Software engineer salary in Japan is usually higher than other industries such as IT and service industries. Software engineers are paid almost three times more than the average worker, so if you’re looking to work in Japan, it’s a good idea to study programming and get a qualification that’s recognized by employers.
The IT-service industry in Japan is heavily dependent on foreign engineers who can speak English and communicate well with clients from around the world. But tech companies in Japan are struggling to fill vacancies, especially due to a lack of qualified local applicants. The needs are most acute at large software firms, which must compete globally for talent.
Software Engineer Salary in Japan. The average annual salary for a Software Engineer in Japan is ¥2,180,000.
Software Engineer Salary In Japan Overview
If you’re considering moving to Japan, you may be wondering how much money a software engineer can make there.
Well, if you’re looking for a high salary, Tokyo is the place to be. The average annual salary of a software engineer in Tokyo is around $79k USD. This is about $6k higher than what software engineers earn across the country as a whole.
This doesn’t mean that other cities have lower salaries—in fact, it’s quite the opposite: Software engineers in Osaka and Nagoya make $72k and $73k per year respectively.
What’s more, there are plenty of opportunities for non-Japanese speakers who want to work in Japan as well; Google has offices in Tokyo and Osaka where they employ roughly 1,000 people each.
who is a software engineer
A software engineer is a person who can write, test, verify and maintain the code for computer programs. A software developer usually has strong abilities and skills including: advanced problem solving techniques, logic, communications skills to deal with clients effectively, mathematical analysis and logical reasoning.
What does a software engineer do?
Software engineers are the creative force behind computer programs of all kinds. They design and write the code used to build everything from operating systems to apps to video games.
In this role, you may be involved with every stage of the software development process, from figuring out what users need and how they’ll use the software to rolling out a completed application. You may sometimes work with computer programmers, although many developers complete all the coding themselves.
Day-to-day tasks might include:
- Analyzing the needs of software users
- Designing, testing, and building software programs to meet user needs
- Creating models and diagrams that outline the code needed to create software and applications
- Performing maintenance and testing to keep software functioning
- Documenting the process to provide the information needed for upgrades and maintenance
What qualifications does a software engineer need?
To secure a job as a software engineer, you will need the following –
- A bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering/Computer Science/Information Technology
- Knowledge of programming languages such as JAVA or Python
- Knowledge of high school mathematics
What skills do you need to be a software engineer?
To make your career to grow as a software engineer and earn the highest possible Software Engineer/Developer salary in India, you need to have update yourself with:
- C ++
- Databases such as Oracle and MySQL
- Basic networking concepts
When your prospected employer interviews you, it would also expect you to have some experience in –
- Android development
- Working projects involving artificial intelligence
Also read: Java free online courses!
You should also be familiar with –
- Object-oriented design or OOD
- Debugging a program
- Testing software
- Coding in modern languages such as Ruby, R and Go
Since software developers work in a team, you are also expected to have excellent –
- Communication skills
- Willingness to work together and cooperate with others
Average salary for developer jobs in Japan
Let’s start by looking at the overall average for software engineering jobs in Japan.
This data is easy to find. In fact, if you search google you’ll find countless resources claiming to know the average salary of software engineers in Japan. Let’s look at some examples.
A survey from Japanese service DODA found it to be 4.6 million. Heikin nenshu says the average for “system engineers” is 5 million.
Quick aside: I’ll use Japanese yen throughout this guide for simplicity. Exchange rates fluctuate, so any conversion I attempt would be outdated quickly. 10M JPY means “10 million yen”.
Glassdoor’s a bit of an outlier here, but it looks like the figures converge at around 5 to 5.5 million yen. This is for all experience levels, so we can assume averages for new grads to be lower (maybe 3-4 million?) while more experienced engineers will earn a bit more (6-7 million?).
I believe this value is mostly accurate when applied to Japan as a whole.
The problem with averages
The problem with relying on this data is simple. It’s not relevant for foreigners.
