tests, give medications, and put these results into a patient’s document. Everything must be well-recorded, precise, and updated in order to avoid medical complications.

    Problem Solving Skills

    Another essential skill for nurses is a problem-solving skill. In a hospital, everything can happen: hospitalised patients can have complications or new patients can arrive with strange medical conditions. Nurses should be able to tackle a difficult and stressful situation efficiently and to figure out what could cause it.

    Time Management

    In order to find nursing jobs in Japan, time management skills are essential. You should understand which parts of your work have priorities and which patients need to be visited before the others. You could organize your time with personal checklists and spreadsheets to have all your tasks clear and well organized.

    nurse taking temperature in japan

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    Salaries for Nursing Jobs in Japan

    If you want to start a career as a nurse in Japan, you will be surely interested in how much this job is paid. Salaries change according to several things, such as the years of experience, skills, gender, and location. Considering the location, salaries can vary drastically from one place to another and they depend highly on the career field. Considering gender, female nurses are expected to earn 5% more than their male colleagues. Between all these factors, the years of experience is the most important factor that influences the final salary. The more years of experience you have, the higher your salary is. 

    Here is a list of some nursing jobs in Japan with a description of their salary, considering the years of experience as the main factor: 

    Public Health Nurse

    A nurse with less than 2 years of experience earns 3.3 million yen per year. When he or she reaches 5 years of experience, he/she can earn 3.7 million yen per year. Moving forward, an experience level between five and ten years lands a salary of 5.3 million yen per year. Additionally, nurses with ten-fifteen years of experience earn 6.8 million yen per year. At the end of the career, a nurse can expect to earn 7.5 million yen per year. 


    A midwife with less than 2 years of experience earns 3.4 million yen per year. When he or she reaches 5 years of experience, he/she can earn 4.8 million yen per year. Moving forward, an experience level between five and ten years lands a salary of 6.3 million yen per year. Additionally, midwives with ten-fifteen years of experience earn 7.8 million yen per year. At the end of the career, a midwife can expect to earn 9 million yen per year. 

    Registered Nurse

    A registered nurse with less than 2 years of experience earns 3 million yen per year. When he or she reaches 5 years of experience, he/she can earn 4 million yen per year. Moving forward, an experience level between five and ten years lands a salary of 5.4 million yen per year. Additionally, registered nurses with ten-fifteen years of experience earn 7.2 million yen per year. At the end of the career, a registered nurse can expect to earn 7.7 million yen per year.

    nurse giving flu shot in japan

    Where to find Nursing Jobs in Japan

    So where do you find nursing jobs in Japan? What facilities hire foreigners?

    There are several ways to find full-time and part-time nursing jobs in Japan. One of the most well-known ways is by searching on social networks and job advertisement sites. Here are some examples of sites where you can find nursing jobs in Japan: 

    Moreover, if you are interested in finding nursing jobs in Japan, you can enroll in some recruitment agencies. A recruitment agency is a structure aimed at helping people find a job. In Japan there are more than 100 recruitment agencies, so you can decide between a wide range of options. However, many of the positions through these agencies require very high skills; thus, it could be easier for you to find a position if you have already had some working experience.

    Here is a list of some recruitment agencies you can enroll in:

    Finally, you can decide to enroll in TheJEGroup: they help foreigners starting a career as nurses in Japan. They work as career search consultants to assist their clients to allocate and secure them new roles internationally. 

    nurse talking to patient in reception area in japan

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    Education for Nurses in Japan

    If you want to find nursing jobs in Japan, you have to complete your education by studying hard and constantly improving yourself. You must follow some important steps in order to find nursing jobs in Japan. The first step is related to the field of study. In this case, foreign candidates can choose between two options:

    First option: Follow University Courses in Japan

    The first thing you must do to become a nurse in japan is completing your study in nursing. There are several courses in nursing. Before enrolling in these courses, the foreign candidates have to complete twelve years of basic academic study (high school) and need to have a certificate that shows that. Then, they can enroll in a three/four years nursing course study. In the majority of courses, basic nursing education is provided at 4-year colleges or universities by enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 3-year junior colleges by earning an Associate of Science in Nursing, or 3-year training schools after graduation from high school by obtaining a diploma. Between the best nursing schools in Japan, there are:

    Second Option: Follow University Courses in their country of origin

    If you do not want to enroll in a Japanese university or college, you can also decide to enroll in a nursing course of study in your country of origin. However, in this case, before working as a nurse in Japan, you must have two years of working experience as a nurse in your home country.

    Passing the national nursing test

    Once you finish your study, you must pass the national licensing examination in order to obtain the license from the Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare. This step is compulsory for every future nurse, it doesn't matter if you studied in Japan or in your home country, and if you are a foreigner or a Japanese. The test is in Japanese and it is really difficult, especially for the language issue. For this reason, not many foreigners are able to pass this exam. Once you pass the exam, you can finally start working as a nurse in Japan.

    student nurse passing nursing test in japan

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