You’re on the right track if you are considering applying for a software developer job in Japan. Read on as we offer you information on jobs in software development in Japan – in front, back, and full stack. While having bilingual proficiency in Japanese is an added advantage, it’s worth noting that there is also a big demand for English-speaking talent in Japan.
The IT industry in Japan boasts some of the highest entry-level salaries for both foreigners and its nationals. If you possess the necessary skills and desire to work in Japan, the IT sector will be the ideal industry for a foreigner seeking employment there.
With a rapidly aging population, there is a need to expand its skilled IT workforce. Job recruiters are actively connecting companies with foreign talents and individuals who want to explore the experience of living and working in an IT job in Japan.
Foreigners who embarked on a software development career in Japan have found it to be a fulfilling experience. The Japanese are known for their warm hospitality. Additionally, Japan houses many fast-moving startups and gaishi-kei (foreign companies) in Japan that are less bound by traditional hierarchies. This may be a consideration among non-Japanese employees. Naturally, technology salary trends in Japan are steadily rising and are one of the highly competitive compared to the Western world.
Read on if you want to learn more about how to find a software developer job in Japan. Once you have done so, we can delve into one of the biggest areas of contention regarding technology jobs in Japan – the salary expectations when working at a Japanese tech company.
Average IT salaries in Japan
Let’s start by discussing the general averages for Japanese technology industry salaries.
A quick search for software developer salaries in Japan on the internet will reveal an abundance of information that can be overwhelming due to the level of variation in numbers.
For IT salaries in Tokyo, Glassdoor reports an average of 72.1 million JPY (Japanese yen) per year in 2023. On Quora, the top answer for IT/communications jobs suggests an average of 4.7 million JPY, with men averaging 5 million JPY and women at 3.9 million JPY! According to a 2021 report published by one of Japan’s largest job portals (only available in Japanese), the average annual salary for IT engineers in Japan is 4.53 million JPY.
However, it’s important to note that the variant is across different subsets of the IT industry, such as UI/UX engineers in e-commerce, DevOps in fintech, and also cybersecurity solutions experts. Additionally, experience levels play a significant role – a 22-year-old fresh graduate in an entry-level programming job in Japan would be offered a lower average annual salary compared to an IT Director or Project Manager. Therefore, we need to recognize that the averages are just that: averages.
Averages Are Only Averages
One of the biggest challenges in looking at data for IT wages in Japan is that most, if not all, information applies to Japanese employees. Foreign workers account for only 1.43% of its population, approximately 1.8 million out of 125.3 million Japanese population in 2022.
Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s latest census numbers show that about 50,000 foreigners are working in IT in Japan out of a total of 1.04 million workers in the industry. As foreign IT talent is still a minority at 4.9%, this means average salaries in IT in Japan may not be directly relevant to foreign professionals. In a foreign IT engineer position in Japan, you are a special niche, which is great!
Finding Success Working in Japan as a Foreigner
Being a foreign IT professional in Japan, you are at an advantage as you would have likely taken a different education or career path compared to most Japanese IT professionals. This could have an influence on the salary you can expect.
Companies that hire talents to fill software developer vacancies generally have a greater level of commitment as well as a risk when bringing in foreign talent who may not know the language nor possess an in-depth understanding of Japanese culture and social norms. Consequently, these companies will offer competitive salaries to attract and retain the right talent.
IT Jobs In Japan Are Different from What You May Be Used To
It’s important to understand that IT jobs in Japan may differ from the organizational structures that you are accustomed to in the West. Japanese work culture is unique, and understanding and adapting to it is also crucial to succeeding in Japan.
The distribution of IT roles filled by foreigners varies from that filled by Japanese employees. While there are systems engineers (SE) and systems integrators (SI) in Japan, the presence of in-house software engineers is relatively limited.
According to Meiji University, only 23% of SEs in Japan are graduates of information-related departments, which is low compared to other countries. In India, 72% of SEs are graduates of IT-related departments, while in the U.S., it is 44%.
This disparity, according to Professor Tomokazu Hayakawa, Senior Assistant Professor – School of Science and Technology at Meiji University, is the emphasis on hardware development over software in Japan. It may also be the belief that one can acquire SE knowledge through on-the-job training.
It appears that foreign talents with strong IT credentials are highly sought after by established multinationals for software developer positions in Japan. While smaller domestic startups may also hire foreigners, the salaries offered by these companies tend to be slightly lower.
As a rough gauge, top software companies in Japan pay a foreign developer an additional 1 million JYP over a Japanese employee. Pre-qualified foreign IT professionals are highly sought after due to the scarcity of this talent pool. Consequently, your salary in a Japanese software developer position may be higher than the national average.
Below are some of the top sites to check out the salary ranges that are relevant to you.
