Do You Really Need the JLPT to Get a Job in Japan?
How is the Job Hunting Process in Japan? Over the last few years, the number of international students who want to work in Japan after graduation has steadily increased, and many organizations want to hire students with international experience as well. In order to successfully get a job in Japan, we recommend to first learning the business level of Japanese.
The vast majority of Jobs in Japan require daily interoffice communication in Japanese – and that would require someone to be able to comfortably pass the n2 level of the JLPT Exam.
The hiring process itself is Japanese intensive – depending on what sort of role you will be interviewing for.
You will need to write an Entry Sheet (ES) – similar to a cover letter, this requires a high level of Japanese writing skills. There are also Interviews/ Group discussions, requiring excellent Japanese speaking skills.
There are exceptions to this – if you are going into an industry in Japan that does not require Japanese, such as software engineering or recruiting. But depending on the company culture – most Japanese companies do require a business level of Japanese from foreign employees.
And if not required, it gives you a significant advantage in your application process.
For fresh grad recruitment, Japanese companies have a rigid and structured process. Most companies follow the same recruiting schedule — annual periodic recruitment of new graduates.
This hiring process is very similar to a career fair or mass job interview. Japanese universities send out graduates in March and accept new students in April.
Accordingly, those who graduated will join their company and start working on the April 1 of every year. If you expect to graduate in March 2022 or September 2021, check this recruitment calendar practiced by most Japanese companies.
This recruitment calendar shows the job hunting schedule – starting from March 2022, so if you are a fresh grad, you still have time to study JLPT and get N1 or N2.
What is the JLPT?
JLPT stands for Japanese Language Proficiency Test, also known as 日本語能力試験. As the name suggests, the exam measures and certifies the Japanese proficiency of non-native Japanese speakers and is used by universities and employees inside and outside Japan. It is normally carried out twice a year in Japan and is also available in certain other countries. JLPT Exams are often taken by Japanese learners planning a future in Japan!
What are the different levels of the JLPT?
The JLPT is divided into 5 different levels: N1, N2, N3, N4, and N5, with N1 being the most advanced level and N5 being the most basic.
- The N4 and N5 test you on basic Japanese that you can often learn in a classroom environment
- The N3 acts as a bridge between N4/N5 and N2/N1
- The N2 and N1 test you on a wider spectrum of Japanese knowledge used in various situations in everyday life
What JLPT level is required for job hunting in Japan?
If you want to work in Japan, most Japanese companies require JLPT N2 as a minimum level of your Japanese. With the idea that your Japanese will consistently improve once you are hired. Some companies may even require N1.
Regardless of the requirement on the job posting – most companies in Japan have the expectation that you are conversationally fluent and capable of communicating with your colleagues about the work that you are doing, for work that is directly related to creating written documents in Japanese, the standard will be higher.
Keep in mind that many Japanese companies are not familiar with the JLPT – and they may simply look at the defined levels and construct their job posting based on the guidance provided by the Japan Foundation.
So this could result in a mismatch between the advertisement and their real expectation. They may say N3 is okay, but then when they interview you, they would have a higher expectation for your communication ability.
So the short answer here is that there is no specific JLPT level that will open doors for you, but if you can communicate fluently in Japanese with your colleagues and your bosses, then you should be okay.
Jobs you can consider applying after acquiring N2
- Translators (Japanese to English)
- Administrative Assistants
- Tourism and Hospitality related service work
- Sales Support Services
- Flight Attendants
- Part-time work at Convenience Stores or Grocery, Restaurants
Jobs you can consider applying after acquiring N1
- Most jobs are a viable option
- Prerequisite for Medical Practitioners or Doctors
- Public Health Nurse
- Radiology Technologist
- Clinical engineer
- Emergency Medical Technician
- Speech Therapist
- Dental Hygienist
- Dental Technician
- Clinical Laboratory Technician
- Physical Therapist
- Occupational Therapist