Japan Life

My part-time job experiences in Japan

Written by Adrian

Doing part-time jobs is common among students who study abroad. They do it to gain experience and extra cash, or to enhance their foreign language skills. The same situation happens in Japan. In Japan, part-time employment is common, where many students try to get one as a secondary income. There are also many multiple languages job-searching sites in Japan which make it easier for foreign students. As a student at TIU, I’ve experienced some kinds of “arubaito” that leave me with deep impressions. In this blog post, I will talk about the part-time job requirements in general, and my baito experience in Japan.

Salary and requirements

The first thing to mention is money, right? After all, the final goal for you to take a part-time job is the salary. So, how is the salary for part-time jobs in Japan? The salary depends on what kind of job you do, your position, and it also varies per region. I have experienced 3 part-time jobs, and they have different hourly wages. I used to take a factory job making bento boxes (rice boxes) in Kawagoe, which is 950 yen per hour. Currently, I am taking a 930-yen-per-hour job at a 7-11 convenience store, and a job as a Vietnamese/English translator for Japanese that pays me 2000 yen per hour. As you can see, there are differences in salary between blue and white-collar work already. Moreover, according to my knowledge, my 7-11 store is at Kawagoe station, which is pretty far from Tokyo, while my friend works at a 7-11 store in Shibuya and gets paid 1200 yen per hour. The minimum wage can be estimated as 930 yen/hour, so you can not get paid below that amount. Also, one thing to keep in mind, regardless of how many arubaito you take, as a student in Japan, you cannot work above 28 hours per week! All in all, to me, I can easily live well in Japan without my parents’ financial support.

My own experiences

What a dream amount of salary you can get from baito! But to be fair, everything has its pros and cons. Please remember this when you find arubaito in Japan: being multilingual is not a carte blanche (perfect background) for getting hired. English is an international language, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case in Japan. When I first came to Japan, I was shocked by the fact that the Japanese know little to no English. I was desperate as I cannot communicate with the locals, and therefore complete the essentials procedures like registering a bank account, address, etc. on my own. I started to be scared of going outside alone. As a result, the job-hunting process at the beginning for me was stressful. I can only take up the factory job, which requires no Japanese skills. It was an easy job for me; however, I soon got bored with the same kind of job every day at the factory. I tried to learn some daily Japanese conversation, and as my Japanese improved, I finally had the confidence to apply for a job at a 7-11 convenience store as I thought talking to customers would be beneficial for my communication skills. The application process is rather easy, but the nightmare for me was the interview. At that moment, I can barely understand what my manager said, but I managed to impress him by saying “がんばります ” again and again, which means “I will try my best”. At work, I used those 3 basic greeting phrases: “いらっしゃいませ (Welcome to our store)”, “ありがとうございました (Thank you very much)”, “またお越しくださいませ (Please visit us again)”. Whenever the customer comes into the store, you must say “Welcome to our store” regardless of what you are doing. And, even if the customer left the store without buying anything, I always said “Thank you very much”. Thanks to that, I learned manners and how to use Keigo (Japanese respectful language) because I had to use it for customers. Though knowing English might not help you at first, the multilingual basis can actually help you once you’ve mastered Japanese to some extent. This is when I got the part-time translator job! Generally, if you have N3 you should be fine with most part-time jobs. 

Working benefits

Working part-time in Japan also has a lot of benefits besides the fact that you can improve your language. Most places have incentives such as accommodation, free food, and so on. Most places will pay for your transportation. Regardless of the actual fee, my translation position charged a fixed transportation fee of 1000 yen per day. Going by train from my house to the location cost me about 460 yen, so I had some extra money. Also, at 7-11, I can get free meals. The manager of the store where I worked permitted his employees to have expired bento. Whenever a new bento was out, I was curious about how it tasted. I was delighted when I discovered that I could get those bento for free. Since I enjoy eating, I was overjoyed to learn that I could eat a variety of foods for free. Moreover, fees such as insurance are also included, so you do not need to worry about any troublesome processes before working.

Lessons that I learned

There are 2 tips that I can offer you from my experiences:

  1. Don’t work too much:

This is likely the most important lesson I learned during my baito days. I’d figure out how much money I wanted to make and then just work as many shifts and hours as I could. I worked 3 jobs, went to school, and participated in extracurricular activities. My grades suffered as a result of my exhaustion. Luckily, I am still able to keep my scholarship after my poor performance in my second semester of my first year. This year, I quit the factory job, and I am considering dropping the convenience store job in my next semester to focus on my study.

  1. Work at a less crowded place:

If there is not a huge difference in hour salary or you just work for experience, I’d say refrain from working near Tokyo. According to my friend, his 7-11 store in Shibuya is never empty, so he has to talk for a long period without break, and as for me, it is much more comfortable as the store is only crowded during rush hours.

To conclude, if someone asks me if they should do baito or not, my answer is yes, as long as you can balance between working and studying. Baito will provide you with valuable experience. Most people are doing this for the income, but there are other benefits from doing baito, such as learning manners, developing Japanese skills, and so on. I hope this article has given you some insight into part-time jobs in Japan. Any thoughts or requests for future topics? Let me know in the comments!