Resources For Japanese IT Job Market Pay Rates
Opensalary.jp is an excellent resource for exploring technology job salaries in Japan. The data on the site is contributed anonymously by real-world tech professionals. You are able to compare over 1,200 salaries and gain knowledge on how much software engineers in major companies such as Google Japan, Amazon Web Services, Rakuten, LINE, and others are earning. The salary data is further broken down by years of experience and specific focus areas, allowing you to understand what IT salaries in Japan are like.
Some examples of median salary breakdowns you can find on Opensalary:
- Google Japan: 23M JPY
- Amazon Web Services Japan: 12.5M JPY
- Rakuten: 7.7M JPY
- LINE Corporation: 8.8M JPY
- Median Compensation (Total): 8M JPY
Levels.fyi offers information on global tech salaries with valuable insights on tech jobs in Japan. If you search ‘Japan’ on the platform, you’ll find the average annual salary for a software engineer job in Japan, which stands at 8.6M JPY, and Indeed is the highest paying company for software engineers in Japan, at 19.9M JPY. These salary figures are reported by IT professionals working in Japan.
Levels.fyi further breaks down salaries by level name and years of experience, making it a useful site to explore and explain what salaries for software engineers in Japan are across different companies.
- Rakuten (front-end dev with 10 years experience): 8.5 M JPY
- PayPay (back-end dev with 10 years experience): 0.8 M JPY
- Line (front-end dev with 2-4 years experience): 8.2 M JPY
- MoneyForward (back-end dev with 2 years experience): 4.5 M JPY
- Mercari (back-end dev with 6 years experience): 5.5 M JPY
- Microsoft: (AR/VR with 7 year’s experience): 16 M JPY
- Google: (API -back-end dev with 7 year’s experience): 20 M JPY
Cogs list salaries for IT jobs in Japan, insights on benchmark salaries for bilingual English/Japanese candidates, and how multinational tech companies in Japan generally offer higher salaries for a software engineer or UX designer compared to a Japanese domestic-focused business that may be building their first digital platform.
As per Cogs, the following is a breakdown of the average annual salary you can expect according to the role:
- Digital Analytics (Data Analyst): 4 M – 6 M JPY
- Product Management & Business Analytics – Sr. Product Manager: 10 M – 16 M JPY
- Marketing & E-Commerce – Digital Marketing Manager: 6 M – 12 M JPY
- Product & Program Management – Sr, Project Manager: 8 M – 10 M JPY
- SAAS Sales & Customer Services – Sales Manager: 8 M – 15 M JPY
- Strategy – Planning Director: 15 M – 18 M JPY
For those seeking salaries in Japanese tech companies, specifically major international ones, blind is an excellent website that offers access to a comprehensive database of salary information. Sign-up is required, and the site offers an up-to-date forum where you can discuss job offers from Japanese tech companies and seek advice.
Here is some company-wise data you’ll find on blind:
- Niantic: 30 M JPY
- DoorDash: 20 M JPY
- Mercari: 21 M JPY
Payscale.com provides information on average annual IT salaries in Japan based on role, experience level, and popular skills. It also outlines career paths within the IT industry and the corresponding salary as you progress through your career.
Some of the average salaries listing you’ll find on payscale.com:
- Project Manager: 3 M – 10 M JPY
- Project Engineer: 2 M – 9 M JPY
- Management Consultant: 4 M – 10 M JPY
- Product Manager, Software: 6.54 M – 11 M JPY
Wellfound.com was formerly known as AngelList Talent. You’ll find a job board with a selection of IT job vacancies posted along with the salary range. Here is a random sample:
- EIRE Systems K.K. (IT Support Engineer): 3 M – 5 M JPY
- PayPay (Database Administrator: 7 M – 12 M JPY
- Kasugai, Inc. (Data Engineer: 3.6 M – 5.4 M JPY
Forkwell This is a Japanese-language site with a wide range of salary data. It’s the definite go-to for information on IT salaries in Japan if you read the language. Sign-up is required and at the time of writing, we found over 2,000 job openings for IT personnel.
Here’s a sample listing you’ll find at Forkwell:
- Timee (Backend Tech Lead): 9 M – 14 M JPY
- Persol (SRE): 9 M – 12 M JPY
- Ubiregi (Sr. Engineer): 9 M – 15 M JPY
- Mirrativ (Engineering Manager): 9 M – 15 M JPY
- Progate (Front-end Engineer): 7 M – 10 M JPY
- Study Plus (Sr. Application Engineer): 7 M – 9 M JPY
Another valuable source available in Japanese, OpenMoney.jp, is a useful salary aggregator for jobs in Japan. There might not be an extensive focus on software developers specifically, but the platform still provides a macro view of salaries in Japan.
