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Top 10 Highest-Paying Jobs in Japan

The Japanese job market is dynamic and fast-evolving, characterized by a strong emphasis on technological advancements, manufacturing, and services. As one of the world’s largest economies, Japan offers diverse career opportunities, particularly in larger cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. The nation’s aging population, reduced workforce, and recent changes in price behaviors due to an increased inflation rate have spurred demand for skilled professionals, making the Land of the Rising Sun an attractive destination for talents from all over the world.  

Securing a high-paying job is essential for career growth and financial stability, as it provides individuals with the resources to invest in their personal and professional development. Higher-paying roles often come with additional benefits such as comprehensive health care, retirement plans, and opportunities for advancement, making them highly desirable. Whether you’re a fresh graduate or an experienced professional, understanding which roles offer the best financial rewards can be a game-changer in navigating your career path in Japan.

Top 10 Highest-Paying Jobs in Japan


Highest-paying jobs in Japan – what are they?


When it comes to choosing a career, salary is often a significant factor. Understanding which professions offer the highest financial rewards can guide your career decisions and help you achieve your financial goals. Below is the list of the 10 highest-paying jobs in Japan, compared to the nation’s average base salary equivalent to JP¥4,140,000 per year.

OccupationAverage base pay (JP¥) / yr% more than the national average base salary 
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)51,968,000 1155.27%
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)26,000,000528.02%
IT director20,000,000383.09%
Airline pilot16,100,000288.89%
Neurosurgeon16,080,000288.41%
HR director 16,000,000286.47%
IT security engineer15,000,000262.32%
Marketing director14,200,000243.00%
Investment banking analyst13,200,000218.84%
Software engineer11,600,000180.19%

Most of these positions are in top management or technical fields, requiring specific qualifications, skills, and experiences. In the next section, we will present a detailed guide to help you prepare for success in these competitive, high-paying professions.

What are the common career paths to the highest-paying jobs?

Today, career building has become more lenient, consisting of different patterns rather than a linear progression. Of course, some professions, like CEOs or commercial pilots, have a higher hierarchy and a more rigid structure than others. Still, there is no magical formula for getting any of the above-mentioned high-paying jobs in Japan, but there are possible prerequisites to help establish your career. 

The first and most important of them all is to find which profession spikes your interest – this can guide you to the next steps. Common career paths to the highest-paying jobs in Japan typically involve a combination of advanced education, extensive experience, and strategic career progression. Many top executives, such as CEOs and CFOs, often start in lower management or financial roles, then gradually move up the corporate ladder while gaining leadership experience and advanced degrees, for example, an MBA. In fields like medicine and aviation, specialized training, rigorous certification processes, and accumulating practical experiences are essential. Technical roles, such as IT directors and software engineers, usually require a strong educational foundation in computer science or mathematics, followed by years of hands-on experience and continuous learning through certifications and professional development. A Guide to IT Jobs in Japan in 2024 has all the latest resources and tips for those who don’t know where to start. 

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How does the job market for these high-paying jobs look in Japan?

Although the job market in Japan is generally positive in most professions, some variation can be noticed.

Tech professionals 

  • Japan is a major tech hub, and skilled professionals like IT directors, IT security engineers, and software engineers are always needed
  • The revenue for the Japanese IT industry is expected to show an annual growth rate of 5.61% by 2029, and a 2023 survey conducted by Robert Walters suggests an average salary increase of 4.8% for IT professionals in Japan

Financial experts

  • CFOs and investment banking analysts play a crucial role in supporting Japan’s robust financial sectors
  • Japan’s economy is the third largest in the world, meaning that it has the necessary stability for a prosperous financial sector  

Medical specialists

  • An aging population increases the demand for specialized healthcare
  • By 2025, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare projects a shortage of over 40,000 doctors–neurosurgeons and other medical doctors will be sought-after and are likely to have high salaries due to their expertise and extensive training 

Management

  • CEOs, HR directors, and marketing directors are in high demand as they contribute to strong leadership and drive the company’s success 
  • In 2022, the average bonus for CEOs in Japan was JP¥80 million (approximately US$740,000), compared to US$510,000 in the United States

Aviation

  • Airline pilots may face increased competition due to automation and a potential slowdown in air travel caused by new disruptive technologies or stronger environmental concerns in the upcoming years
  • Commercial pilots’ salaries might be lower due to seniority-based pay structures; however, as many will soon be retiring (for example, a Japanese airline, ANA, set a retirement age of 60 years old for regular employees), new possibilities are open for novice talents 

Getting a high-paying job in Japan – where and how?

