Tokyo Dev

Developer jobs in Japan Developer Life in Japan

Jobs in Japan for Self-taught Programmers / (transitioning from teaching)


Hi TokyoDev Crew.

I am a 30 year old, single American male living in Tokyo. I have been living in Japan for 5 years teaching English.

After learning more about myself and my life goals, I have decided to pursue a career in IT and CS. I plan to start by learning the basics of Web Design and Computer Programming and then looking for an internship later. I have a BA in Philosophy, and I am confident in my ability to learn anything at a quick pace.

Although I am currently employed full-time teaching English at a kindergarten, next year I plan to freelance 2 or 3 days a week, and devote the rest of my time to studying programming, web design, and CS basics. I will also be studying to pass JLPT 1.

My goal is to be proficient enough to work in Japan or America with a fairly well-rounded skill-set. Other than putting in the time and networking to find job opportunities, should I be aware of any other hurdles I might face trying to enter the market here? I am not looking for a traditional 9 to 7 Japanese job, stagnant wages, and long commute times. As interested as I am in learning software development, I still want to improve my quality of life.

Could anyone here please point me toward a comparison between Japanese and American development job statistics?

Your time and consideration is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.


The first barrier is going to be a visa. Having a BA doesn’t make you eligible for an engineering visa, so to be employed here in a developer capacity, you’d need to do something like get permanent residency, or find a company that hires you primarily in a capacity as an English speaker but involves some technical skills.

I also wouldn’t be worried about what the average developer job is like here. No typical Japanese company is going to want to hire you as you’re both a foreigner and not a software development professional. So you’re going to be looking for some non-traditional position, where statistics don’t apply.

How successful you are really depends on a combination of your ability to hustle and your talent for software development. I do know people coming from a non-traditional background who have been able to get developer jobs here, so it is possible, but it probably won’t be easy, especially in the beginning.

If you do become a fluent Japanese speaker, being someone who is bilingual plus has developer skills will give you an advantage in Japan, but not in America. On the other hand, there are going to be more opportunities in America for you. I wouldn’t worry about which is easier, as I think either route has its pros and cons, but instead focus on what you want to do.