Updated: Nov 7, 2019
By: Santiago Brignole Araujo
Published date: September 14th, 2019
"Arubaito"(バイト）, part-time job, not only helps to improve the level of Japanese. It is the best tool that students and foreigners have to begin working experiences in Japan. Language teaching, service in コンビニ(Stores like 7-11), or restaurants/bars, and so on. The are several options, and their requirement skills are different from one another. But what they all have in common, is that they are very likely to be means for supporting financing during their stay in this country. In this article, you will know advantages and disadvantages of the most popular arubaito. If you have part-time experiences for a long period of time at a workplace, "Arubaito" experiences can be added up on your resume in the course of doing job-hun for full-time position.
Undoubtedly, the large number of students and visitors who come to Japan wishes to start working in Japan and feel the Japanese experience at "another level". The part time experience gives a basic idea of how it is like to work in Japan. Through part-time experiences, foreigners can catch up with vocabularies and conversational skills which are extremely necessary for one to apply for a full-time job. In this article, we will introduce the options and language level necessary for doing part time jobs or “arubaito” (アルバイト) in Japan.
English or other languages teaching job in Japan
Working as a teacher of English or foreign language is a clear option when it comes to working part-time or full-time in Japan. Depending on the companies, some may request to have some level of Japanese, and others may only require that the teacher has the desire to speak in the requested language to teach without the need for Japanese.
It is a fairly popular part-time job, especially for people from English-speaking countries. The pay is very good compared to other arubaito (approximately between 2000 and 4000 yen per hour depending on the company) and the work environment is much more relaxed. Obviously, there are also other institutions and schools that request teachers from other languages, yet English teaching jobs are most common one among languages.
Convenience store: The famous “コンビニ” in Japan
There are コンビニ in almost every corner of urban cities throughout Japan, and everyone goes there for its convenience buying drinks, foods and even daily consumption products because they open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offering the customers all kinds of products.
"Konbinis" are indeed one of the most accessible type of work for foreigners and young Japanese people who want to make some money during their time studying at the university. The payment is usually around 980-1050 yen per hour. Co-workers are usually not only foreigners but also Japanese, mostly students or housewives. Schedule can be quite flexible, and night shift (from 11pm onwards) usually offers better pay than daytime hours. Applying for this arubaito is quite simple, since companies (such as Seven Eleven or Lawson) allow the application for vacant positions through their websites.
Wuyi (23 years old) is from China, near the big city of Shanghai, Right now she is studying at a Japanese language school in Tokyo and she had the chance to work at a konbini.
“For me, working at a konbini was the perfect opportunity to practice what I was learning at the school. I had to cook some bento, talk to clients and serve. And for that purpose, my N4 (JLPT japanese exam) level was enough”. Japanese level required in each konbini franchise are different from one another, and some stores require you to have N2 level, yet others still give N3/N4 foreigners to work due to labor shortage Japan faces in this decade.
Restaurants and bars "Izakaya" (居酒屋) in Japan
Another very common place to work among foreigners residing in Japan are restaurants, bars, or even Isakayas or traditional Japanese bars.
Arnon Surasawet is 23 years old and is originally from Bangkok, Thailand. He is currently working part-time in an Izakaya in the Nihonbashi neighborhood of Tokyo.
"Working in izakaya is a very rich experience for me. Language learning is constant and in many opportunities there are interesting exchanges with clients."
Regarding the necessary Japanese level to carry out this type of work, he has no doubt: "Personally, I think that at least N3 level is necessary, since the employee must be prepared to be efficient, even in situations where the client uses a complex vocabulary, which one may not understand 100%. The payment usually goes around 900 or 1100 yen per hour, and the “Hello work” office offers a lot of arubaito at these places. Also, students can search for advertisements at free work magazines like “townwork” that can be found at any konbini or stations.
There are factories all kinds: metals, specific products and even "bento" boxes. An advantage of these establishments is that an employee can work without having a previous level of Japanese. However, the physical, mental and time requirement is often exhausting. This job can be well paid, paying 1000-1200 yen per hour. But, these factories are usually far from the big cities and working environment may not be the best if you are looking for white-collar jobs.
Part-time job experiences in Japan help in the phase of job-hunt for full-time job in Japan?
Achieving a full-time job in Japan is one of the aspirations of many university or language students in this country. Full-time jobs have a variety impossible to describe in their entirety. However, the experience provided by part-time jobs can be the key to enter the japanese working world. Learning of everyday language, knowledge of formal language or "keigo", knowing of what is necessary to have a successful job interview.
Kameda Ayako is a professor at Tokyo Galaxy Japanese Language school. She has been working in this school for 2 years, however, her career as a Japanese language instructor dates back to 2001. Her words are very enlightening regarding the job search by students, both for arubaito or part time and full time. She says “at arubaito level we can say that the level of Japanese most accepted today is the N4. However, in full-time jobs this consideration changes dramatically." When asked about the difficulty in obtaining this type of work, or the tools necessary for a foreigner to succeed in his search, Kameda sensei was clear.
"The level necessary for most full-time jobs is N1. Nevertheless, today an N2 level is also accepted."
Therefore, it is obvious that international students in Japan need to step up the game to acquire at least N2 or even N1 level of Japanese skills to start career in Japan. That is exactly why your experiences in part-time job interacting with your boss, colleagues or customers become crucial for you to become more and more fluent in Japanese.
Word of Advice:
We can affirm that the job opportunities in Japan are diverse and each of them can have its considerations. However, the more experience an individual generates, his chances of success will clearly increase. Good arubaito experiences will equip you with formal and informal conversational skills & interpersonal skills in Japanese environment. These tools are the key to understanding and advancing your career in Japan. Arubaito are perhaps the necessary step to have a successful life in Japan. At the end of the days, everything is up to you to become successful. It is crucial for students keep the balance between academic work and arubaito, and now more start up companies offer paid-internship which can be a great choice for proactive students.