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best way to plan my move to Japan 2017/7/2 04:31
I've been traveling to Japan for awhile now and in my last trip this year I wonder how would I go about living here? finding a job? I've been researching and finding out the steps to live in Japan. But I want to know from a foreigner who actually lives there and is in a similar situation myself. I read that all you need is a work visa, which you can get with a bachelors degree. Now I read that this bachelors can be from any college and from any field of study is this true?

I live in Florida and 21 years old I don't mind going to school for another 4 years to get my bachelors. I would like to know what would be the best subject for me? I see with this degree the main job that foreigners get is teaching English, I would love that. But I would also like to move on to different subjects of teaching. I know in Japan there are some schools where you can fully teach a different subject other than English. Like when I went to Okinawa I know there were some schools that had classes that were taught in english to english speakers.

I would like to know how can I accomplished that? Would I need to study for a bachelors here in Florida in a specific field to do something like that?

Or should I just study for anything like the easiest major and get my bachelors as soon as possible and when I move to Japan study for something more than English teaching?

And one more question. Does it matter what I study here in Florida? If I move to Japan with a degree will the most I can do with that degree is teach English? Example if I studied to become a physician I don't think I will be able to practice that in Japan, right?

Or would it be better to do 2 years here in Florida and another 2 years in Japan? Like I said I would like to do something more than English teaching in Japan for a few years.
by orangechicken137  

Re: best way to plan my move to Japan 2017/7/2 12:20
Okay, here's the beginner's guide, although there are plenty of exceptions.

1) Get a bachelor degree from an accredited university
It must be an accredited college or university, and has to be a bachelors or higher. Immigration doesn't care about the subject, but that's not to say employers won't. For English teaching - essentially an entry-level job without the requirement of any special skills - then the choice of degree doesn't matter too much. Anything which requires a national / regional exam (i.e. medicine, pharmacy, dentistry) won't carry over - your US medical degree is nothing more than a fancy piece of paper here.
Nowadays, an increasing number of Japanese universities offer degrees taught in English. They are often not so expensive either (national university tuition is about $5000 / yr), and there are some good programs. You can learn Japanese while you study.

2) get a job offer
You need a job offer from an employer willing to sponsor a visa. Generally, English teaching is the first step. The easiest way to accomplish this is through a job website, such as gaijinpot.com

3) learn Japanese
Once in Japan, you may wish to transition careers. There are only so many times you can repeat "this is a pen" before it gets old. In most cases, you'll need fluent Japanese to land a job in a Japanese company. This would require being able to pass at least the 2nd level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).

It's generally a good idea to get more qualifications. If you want to teach English forever, I would suggest an education or an English / ESL degree. Similarly if you want to work at an internaitonal school in Japan, an education degree will be necessary. If you want to teach English at a university, at least a Master degree. If you want to teach another subject at a university, then a PhD will be the way to go.

That covers most bases, but I have probably forgot some things. I am sure my colleagues in this forum will be able to help fill in the gaps.
by Dainichi Heater rate this post as useful

Re: best way to plan my move to Japan 2017/7/3 10:05
I'm just going to add one more point to the above answer which is already very complete, also considering that you have time to prepare for the situation in the future.

STEM degrees are in very high demand in Japan and they will be even more in the future. Right now, most companies here (japanese and foreign) still require you to be fluent in Japanese (although there are exceptions). But, from my own experiencing, I'm noticing that this requirement is getting more flexible due to companies becoming desperate to find skilled workers. There are thousands of open positions and some of them have been vacant for a year or more. It's a matter of time before companies understand it is a luxury to have highly skilled engineers that can also speak native level japanese. However, if you can become one of the people in that exclusive circle, nothing can stop you.

Thus, my killer plan would be the following:

1. Get a STEM degree in Japan. Aim for a good international university (Keio, Sophia, Waseda...etc.).
2. Learn the language intensively while studying and be fluent by the time of your graduation (you have approximately 4-5 years... it is doable).
3. Go through the same job-hunting process as the locals.
4. If you did it right, eventually you should find a job as a seishain at a respectable company.

I'm not saying that STEM degrees in Japan are better that in the U.S. or Europe (actually quite the opposite, in my opinion), but if you get a degree outside of Japan and then you apply for a job here, companies no longer care about the university you graduated from - unless you're talking MIT level - and basically just want to see your experience and language ability. Experience means at least 5 years in one field. Less than that and the chances decrease considerably.

Then, a more challenging path (which is the one I did), with more financial reward but less guarantee is:

1. Get a STEM degree in your country combined with an exchange student experience in Japan.
2. Get into a respectable company and build a strong resume, including international assignments or working in other countries.
3. Learn Japanese by yourself, aim at N3 at the very least.
4. After 6-7 years, if companies in Japan are not hunting you yet, then you apply. You will land a job with a salary far superior to locals.

Now, if you don't like STEM degrees.... then I cannot help you as I'm not knowledgeable in other fields.
by gachimuchi (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: best way to plan my move to Japan 2017/7/3 19:12
For the "learn Japanese", not just JLPT, but read, write and speak - you'll be expected to be better than a local.

The other option is to self-sponsor, but that needs other skills.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: best way to plan my move to Japan 2017/7/4 02:31
You don't have to get your degree in Florida or the US, you know. There is an American university in Tokyo called the Temple University, Japan Campus. You can get a legit 4-year bachelor's degree there, study Japanese too. Plenty of time to hunt for jobs in Japan that will give work visas. Why wait until after you get a bachelor's degree. You can come to Japan now.
by guest (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: best way to plan my move to Japan 2017/7/4 17:53
I agree with guest that you don't need to do your degree in the US - you can do it in Japan.

I would mention that Temple is pretty expensive - I think their tuition runs about $22k per year, although you can use Pell Grants, etc. Their degree range is also low - just a few programs offered.

Japanese universities are pretty cheap by comparison - $5k per year for a national, and maybe $10 - 15k for most private universities. Although the educational system is different, and more dependent on students being self-motivated learners, the degrees are no less valid. The program I work on at a national university just put our 3rd student into Oxford for their Master degree, and we've also had graduates go to Yale, UCLA, Berkeley, U Michigan, NU Singapore, KU Leuven, etc.
by Dainichi Heater rate this post as useful

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