Sign-in is required to access the data on this website. Some examples of median annual salaries for jobs with some major multinationals in Japan listed are as follows:
- Amazon: 12 M JPY
- Rakuten: 7.7 M JPY
- CyberAgent: 7.8 M JPY
- LINE: 8.3 M JPY
- Softbank: 7 M JPY
A Japanese-language job site like Opensalary.jp with a focus on Japanese IT professionals. Again, a sign-in is required, and you’ll find valuable salary information here.
Project COMP offers a good side-by-side comparison of salaries, and you’ll find that salaries in prominent Japanese companies such as Rakuten average about 7.5M JPY.
There are other variables to consider, but with the right amount of research, you’ll see trends emerging and position yourself to negotiate the right salary based on your qualifications and experience.
We recommend sites like Project COMP as it considers the years of experience in its data.
The following are some examples of salary data from Project COMP:
- Mercari: 11.4 M JPY
- DeNA: 7.9 M JPY
- LINE: 8.4 M JPY
- Rakuten: 7.4 M JPY
- Google Japan: 21 M JPY
If you find Glassdoor useful, you’ll like OpenWork. This comprehensive Japanese-language site has a vast database of salaries, company reviews, and more. Like Glassdoor, you can unlock information by contributing a review of the company you are currently with or have worked for. Alternatively, you can choose to pay a monthly fee to join the platform.
Here are the averages for annual salaries at some of the best IT companies to work for in Japan:
- Google: 17 M JPY
- Microsoft 14 M JPY
- Amazon (AWS): 13 M JPY
- Mercari: 11 M JPY
- LINE: 8.9 M JPY
- Voyage Group: 10 M JPY
- VMWare: 10 M JPY
- Goldman Sachs: 15 M JPY
An exciting and pretty cool feature from Findy is the ability to upload your Github profile, and you can discover your expected salary range. The platform offers a unique option to match jobs based on your score. As a Japanese site, there are many Nikkei listed (homegrown Japanese companies, while foreign-based ones are known as gaishikei) companies that are particularly useful if you intend to seek employment opportunities within the Japanese tech industry.
A bonus: you can use your Github account to sign up at Findy.
Following are some example salary data points from Findy:
- Ubie: 6 M – 12 M JPY
- Medpeer: 5 M – 12 M JPY
- GA technologies: 5 M – 9 M JPY
- MUGENUP: 6 M – 10 M JPY
- Medley: 6 M – 15 M JPY
- SmartHR: 5 M – 10 M JPY
- Repro: 5.4 M – 12 M JPY
- Open8: 7 M – 12 M JPY
- SmartDrive: 6 M – 10 M JPY
- Kokopelli: 7 M – 12 M JPY
- MNTSTQ: 6.5 M – 10 M JPY
- Freee: 5M – 12M JPY
If you are looking to maximize the value of your skills, JobDraft.jp is the perfect platform for you. Just create an account, upload your profile to showcase your abilities to potential employers, and participate in competitive bidding based on your skills and experience.
This Japanese site can provide the platform and insights for you to succeed in the Japanese job market.
Here are some of the salary data from JobDraft.jp:
- Merpay: 5.5 M – 11.3 M JPY
- LINE: 6.5 M – 13 M JPY
- Recruit Lifestyle: 6 M – 10 M JPY
- Speee: 5 M – 15 M JPY
- DMM.com: 6 M – 12 M JPY
- LayerX: 6 M – 10 M JPY
- Works Applications: 6 M – 9 M JPY
- FreakOut: 5 M – 10 M JPY
Green Japan has salary data ranging from startups and venture companies to public-listed and foreign-affiliated companies.
You can use various parameters to search for jobs for different skill levels and age groups too.
A simple check for jobs that pay a salary of over 8M JPY yields thousands of results! From these searches, you’ll see that IT companies pay estimates of salaries ranging from 5M to 10M JPY.
- Uzabase (Internal System Engineer): 6 M – 12 M JPY
- Style Free (Front-End Engineer): 4 M – 12 M JPY
- Spice Factory (Rails Engineer): 6 M – 8 M JPY
- Trustdock (Server-side Engineer): 6 M – 9 M JPY
If you are a student seeking paid internships in Japan, StudentSalary.com is an excellent resource. It provides an overview of minimum, maximum and average hourly internship rates based on experience at top IT companies in Japan.
Here are some samples of the data points available at StudentSalary.com:
- Apple: 10000 JPY/hr
- DeNa:3750 JPY/hr
- Google: 3000 JPY/hr
- LINE 2000: 2667 JPY/hr
- Autoscale: 1300 JPY/hr
- CyberAgent: 1250 – 1500 JPY/hr
Jobtalk.jp is a useful Japanese-language site for checking salary ranges in the IT industry. The platform invites current and former employees to post reviews, insight into the companies, average annual salaries, annual income, interview strategies, and more.
