Moving to Japan long-term is a goal for many, but there aren't many jobs you can get without a good grasp of the Japanese language. In this article we'll go over the basic examples of jobs you can get in Japan without knowing much Japanese.
Teaching English as an ALT
An ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) typically teaches at one more Japanese public schools at elementary, junior high school and senior high school ages. You can find work as an ALT in most parts of Japan, including countryside areas. The salary range for this sort of work is between 250,000 and 300,000 JPY per month.
The two main ways to get a job as an ALT are through the JET programme and via an agency (like Interac). I think the JET programme has a slightly more involved application process than Interac, but you're treated quite well on the programme and the pay is relatively good.
I've heard some horror stories about working conditions at Interac, but things may have improved since I was an ALT.
One of the benefits of working as an ALT is that you get to live in the Japanese countryside, the 'real' Japan as it were. This can be good if you make the most of it, really immerse yourself in the culture and get into your own adventures. If you're not particularly extroverted, it can feel a little isolated. Either way, it will be brilliant for your Japanese as you will be forced to learn to survive.
Teaching English at an Eikaiwa School
As an Eikaiwa (English Conversation) instructor, you'll have lessons with individuals and small groups. Again, this can be with students of all ages but tends to be skewed towards adults.
Work conditions vary wildly between schools, though beginning salaries are pegged firmly at the 250,000 JPY / month point. There are countless stories of bad conditions at many of the Eikaiwa schools, so it's worth doing some research before jumping into any offers you're given.
In my experience, I worked at an Eikaiwa school called Berlitz Japan. While the hours were long, I got paid fairly well, had very interesting students and the managerial staff were very accomodating and friendly. Personally, I have no complaints about my experience there but your mileage may vary.
In Tokyo there are a number of recruitment firms that hire foreigners. If you have a penchant for sales and like the idea of getting into adventures in corporate Japan, then this might be for you.
Pay is considerably better than English teaching work (entry level work might pay 350,000 JPY / month base + commissions) but the work is arguably a lot harder. You really need to be comfortable with the entire sales process.
Examples of companies that operate in Tokyo include Wall Street Associates and Robert Walters Japan.
Note to self: learn Japanese
While these are perfectly good choices for jobs in Japan, if you're planning on sticking around for more than a few years, you really ought to learn some Japanese. There are foreigners who have lived in Tokyo for decades who still don't speak the language very well. Don't be one of them. Learning Japanese will go a long way towards integrating you into Japanese society, and open all sorts of doors for you carreer-wise.