Only one in ~48 people in Japan is non-Japanese. And the majority of those come from the surrounding Asian countries, so if you’re from anywhere else you’re even more rare than that. That means being a foreigner here puts you in a very small minority.
What about engineers specifically? A recent report from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare found that there are 52,038 foreigners working in the IT industry Japan.
Another government report says that in 2019 there are 1,045,512 people working in IT overall, which means the foreigner percentage of IT workers is actually a bit higher than the average for the general population. But it’s still only 5%.
It’s clear that the foreign population represents a small portion of the data behind macro-level statistics like average IT salaries in Japan. So I’d argue that there’s pretty much no point in looking at them if you’re a foreigner. In other words, don’t let the average hold you back.
Because for better or worse, foreign engineers in Japan are unique.
Working in Japan as a foreigner
Being a foreigner in Japan makes you an exception.
The average non-Japanese engineer in Japan has followed a very different path to end up at their job than a Japanese engineer, and this impacts salaries.
Companies in Japan don’t hire foreign developers without a good reason. Bringing someone over from abroad is usually a bigger commitment than hiring a Japanese developer. We’re more likely to incur extra costs like visa sponsorship and relocation assistance. We’re much less likely to speak Japanese well or understand the subtleties of Japanese culture, and there’s a chance we’ll give up and move back to our home country.
Hiring a foreigner is a liability. It’s taking a risk, and most companies don’t take risks like that without a good reason.
Find an Amazing Tech Job in Japan
Sign up to hear about English-friendly tech jobs in Japan. Straight to your inbox 1-2x a week.
Japan’s IT industry is… unique
The distribution of IT jobs done by foreigners is different than that of Japanese engineers.
Historically, IT in Japan has been a different beast than in many other countries. They have unique positions like “SE” (system engineer) and a higher prominence of “SIers” (system integrators). There are fewer “in-house” engineers hired directly by companies so attitudes towards IT are different than places like the US.
Foreigners also tend to have different educational backgrounds.
For example, only 23% of Japanese engineers have related college degrees, compared to 72% for Indians and 44% of Americans. In the US (where I’m from), Computer Science is a top major that pays some of the highest salaries for new grads.
But in Japan, it’s still not as popular and the average salaries of CS graduates are pretty average. Plus as foreigners, we’re more likely to work at established, international companies and much less likely to work at small domestic startups (which tend to pay a bit less).
So how does this impact salaries?
It’s difficult to quantify, but one Japanese blogger says that companies should expect to pay an extra 1M JPY/year to hire a foreign developer over their Japanese counterpart at the same skill level. I have no idea if that’s accurate, but anecdotally, I’ve found that foreign developers earn a bit more on average (I’ll show some data to support this assertion in the next section).
And I think this makes sense when you consider the scarcity of foreigners here combined with the exceptional circumstances that tend to precede our hiring.
Alright, so country-wide salary data isn’t relevant for foreign engineers. In that case, where should you go to find salary ranges?
Japan developer salary resources
What follows is a data dump of resources with 25+ resources composing over 1,000 salary data points. Hopefully it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the ranges I present below really are achievable.
Keep in mind that not all of these include bonus and stock incentives, and many are aimed at Japanese developers.
I won’t provide specifics about every data point, but they should all be for software development roles or similar (e.g. backend, front-end, dev ops, iOS/Android, ML, data science etc).
I’ll provide links, so I highly recommend checking them out for more details.
Opensalary.jp is awesome. It’s a database of salary data uploaded anonymously by tech professionals in Japan.
It’s got 800+ data points, plus statistics broken down by company and years of experience. This data is super useful for getting an idea of the range for your chosen position.
Here are a few examples of salary data points:
|Overall median compensation||7.8M JPY|
|Google Japan||22M JPY|
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. I highly recommend checking out Opensalary.jp to see all of the data.
It’s one of the best resources there is for salary data in Japan.
2. Japan Dev
Excuse the plug (I built this one)… but Japan Dev has confirmed salary ranges for 100+ jobs.
