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Work in Japan Without a Degree

“Can I work in Japan even without a degree?” Have you thought about that? Or have you heard one of your friends or relatives say that? A lot of people have been dreaming about moving to Japan to work and live there. According to The Japan Times, there is a total number of 1,658,804 foreign workers in the country as of October 2019, the highest level on record they got. 

The Japanese government feels the need to bring more workforce because its population is aging rapidly. But will it be possible for you to work in the country even if you haven’t completed a degree?

Is it Possible to Get a Working Visa Without a Degree?

The answer is a resounding “yes”. But how? 

Japan has different types of work visas. Some of these types have specific educational requirements that applicants should meet, and thus, high school graduates or diploma holders are not qualified. So how may you qualify? If you have no degree, but you have enough years of experience in the job you wish to apply for, that is 10 years, you will then qualify. 

To understand clearly, let’s take a sample job post, hiring for a Marketing Director. The requirements are as follow:

Skills:

    • Financial and analytical skills
    • Understanding of the commercial aspects of the medicine/vaccine development process through to launch.
    • Ability to utilize insights from key customers patients, payers, providers to drive key marketing decisions and forecasts
    • Effective communications and negotiation skills for a wide variety of audiences, including senior management.

Education/Language Skills:

    • BA/BS in Business or related discipline
    • Fluent both in English and Japanese

With the stated requirements, we will then understand that a non-degree holder won’t qualify for the job because it has educational requirements.

How about a sample job post from this website? A construction firm is hiring a Construction Project Manager in Yokohama. Its requirements are as follow:

    • Must currently live in Japan;
    • Must have a valid visa and eligibility to work in Japan;
    • Able to speak conversational Japanese well;
    • An experienced construction project manager is preferred;
    • Able to work immediately.

This post simply requires experience. This means that a non-degree holder can qualify and all you need to do is present your employment certificate. But, what if you don’t qualify academically, yet you also don’t have enough work experience? Let’s take a look at the types of work visas that do not require a degree.

What are the Types of Working Visas that Do Not Require a Degree?

Japan has different types of work visas and thirteen (13) of these will allow you to work in Japan even if you have no degree. The following are the different work visas:

  • Professor
  • Artist
  • Religious activities
  • Journalist
  • Business manager
  • Legal/Accounting services
  • Medical services
  • Inter-company transfer
  • Nursing care
  • Performer
  • Skilled worker
  • Specified skilled worker
  • Technical intern
  • Researcher
  • Instructor
  • Humanities/International services

On this list, only the last three (3) visas are those that require a university or graduate degree and the rest of them have no educational requirements.

There are other options for foreigners to work in Japan even without a degree.

Alternative Visas that Allow Working in Japan

Though Specified Skilled Worker visa is included in the list above, we would like to emphasize that this type of visa has opened a greater opportunity for foreigners to work in Japan even if you have no degree which was introduced a year ago. In order to qualify for this visa, applicants should at least have N4 Japanese language level or higher and pass a new Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) that will be conducted in each industry. These industries are the following:

    • Care Worker
    • Building Cleaning Management
    • Machine Parts and Tooling Industries
    • Industrial Machinery Industry
    • Electric, Electronics and Information Industries
    • Construction Industry
    • Shipbuilding and ship machinery industry
    • Automobile repair and maintenance
    • Aviation industry
    • Accommodation industry
    • Agriculture
    • Fishery and aquaculture
    • Manufacture of food and beverages
    • Food service industry

You will learn more details about this type of visa on this link.

The Working Holiday visa will also help you to work in Japan easier. This type of visa is based on a bilateral arrangement between Japan and its partner countries for the young ones, ages between 18 and 30, to stay in each country during holidays while they have the option to work temporarily and as part-time. On April 1, 2020, Japan has updated the list of its 26 partner countries such as:

      • Australia
      • New Zealand
      • Canada
      • Republic of Korea
      • France
      • Germany
      • United Kingdom
      • Ireland
      • Denmark
      • Taiwan
      • Hong Kong
      • Norway
      • Portugal
      • Poland
      • Slovakia
      • Austria
      • Hungary
      • Spain
      • Argentina
      • Chile
      • Iceland
      • Czech
      • Lithuania
      • Sweden
      • Estonia
      • Netherlands

This is an opportunity for a foreigner to stay and work in Japan. However, if you have this type of visa, you are prohibited to work at bars, night clubs, gambling companies, or any establishments that may affect one’s morals. Working in the mentioned places is a violation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and is punishable by deportation. For further details about this type of visa, you may refer to “What is Japan Working Holiday Visa?” article.

One more visa that may allow you to work in Japan is the student visa. This type of visa, as we can immediately understand, is for those who will study in Japan, to learn the Japanese language, or to get a degree. However, this type of visa will only allow you to work part-time or up to 28 hours per week. If you pursue a university degree after taking a Japanese language course, you will have a greater opportunity to work full-time in Japan.

How to Apply?

To apply for a work visa in Japan, the following are the generic requirements:

      • Resume/Comprehensive vitae
      • Passport
      • Visa application form
      • Photograph
      • Original copy of your Certificate of Eligibility (CoE). 

If you have no degree but have at least 10 years of experience in the field you want to work in Japan, you need to prove that you really have gained much experience by submitting a certificate of employment from each company you have worked for. 

For the Specified Skilled Worker visa, you need to pass the skills exam and the Japanese language test and then, sign an employment contract with the accepting organization where you will work.

Working Holiday visa has different requirements and processes for each country Japan has partnered to. Since this is based on a bilateral arrangement, the only way to apply for this type of visa is by visiting the Japanese embassy or consulate general in your home country.

For those who will apply for a student visa, you will need to get a certificate of admission from the school you have enrolled in. Other documents may be asked, depending on the consulate in your home country. A more comprehensive step on how to apply for this type of visa is discussed in our other article.

These required documents should be submitted to the Japanese embassy or consulate. You will also need to undergo tests or examinations. Just as a reminder, never forget to get your original copy of your CoE once your visa is issued. Though the process will take time and much effort, it will be rewarding once you receive your work visa, even if you have no degree. 

To get more specified steps on how to apply for a work visa, read our Getting a Work Visa in Japan article.

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  1. May 15th, 2020