Living in Japan can be an exotic fantasy for any young American longing to see far-off places. But traveling there and finding a place to live can cause a major hit to a bank account. For anyone wishing to make an extended stay, getting a job might be the best option. Language aptitude and education level can help you find and handle a suitable job in the Japanese workforce.
Getting a job teaching English to Japanese students is one of the easiest ways for an American to get work in Japan. This usually requires signing a contract with a teaching program, such as the Jet Programme, and having at least a bachelor-level degree. Engineering, IT and finance jobs are also available, but they may be harder to land for a foreigner, as they require not only at least a bachelors, and sometimes a master's degree, but also a fluency in the Japanese language that is beyond what is required of language teachers. Jobs such as bar-tending and waiting tables may be easy to find, but they may require a familiarity with Japanese math and money that someone fresh to the country won't have. You will also have to keep in mind that jobs such as waiting tables don't require a degree, so you will have to get a special work visa. Finding a civilian job working for the U.S. government in Japan can be another option, as they usually hire civilians for administrative and nursing jobs. But if you get a job working for Americans in Japan, you may miss out on the excitement of integrating into the Japanese culture and workforce.
Many language teaching programs in Japan require teachers to sign a contract for one or two years. Those contracts must be fulfilled to avoid losing salary, housing allowances or even the loss of your work visa, which could mean you will have to leave the country.
Okinawa is considered one of the best places for Americans to look for work in Japan, as the U.S. military presence there means that more English speakers live in the area. As a result, more business employees and residents speak English.
If you choose to find work in an area of Japan with a reasonably sized English speaking population or near a U.S. army base, it is still a good idea to have a working knowledge of the Japanese language and monetary system, as well as being able to read some kanji, or Japanese writing characters.
If you are an American citizen, in general, you must have a degree to work in Japan. Exception to this include attending school with a student visa, being married to a Japanese citizen and holding a spousal visa, or being married to a non-Japanese citizen working in Japan, in which case you can have a dependent visa.