Here are a few examples:
|Degica||Site Reliability Engineer||6M – 10M JPY|
|Socious||Lead Developer||10M – 20M JPY|
|Scoville||Full-stack Web Engineer||8M – 11M JPY|
|Colorkrew||UI/UX Designer||7M – 12M JPY|
|Money Forward||Tech Lead||7M – 15M JPY|
I verified 100% of these directly with the companies, so I can personally guarantee their accuracy.
Check out the Japan Dev Jobs Page for more jobs like these — and be sure to try the salary filters!
3. TokyoDev Developer Survey
Next up, we have another one of my favorites. Every year, Paul from TokyoDev releases a developer survey for Japan.
He shares insights on salaries based on hundreds of survey responses. The data’s hyper-focused on English-speaking developers in Japan, so I recommend taking a look.
Here are some examples of median salary based on role:
|Overall median||8.5M JPY|
|Engineering manager||12.5M JPY|
|Site Reliability Engineer||10.5M JPY|
|Mobile Developer||10.5M JPY|
|Back-end Developer||9.0M JPY|
Check out the latest TokyoDev Developer Survey to view all the data and insights!
Levels.fyi has tech salary data for the whole world. The amount of Japan data is limited, but it can be a great resource for big companies like Google.
It’s one of the few sites that break down compensation by base salary, stock, and bonus. It should help you get a feel for the ranges at top-paying companies in Japan.
Search for Japan (or Tokyo) to filter the data. Here are some data points for Japan:
|Indeed||12.2M – 23M JPY|
|11M – 30.8M JPY|
|Microsoft||11.9M – 16.7M JPY|
|Rakuten||4.2M – 13.1M JPY|
|Goldman Sachs||31.2M JPY|
|JPMorgan Chase||36.6M JPY|
|Amazon||13M – 21M JPY|
Blind is another great resource.
Sign up with your company email and you’ll get access to a vast database of salary information.
Again, there’s some great Japan content here but you need to search.
Here are a few data points I found (can’t link to them so you’ll have to trust me… or make an account yourself):
Some pretty impressive numbers here…
Blind is another great way to understand the ranges for top-tier international companies. And you can ask questions in their forums to connect with a network of developers.
6. Angel List
Angel List‘s job board has a pretty good selection of companies in Japan.
It’s focused on startups, and many of the positions include salary ranges. Here are a few examples of ranges from Angel List:
|Mujin||Computer Vision Engineer||7M – 15M JPY|
|Rapyuta Robotics||Site Reliability Engineer||7M – 9M JPY|
|Scalar||Software Engineer||7M – 10M JPY|
7. Official Company Career Pages
When I first moved to Japan, it was pretty rare for companies to share salaries in job descriptions.
Luckily for us, this has gotten a lot more common in the past few years. Here are some salary data points from companies who share them publicly:
|Fast Retailing||Data Scientist|
|Wovn Technologies||Backend Engineer|
|Japan Computer Vision||Senior Quality Engineer|
8. [JA] Project COMP
Project COMP is like Opensalary.jp, but it’s targeted toward Japanese developers.
They force you to sign up to view the data — and I recommend it — but here’s a sneak peek:
|Google Japan||21M JPY|
As you can see, pretty similar values to the above… definitely some patterns emerging. It looks like top Japanese companies like Mercari pay around 10M – 11M JPY in the average case. But then there are a few outliers paying 15M – 25M JPY (or more).
Check out Project COMP for more salary data, including breakdowns by years of experience.
9. [JA] OpenMoney.jp
OpenMoney.jp is yet another new Japanese salary aggregation service.
It’s not focused on developers, so the median salary data skews lower than other services that do. But there’s still some useful data to be found.
They require you to enter your own info to sign up to access the data. But here are a few examples:
This site also contains some more unique info for each person like age, amount of savings and more.
Check out OpenMoney.jp for more data on hundreds of companies.
10. [JA] Findy
Findy is a cool service.
Their site’s in Japanese, but it analyzes your Github profile to give you an expected salary range. They also match you with jobs based on your score.
I like it because there are so many data points, and many of them are for companies that most foreigners have never heard of.
