TokyoDev forum

Advice on how to land a web developer job in Japan

Hi! after following TokyoDev for quite sometime and been inspired by some of the stories I finally decided to reach out to the community to seek advice on what should I be prepared of in applying a web developer job in Japan.

Here’s my current situation. I’m from the Philippines, 28 years old and I have a degree in a Computer Science related course (BS - Information Technology). I am working in my current company for 4 years now. Nowadays I am working on Reports made from SQL Reporting Services (SSRS) and if I ever get involved in web development I can only do so in the database side. I design the tables, SQL views and stored procedures.

I was able to have a web development task but it is at most a miniscule enhancement like putting export functions in one of our company’s tools. I was about to get assigned a development task this year since I was able to prove myself that I am able to do it somehow with the small enhancement that I made in some of the company’s tools but because of the sudden resignation of one our data engineers I was forced to take up on his task with the SSRS reports and other database tasks. Since I was able to make some of these reports before making me the “nearest” person to entrust this tasks on. For sure the experience is great but it is frustrating that I am once again being eluded from the oppurtunity to become a fullstack web developer and just the other day we have a team discussion of what might be the best path of each team member. I admitted of wanting to become a fullstack developer however as I am apart of the Database team it is more or less impossible to happen which only made me even more frustrated causing me to not fully pay attention to the discussion.

I figured I must act on this if I don’t want to go further away with what I wanted to pursue.

Here are some of the things that I have in mind that I wanted to seek to advice with for the meantime:

  1. While it is stated in the Job Posting that there is little to no Japanese required I can see from various post that it would still be beneficial for a foreign applicant to know about Japanese language. May I know what are your recommendations of sources for me to build up my Japanese language skills would online sources be enough are certificates like the JLPT necessary for me to apply a developer job in Japan or do I have to enroll in a program? I don’t know if I would be able to enroll in a program as I still have my work.

  2. What are the backend/server-side tech stacks that are in-demand in Japan right now? I was planning to go for PHP since it is the language that I am somewhat familiar and made a few projects with and currently studying but looking at the survey poll: [link] (2021 International Developers in Japan Survey | TokyoDev). it would seem that PHP developers have a lower pay compared to developers in other tech stacks. Should I go for a different stack that is more in demand to study and work with?

  3. Supposing if was I lucky enough to get an offer. How would I know if said offer is worth taking? How would I know if an offer is offering high/low salary? What are the things that I need to look out for when signing the contract offer?

  4. How would I tell black companies against the legit companies apart?

  5. Would my age affect my chances of employment?

So far these are the questions that I have in mind I might have to reply further in this thread if I’m able to think something along the way.

Thanks in advance!

Here’s some quick thoughts.

  1. Time spent studying Japanese is time you aren’t spending improving yourself in other ways. If you enjoy studying Japanese, I’d say go for it, but otherwise, it’s likely years of intensive study before you have enough ability to make a difference.
  2. Personally, I’d learn programming before web development, so I’d start with a general purpose programming language. I’d also choose something with a lot of resources for beginners. I think Ruby, Python, or JavaScript are good choices in this regard. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics, you can then look at programming languages more generally. I’d try a variety of them, and choose the one that you click with.
  3. I’d personally not be worried too much about the first offer you get. Being in Japan with a working visa makes you a lot more valuable than applying from abroad, and so if the company underpays you, you should relatively easily be able to find something better. These days, I’d say ¥4 million annually is the absolute minimum salary I’d entertain, even for someone without much experience as a developer.
  4. Ask questions of the developers who are interviewing you. For instance, you can ask things like how the team plans projects and estimates deadlines, and what happens when it looks like they aren’t going to meet a deadline.
  5. If you’re 28 and changing a focus from DB to development, I wouldn’t say age would play much of a factor.
1 Like

Hi! Thanks for the reply!
Here’s what I think that I should do based on your comment.

  1. Since this is the case maybe I’ll just watch/read some online sources about Japanese to improve.
    I don’t know how am I going to get this on my schedule but I will think of a way to make it happen,
    hopefully I will be able to make some progress by the end of the year even by a little.

  2. While I’m not actually a total beginner in programming I admit that I still a have a long way to go. Especially because I’m thinking of transitioning to Ruby from PHP. I am also considering Python and Javascript as you’ve mentioned but Ruby is the one got that got my attention for some reason.

  3. Thanks for pointing this out it would seem that I’ve forgotten the fact I am applying from abroad. I shouldn’t be expecting good deals immediately and that I should reserve such thoughts once I finally get there and have an actual developer job.

  4. I see. I’ll keep this in mind.

  5. I take it that my current age wouldn’t increase or decrease my chances of having a developer job in Japan? Sorry about the ridiculous question I just want to clarify because I’ve read/heard somewhere (forgot where I read/heard this rumor) that it’s gonna be hard/impossible for a foreigner to have a developer job in Japan once you get 30 years old. Since I only have 2 years remaining before the supposed age deadline I can’t help but worry about it and thinking of giving up.

Thanks again in advance!