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Daily Life & Schools
Part-Time Work in Japan: What Jobs Are Available for International Students?
August 11, 2023  |  By Jeff Richards

As a student, you may want to work a part-time job to help supplement your income and give you some extra spending money. There are lots of different jobs available, with your Japanese level being the main determining factor of what you will be qualified for. This guide will help you get some ideas.

Rules for Working on a Student Visa

Students can work up to 28 hours per week. They cannot work in any business that is considered adult entertainment or involving “poor morals.” This includes:

  • Videogame arcades
  • Pachinko parlors
  • Night clubs
  • Hostess clubs
  • Bars
  • Sexual services
  • Get rich quick schemes

Bars can be confusing as restaurants and izakaya (a cross between a Japanese-style bar and a restaurant) serve alcohol. Instead, consider what is the main focus of sales. If it’s a setting that mostly sells food with alcohol as drink options, then it’s likely fine. If it’s a bar that just sells alcohol and peanuts, that’s not going to be allowed.

You can always check with your employer—they should know (it would be based on the classification of the business), although if they don’t (or lie) and you get caught by the police, you’re going to be in big trouble. You can always ask your school for advice, or even immigration if it’s a really ambiguous case.

Where to Find Work in Japan

The best resource is GaijinPot Jobs! We have a whole category for part-time jobs with a variety of positions available for students. This should be your first resource and any job there has been vetted by us to be trustworthy. There are many bad job sites out there offering illegal jobs and scams because the job’s agent takes a big cut of your pay to introduce you.

Your school may also have a job board full of local businesses that want workers. These will usually only be available in Japanese but can give you opportunities that online sites won’t have.

Popular Jobs for Students

Depending on your level of Japanese and your experience, these are the types of jobs you can expect to find as a student in Japan.

Low-level Japanese jobs (Zero-N4)

These types of jobs require very little to no Japanese.

English Teaching

For most people, if you cannot speak Japanese, English teaching is your best bet. This is convenient for several reasons. First, positions are usually plentiful and all you usually need to qualify is to be a native speaker. English teaching can pay decently and are typically flexible, e.g., arranging a schedule that gives you plenty of time for school and homework, four-day work weeks, etc.

Convenience Store

Konbini (convenience stores) are all over Japan and are usually hiring. Although you do need to speak some Japanese, the standards are very low—you could probably apply after being in the country for just a few months. You will learn some basic phrases and scenarios and then just work in the shop. Interacting with customers will help build your confidence in speaking Japanese and you will also learn the Japanese work ethic, which will be valuable for future jobs. If anything complicated does occur, usually there will be a Japanese staff member or manager on duty who can take over for you.

Factory Work

These kinds of jobs are usually advertised by the schools. A very low level of Japanese is needed, as it’s mostly just following directions. There are many factories throughout the country, from making bentos for convenience stores to working on mechanical assembly lines.

Mid-level Japanese jobs (N4-N3)

If you have been studying for a while and consider your Japanese language skills around an intermediate level, consider searching for one of these types of jobs.

Restaurants

Similar to convenience stores, restaurants are always hiring. You do need to interact with the customers more, so a higher Japanese level is required, but it’s usually not too demanding. Most jobs are as waiters (known as hall staff here). Occasionally, a cooking job may come up if you have culinary skills.

Web Developer

Although they prefer full-time workers, many businesses will employ part-timers to do web development. Some Japanese may be needed, but usually nothing too complex. It’s mostly just to communicate with your co-workers and understand the job details. Companies may hire you as a full-timer once your studies are completed.

High-level Japanese jobs (N2+)

These types of jobs will require you to speak and interact with customers a lot, so you should feel confident in your Japanese level before applying.

Retail store

Working at a retail store or department store can offer a lot of opportunities to interact with Japanese people. You will need to be able to answer questions, but it’s a great way to really practice your Japanese and learn expressions you might not learn in school. Many stores have foreign customers, so they will value you being able to interact with people in your native language.

Hotel staff

Hotels often hire foreigners that can speak Japanese. Front-desk is always a popular setting, but there are usually positions throughout the entire hotel. Since service is everything in the hospitality industry, there will be a lot of training on proper Japanese keigo (respectful language) and manners, which will be a good experience for any future job in Japan. Many hotels also have the opportunity to work for them full-time once your studies are over.

This list isn’t exhaustive and as a student, you can work almost anywhere, so as long as your Japanese ability is appropriate for the job, feel free to apply.

If you have any questions about studying in Japan, contact us at the GaijinPot Student Placement Program.

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