tokyodev forum

Career Switch: Landing a tech job in Tokyo?

Long story short, I’m looking to change my career in Japan. I’ve been pointed in the path by some friends at Microsoft in Redmond to follow a Python path.

With that said, I’m looking to ramp up my skills to as to become employable as soon as I can.

My questions are:

  • Are bootcamps the best way to ramp up skills or are there other ways?
  • Any advice in terms of a skill track as it relates to what’s in demand in Tokyo?
  • Realistically, what is a reasonable salary range if I do gain the required skills?
  • Is there any career support or job placement with the bootcamps?

Thanks so much in advance.

Assuming you aren’t already experienced with programming, I think the first step is to confirm it’s something you enjoy and have an aptitude for. There’s many different options, but Progate is one I’m familiar with. They have free courses for the basics, and when I tried it, it seemed like a decent approach.

After that, improve your abilities until you can demonstrate you’ll be able to add value from day 1. Coding bootcamps are one way of doing this. There’s both Japan based ones and global online ones. I know people who have been living in Japan and made the switch this way with both kinds of bootcamps.

The Japan based ones should theoretically be able to help with finding a job here, though you still need to put in a lot of effort yourself. Code Chrysalis and Le Wagon Tokyo are the two English language options.

Another approach is to teaching yourself to code, and then get involved in an open source project or build your own personal project. It can take time, but I know people who have made the switch this way.

A totally different approach can be to look at your current job, and see if there’s some way you can incorporate programming into it. For instance, maybe there’s some tasks you can automate. This doesn’t work for every position, but if it does, it’s a low risk way to pivot your career.

Entry level software developer positions in Japan will typically pay between ¥3 and ¥6 million per year. Code Chrysalis states that their graduates earn an average of ¥5.7 million, but something to keep in mind is that 37% of their students are coming from a technical background, and they may be the ones pushing up the average.

Thanks so much for your reply here. This is all very helpful.


In addition to what pwim wrote.
To choose Python is a good decision. But there is a catch.
Python is broadly used across various platforms for different scenarios (that’s the power of Python).
Common examples are: Web development, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision, hardware-orientated development (like Drones etc), and many more…
And, (the catch is that) it is advisable to focus on a specific area and develop reference-projects. The background is that each of the scenarios do require certain field-knowledge. For example, Artificial Intelligence requires you to have knowledge about statistics & algebra. Web development requires additional knowledge about web application architecture (sometimes additional experience in e.g. JavaScript and/or other, which leads to the term ‘Fullstack developer’). Computer Vision requires you to have understanding in image processing.

So, if you go the Python-path, consider also the actual field of knowledge (or industry) you want to work in (and build experience). A machine learning scientist can read & write python code but is not able to build a web application and vice versa.

That is also important later when you choose your demo-projects which are showing your ability to build an application that solves a problem. There tons of ideas in Google for this. E.g. you could write a web application that allows to chat with other people. It doesn’t have to be something ground breaking.

To have demo-projects which you can add to your CV is recommended when changing careers.