And yet, many of them have competitive salary ranges. Findy’s data shows that it’s not just a few companies paying 10M JPY and up… it’s way more common than you might think.
|Ubie||6M – 12M JPY|
|Medpeer||5M – 12M JPY|
|GA technologies||5M – 9M JPY|
|MUGENUP||6M – 10M JPY|
|Medley||6M – 15M JPY|
|SmartHR||5M – 10M JPY|
|Repro||5.4M – 12M JPY|
|Open8||7M – 12M JPY|
|SmartDrive||6M – 10M JPY|
|Kokopelli||7M – 12M JPY|
|MNTSTQ||6.5M – 10M JPY|
|Freee||5M – 12M JPY|
Create an account with your Github account to see your personalized offers.
Or learn more about the company behind Findy HERE.
11. [JA] OpenWork
OpenWork (AKA “Vorkers”) is the closest equivalent to the Japanese Glassdoor.
Their database is massive, and it contains info on salary range, work-life-balance and more. It’s in Japanese, and they require you to either write a review yourself or pay a monthly fee to join… but here are some data points I grabbed previously that show the range at some well-known companies:
|Amazon (AWS)||13M JPY|
|Voyage Group||10M JPY|
|Goldman Sachs||15M JPY|
Sign up to view all the data today.
12. [JA] Job Draft
Job Draft is a super unique site. They make companies compete for applicants by making offers based on a candidate’s profile.
It’s in Japanese, and you need an account, but create one and you’ll get access to a goldmine of salary data.
Here are their ranges for a few top companies:
|Merpay||5.5M – 11.3M JPY|
|LINE||6.5M – 13M JPY|
|Recruit Lifestyle||6M – 10M JPY|
|Speee||5M – 15M JPY|
|DMM.com||6M – 12M JPY|
|LayerX||6M – 10M JPY|
|Works Applications||6M – 9M JPY|
|FreakOut||5M – 10M JPY|
Again. Tons of Japanese companies. Most paying median salaries of around 7M or 8M JPY. Many paying over 10M JPY on the upper range.
Are you starting to get a feel for the overall ranges? I hope so, but let’s keep going — I promised an ultimate guide and I intend to deliver on that promise.
13. [JA] Forkwell Jobs
Forkwell Jobs is another Japanese site with a treasure trove of salary data.
It requires an account, but I searched their open positions. At the time of writing, they have over 2,000 open jobs.
I sorted by “highest salary (lower range)”
There are 50+ pages, so over 750 jobs paying a minimum of 5.5M JPY a year.
Here’s a small preview of the data:
|Timee||Backend Tech Lead||9M – 14M JPY|
|Persol||SRE||9M – 12M JPY|
|Ubiregi||iOS Engineer||9M – 15M JPY|
|Mirrativ||Engineering Manager||9M – 15M JPY|
|Progate||Front-end Engineer||7M – 10M JPY|
|Study Plus||Senior Application Engineer||7M – 9M JPY|
Forkwell is a Japanese site so a lot of their jobs require Japanese skills, but some don’t.
Even so, they have a huge amount of salary data, so I recommend taking a look.
14. [JA] Green Japan
Green Japan is one of the biggest Japanese job boards for tech positions.
I filtered by jobs that can pay over 8M JPY and there were 4,762 results… somehow even more than Forkwell.
Here are a few examples:
|Uzabase||Internal System Engineer||6M – 12M JPY|
|Style Free||Front End Engineer||4M – 12M JPY|
|Spice Factory||Rails Engineer||6M – 8M JPY|
|Trustdock||Server-side Engineer||6M – 9M JPY|
Takeaway: there are hundreds, if not thousands of Japanese companies paying engineers 5-10M JPY a year or more. Including some you’ve never heard of.
Salaries in this range are not uncommon.
15. [JA] StudentSalary
StudentSalary is a Japanese site focused on internship compensation for students.
Their data is in the form of hourly wages. It covers some well-known companies so I recommend this site for anyone who wants to work while still in school.