Work F.A.Q | Japan Association for Working Holiday Makers

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Work FAQ

・ What kind of work can I do on a Working Holiday Visa?

As a working holiday maker you don’t have any restrictions on working hours or types of jobs with the exception of certain jobs like host/hostess work, work in massage parlours etc., which Working Holiday Visa holders are not permitted to engage in.
While most Working holiday makers work as a language teacher, others find work in restaurants, hotels, ski resorts, etc, although these non-teaching jobs usually require a certain level of Japanese conversation ability. While the wage depends on the area, the hours and the type of job, non-teaching jobs do tend to have lower wage than teaching jobs, though of course there are exceptions. Recently, a number of working holiday makers have found IT-related offices jobs that require only a minimum of Japanese ability. While the wage may be lower, non-teaching jobs give you the opportunity to work in a Japanese-language environment which can help you to gain a clearer understanding of Japanese society and improve your Japanese.

・ Is there a limit to how much work I can do on a Working Holiday Visa?

No. However remember that the aim of the working holiday scheme is to promote understanding and friendship between countries, and work shouldn’t be your primary motivation for coming to Japan on a Working Holiday Visa. There is no limit on how many hours or days per week or how many months you can work on a Working Holiday Visa in Japan.

・ How is the job market at the moment?

The current recession is affecting wages and the number of jobs that are available. The job market for working holiday makers has been getting tougher for several years because of poor economic conditions and also an increase in the number of people coming to Japan looking for work. However, if you are over 21 and have a university degree you should be able to find work in Japan eventually if you aren’t overly particular. It is absolutely essential to bring enough money to survive on until you find a job and to tide you over if you suddenly become unable to work or lose your job.
It used to be fairly easy to find a job as an English teacher, but due to the large numbers of people coming to Japan seeking jobs in this field, it is becoming a little more difficult. On average, it takes newcomers about one to two months to secure a teaching position. During this time it can be quite difficult emotionally, mentally, and financially and it really is important to make sure you bring enough money to survive on while you search for work.

・ How much is the average wage for Working Holiday Makers?

Wages for language teaching jobs in Japan have been dropping in recent years. The most common hourly wage for language teaching jobs in our job files is approximately 2,000 yen, though wages do range from about 1500 yen to about 3000 yen. The wage for non-teaching jobs in our job files is approximately 1000 yen per hour.

・ What kind of work do you provide in your files?

The most common kind of job in our files is language teaching (especially English). Waiter staff/hotel staff jobs are the next most common. Recently there have also been a number of office jobs.
You will find all job offers HERE

・ Is it more difficult to find work in Japan without a university degree?

Yes, it is more difficult to find teaching jobs in Japan without a degree, especially in the major cities. Many employers require applicants to have a degree, but there are exceptions. Teaching jobs that don’t require degrees tend to have lower wages. In the case of unskilled non-teaching jobs, fewer employers require a degree, but conversational-level Japanese is usually required, and in many cases a high level of Japanese proficiency is required.
If you are planning to come to Japan in a gap year before continuing on to university, it is important to be aware that not having a degree and being under the age of 21 does make it more difficult to find work.

・ Is it more difficult to find work in Japan if you’re under 21?

Yes. It does tend to be difficult for people under the age of 21 to find work, and some unfortunately return home disappointed (see above). English schools usually require teachers to be over 21 years of age, but with non-teaching jobs it doesn’t seem to be so much of an issue. Your chances of finding such work increase if you can speak Japanese.

・ Do I need to be able to speak Japanese to find teaching work?

No, but being able to speak Japanese is often an advantage when you are looking for work, and when interacting with Japanese colleagues, even if you aren’t required to speak Japanese in your daily work. You might be surprised by how many people there are in Japan who are unable to speak English. We recommend that you try to learn some Japanese before you leave for Japan, as it will likely make your stay a lot more enjoyable and fulfilling.

・ Is it possible to find skilled non-teaching work if you can’t speak Japanese?

It does tend to be difficult to find skilled non-teaching work that doesn’t require a certain level of Japanese ability, but it very much depends on your other abilities and your field of work. Jobs in the service industry usually require a high degree of Japanese ability. Sometimes people with high levels of expertise in certain fields find employment even though they don't speak Japanese. However, such people are rather the exception.

・ Can I find work before I arrive in Japan?

It depends on your country's Working Holiday Visa conditions. Citizens of some countries are allowed to and others are not. Please contact your nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate for information. The J.A.W.H.M. cannot give out information on the job files that we have in our office to you, until you have registered in person at one of our offices. This is to ensure that access to the information is restricted to Working Holiday Makers who are registered with us.

・ How long does it usually take to find a job after arriving in Japan?

It usually takes between 2 weeks to 2 months, though of course, it very much depends on the person and the time of year. Some people find work almost immediately while some people find it very difficult. Though is quite rare, occasionally there are people who fail to find any work at all and have to end their working holiday earlier than expected.

・ When is the best time to find work in Japan?

Many teaching jobs start in early April (April is the start of the academic and financial year in Japan), so February and the start of March tends to be a good time to look for a teaching work in Japan. Job openings for non-teaching work tends to be more evenly spread out through the year. It is very difficult to find any kind of work right before or during the New Year period, and the ‘Golden Week’ holiday period starting at the end of April. Most companies close during these holiday periods, and hotels, trains, and planes tend to be fully booked. Peak rates apply during the New Year and Golden Week periods making domestic travel expensive. It may also be more difficult to find teaching jobs during the summer holiday period from late July to the end of August.

・ Is it difficult to work as language teachers in Japan when I'm not from an english speaking country?

It does tend to be difficult to find work as language teacher for an other language than English. You can try to look for private students. If you are fairly fluent in English you might be able find work at a small school teaching English to children.

・ How much tax do working holiday makers have to pay?

People who have been in Japan for less than 12 months have to pay an income tax of 20% (this is the ‘non-resident tax rate’ and it applies to Working Holiday Makers). There is also a 8% consumer tax levied on goods and services.

・ Can I find work even if I’ll only be staying in Japan for a couple of months?

As wages are generally paid on a monthly basis, many employers require that employees work for at least three months. If you are planning to stay for less than three months your employment opportunities will be limited, but there are a number of short-term jobs available.