Figuring out which job would be the right fit for you only solves a part of the equation–the most important step is to actually find, apply, and get this job. Japan’s dynamic job market has plenty of opportunities for high earners, but where exactly are these high-paying opportunities concentrated, and how can you position yourself to secure one? Major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya are key centers for these roles, especially in finance, technology, and healthcare. So here is how:

Network strategically

Build connections on LinkedIn and attend industry events to connect with professionals and gain access to unadvertised opportunities. Our Business Networking guide gives useful tips and explains in detail how to thrive in networking in Japan. 

Leverage specialized recruiters

Explore the websites of recruitment agencies like Indeed, Michael Page, Rikunabi, CareerCross, Mynavi, BizReach, and Wantedly, which specialize in placing talent in high-paying positions at multinational companies and start-ups. 

Attend the career events 

Career Forum (CFN) hosts regular events throughout the year in various locations, including Tokyo, Osaka, London, Boston, and Los Angeles targeting bilingual talents. Similarly, the JET Career Fair offers a wide range of networking opportunities for multilingual professionals, hosting its events in Japan’s major cities. 

If you are from Vietnam, Thailand, India, or Indonesia, the Tokyo Job Fair is an excellent place for both recruiters and international talents to promote business globalization. 

Job fair and networking events

Remember that building a strong network of professionals in your field is key. Attend industry events, connect on LinkedIn, and participate in online communities. Make sure to stay in touch with recruiters who specialize in your desired field, as they can provide you with valuable advice about your career and often have access to exclusive, high-paying opportunities. By nurturing these connections early on, you’ll position yourself to be the first one to know about new available roles and stand out to recruiters when your dream job in Japan comes along.

7 Tips for non-Japanese professionals

Landing a high-paying job in Japan is an exciting prospect, but it requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some key tips for non-Japanese professionals looking to break into the market:

1. Do your research

Make sure you have a strong understanding of the position you’re applying for and the responsibilities that come with it. Read employee reviews, industry reports, and news articles to understand a company’s values, work style, expectations, and specific requirements for the roles you’re interested in. Know what skills and qualifications you need and don’t hesitate to get in touch with the company’s representatives in case you have unanswered questions. 

2. Highlight your international experiences 

Don’t downplay your international background! Present your experience as a valuable asset that can bring a fresh perspective and diverse skills to the company.

3. Build a strong network  

Attend networking events to help you accelerate your career by making meaningful connections and learning about the environment you may be immersed in once you get the job—the ‘Network strategically’ section of this guide will help you get started. 

4. Contact recruiters 

Get in touch with recruiters via email or LinkedIn and invite them for a coffee chat to discuss the role you are interested in. This will help you to learn more about the job and understand what the company is looking for in a candidate. You can refer to the Japanese email guide to help you make a good first impression.

5. Educate yourself

Complete online training or enroll in a course to develop new knowledge and skills and stand out as a strong candidate when applying for the position. Japanese and overseas universities offer a wide range of courses for many disciplines, and online platforms such as Coursera and Forage can help you showcase your abilities to recruiters through free certification programs.  

6. Practice your Japanese

While fluency might not always be mandatory, strong Japanese language skills are a significant asset for many high-paying jobs. Employers appreciate the effort and see it as a sign of commitment and respect for the culture. Explore language courses, online resources like Japan Foundation and Minato, or consider enrolling in an intensive Japanese language program in Japan. You can find further details on a Government-approved information website – Study in Japan.

7. Prepare strong application material 

To ensure that your application materials are professional and well-presented, research Japanese resume formats (履歴書 – rirekisho) and cover letter styles (職務経歴書 – shokumu keirekisho). Make sure to tailor your resume and cover letter to each specific job application, highlighting relevant skills and experience for the Japanese market. 

Research for job market and skills needed for high-paying professions

Qualifying for high-paying jobs in Japan 

Securing a well-paid position in Japan requires a combination of specialized skills, cultural knowledge, and adaptability. Business or native-level proficiency in both Japanese and English can significantly enhance your prospects, particularly in large multinational companies. Technical skills in fields such as information technology (IT), engineering, and finance are a must. In addition, demonstrating strong problem-solving abilities, effective communication, and a deep understanding of Japanese business etiquette can set you apart in the competitive job market. Strong leadership, time management, and interpersonal skills are essential for any role in any field, whether you want to become a C-suite executive or a pilot. 