You need to register for an account to see all the data, but even without signing up, you can still see salaries for some companies.
With a job listing of nearly 8000 companies, Jobtalk.jp offers extensive information. Here is a sample of the median salary from Jobtalk.jp:
- SmartNews: 9 M JPY
An alternative way to embark on an IT career in Japan is via coding boot camps, mostly located in Tokyo. Coding/tech schools such as TokyoStack.com offer bootcamps for full-stack web development, data science, and custom projects, with interesting options such as income share agreements and tuition installments.
According to the team at TokyoStack.com, the IT industry has been known for offering competitive salaries. Even at the entry-level, salaries for both foreigners and Japanese average around 4.4M JPY annually.
Company Website Career Pages
Traditionally, Japanese IT companies hesitate to disclose salaries on their career pages. However, this practice is now acceptable in recent years, where some companies would provide salary details. This will also give you an idea of what companies can offer for your IT earning potential in Japan.
Forums & Blog Posts
There are valuable insights provided by blogs and forums where there are English-language blogs dedicated to average salaries in Japan, such as this site on average salaries in Japan. Reddit is another excellent resource for finding first-hand accounts of what it’s like to work for specific companies in Japan. Run through this thread, and you’ll find discussions on working at Rakuten, a major Japanese company that many foreigners use as a stepping stone into the Japanese job market. Similarly, Quora forums offer unedited information that provides a realistic picture of working for various companies in Japan. This thread discusses working at Amazon in Japan.
Glassdoor, known as the grandaddy of user-populated salary ranges, also offers a valuable platform to explore. While some information needs updating, overall, the site offers a good macro view of salaries in IT jobs in Japan. Some examples from Glassdoor are as follows:
- Morgan Mckinley Salary Guide (Software Development Manager): 12 M JPY
- Michael Page Salary Guide 2023 (Network Engineer): 11 M JPY
- Robert Walters Japan Salary Survey
Tech Recruiting Firms
Tech recruiting firms in Japan specializing in matching job seekers with employers are worth consulting. They offer valuable resources in helping you find out more about the salary details you need from an insider’s point of view.
Here is a list of some of Tokyo’s most reputable tech recruiting firms:
- Robert Walters
- Robert Half
- Morgan Mckinley
- Michael Page
- Computer Futures
- Specialized Group
- Career Craft
Recruiting companies’ websites offer a goldmine of valuable information and insights into working in Japan.
Factors that influence software / IT salary ranges in Japan
To ensure you can secure a competitive salary in the Japanese tech industry, it’s important to consider the following facts that influence salary ranges.
Your level of experience plays a significant role in determining your expected salary. Junior developers with 1 – 2 years of experience can earn between 5M to 7M JPY annually, while senior developers with more than 6 years of experience can expect between 8M – 15M JPY. If you have exceptional tech skills, you can negotiate for higher salaries!
Location Another factor to consider is your location. If you are already in Japan, you may have a better option to meet employers interested in hiring you. Consider starting with a company as a ‘stepping stone’ job at a multinational company and then explore other opportunities once you are in Japan.
Fluency in Japanese is a factor to consider when working in Japan. Having a basic level of communication in Japanese can be advantageous. The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) certification is the gold standard for employers to indicate your Japanese proficiency level. Many progressive tech companies in Japan do not even ask for Japanese language skills. However, passing JLPT will add to your growth prospects even higher.
If you already have an IT-related degree, you are at an advantage compared to the IT professionals who gain experience through work.
Rising Demand for Tech Professionals in Japan
The rapid digitalization experienced in Japan and worldwide has led to a growing demand for skilled IT professionals.
Some of the most in-demand IT roles in Japan include (in no particular order):
- Full Stack Developers
- Software Developers
- Data Scientists
- Cybersecurity Specialists
- Cloud Solutions Specialists
According to this article, the top three hiring challenges for employers in Japan are:
- A lack of industry experience (52%)
- A lack of technical qualifications (41%)
- A lack of applicants (27%).
By considering these factors, you should feel confident about finding a tech job in Japan by leveraging your experience, language skills, and qualifications. Moreover, all these factors also indicate the potential for career growth in Japan.
Moreover, as Japanese culture is quite different from Western culture, understanding the same makes it easier to get your dream job and fuel career growth prospects.
Overall, Japan offers great potential for software talent because of the high demand-supply gap – and demand earns better prospects if we can address that with our skills.
When we explore job opportunities in other countries, we tend to convert the offered salary in terms of home currency. When this article was written, the currency conversion rates of the Japanese Yen were not really favorable. But for long-term investors for career, currency exchange rates don’t remain constant. At times those are unfavorable and can make a hole in the pocket, but at other times they become favorable to heal the hole and fill the pockets more than we expected.