This section will explore the key skills and essential qualifications to help you secure a top-paying job in Japan.

What qualifications and skills are needed for these high-paying jobs?

1. Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

  • Skills: strategic thinking, leadership, decision-making, communication, negotiation, and financial awareness
  • Qualifications: advanced degree (MBA or equivalent), extensive experience in management and leadership roles, and a deep understanding of the industry

2. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

  • Skills: financial management, strategic planning, risk management, analytical skills, and leadership
  • Qualifications: advanced degree in finance, economics or accounting (MBA, CPA, or equivalent), significant experience in financial roles, and strong knowledge of financial regulations

3. IT director

  • Skills: IT strategy, leadership, project management, communication, and technical expertise
  • Qualifications: advanced degree in computer science, information technology (or any related field), extensive experience in IT management, and certifications in relevant technologies

4. Airline pilot

  • Skills: communication, problem-solving, quick decision-making, and teamwork
  • Qualifications: commercial pilot’s license, extensive flight hours, and completion of rigorous training programs. Fluency in English and Japanese is often required

5. Neurosurgeon 

  • Skills: surgical skills, precision, technical knowledge, problem-solving, critical thinking, and patient care
  • Qualifications: medical degree, completion of a neurosurgery residency, board certification, and ongoing education to stay current with medical advancements

6. HR director

  • Skills: leadership, communication, strategic planning, conflict resolution, and organizational development
  • Qualifications: advanced degree in human resources or business administration (or any related field), extensive experience in HR management, and strong knowledge of labor laws and HR best practices

7. IT security engineer

  • Skills: cybersecurity, risk assessment, problem-solving, analytical skills, and technical expertise
  • Qualifications: degree in computer science or cybersecurity, relevant certifications (CISSP, CEH, etc.), and experience in IT security roles

8. Marketing director 

  • Skills: marketing strategy, leadership, communication, market analysis, and brand management
  • Qualifications: advanced degree in marketing or business administration (or any related field), substantial experience in marketing roles, and a track record of successful marketing campaigns.

9. Investment banking analyst

  • Skills: Financial analysis, communication, quantitative skills, attention to detail, and problem-solving
  • Qualifications: degree in finance, economics, business, or mathematics, relevant certifications (CFA, CPA, etc.), and experience in financial analysis or investment banking

10. Software engineer

  • Skills: programming, problem-solving, analytical thinking, teamwork, and technical expertise
  • Qualifications: degree in computer science or software engineering, proficiency in programming languages, and experience with software development methodologies

Each of these high-paying jobs in Japan requires a unique set of technical and soft skills, as well as qualifications such as an MBA in Japan. Yet, they all emphasize the importance of expertise, experience, continuous professional development, industry-specific skillsets, and adaptability. 

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What educational institutions in Japan offer programs geared towards high-paying careers?

Based on the 2023 Centi-Millionaire Report published by New World Wealth, 206 of the world’s highest earners, with incomes estimated at $100 million or more, are graduates of the University of Tokyo. This places the University of Tokyo among the top 20 universities worldwide and as Japan’s leading educational institution, producing high-earning individuals who have achieved centi-millionaire status.

Other esteemed institutions, such as Keio University, Waseda University, and Kyoto University, are among the world’s top 100 and have the highest graduate employability rankings. Each of these educational institutions offers English-taught degrees and non-degree programs, where students can learn from diverse experts and head-start their careers in various fields, including but not limited to engineering, medicine, law, and business.

In addition to these universities, many other excellent educational institutions in Japan offer programs geared towards high-paying careers. The best institution for you will depend on your professional goals and interests, as the programs offered will vary with each university.

Final Thoughts

The Land of the Rising Sun offers a dynamic job market with opportunities for ambitious professionals to make high incomes. Do these high-paying roles spark your interest? If so, with careful planning, targeted skill development, and a strategic search, you can increase your chances of landing one of these positions. But remember, while these high-paying careers offer exciting opportunities, achieving a healthy work-life balance is key. Finding a balance between professional success and personal fulfillment will allow you to fully experience all that Japan has to offer.
 

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