Working in Japan

Freelance engineer & programmer in Japan – How to find Jobs (5 ways)

If you have skill of engineering or programming, you will find jobs almost everywhere you like. This is the same if you want to move and live in Japan as engineer. The demand of engineer and programmer is quite huge in Japan because the labor is simply in shortage. In this article you will learn how much income you can expect, complete guide how to find jobs and what type of person is liked and keep getting jobs in this Japanese industry.

Can a freelance engineer earn more than fulltime engineer?

The answer is yes in most cases. The reason is you have chance to get paid commensurately with your skill. If you are an employee, the company pays you the monthly salary. So even if you have a great skill, you can often only receive the salary within the regulation. As freelancer you will be able to earn per project and have chance to negotiate with clients directly.

The second reason why you could earn more than fulltime: if you have passion, you can increase number of projects as you like and get more reward.

The third reason is that you can concentrate on the projects. As employee, whether or not you like or dislike, there are always tasks that are not related to engineering or even unnecessary. As freelancer you can choose jobs that you can work on with more motivation.

200 DegreesによるPixabayからの画像

Annual income for each type of engineer

Of course, there are different fields for an engineer, and the income is various in each field. So, let’s look at annual income one by one.

System engineer

Annual income from 7 to 10 million yen. Average annual income for an engineer as employee of a company is around 6 million yen. So, freelancers obviously earn more in average.


Annual income is around 6 million yen. For a programmer as an employee is around 5 million yen in average. So again, freelancers are in better position regarding income. Thus, the annual income for a programmer is very much depending on your skill, and the level of a project. So, you have chance to get much more than 6 million yen.

Network engineer

Annual income from 6 to 7 million yen. One of the characteristics is you are often required to stay at a company, and it can easily extend to long-term projects. So, stability is one of the advantages for a freelance network engineer.

Web engineer

The average annual income of a freelance web engineer is about 5 to 7 million yen. Nowadays various web systems such as online media have appeared, that is why web engineers are a very demanding job.

Therefore, there is always a shortage of human resources, and even if you become freelance, you can easily find a job with a high unit price.

Many people challenge web engineers from inexperienced, and there is also a way to start from programming as a side job.

Bridge SE

The average annual income of a freelance bridge SE is about 5 to 8 million yen. Among freelance IT engineers, Bridge SE tends to have a high annual income.

In addition to engineers who generally develop systems, this has the role of bridging foreign companies and Japanese companies, and requires more diverse skills and qualities such as language skills, understanding of local culture, and cross-cultural communication.

Thus, foreign-affiliated companies where Bridge SE is often active and collaborative projects with overseas often have high remuneration on average, which is also related to the high average annual income. There are many freelance bridge SEs whose annual income exceeds 10 million yen, depending on company, individual skills, and experience.

Other type of freelance engineer:

  • Freelance markup / front-end engineer: 5 million yen
  • Control engineer                                : 6 million yen
  • Test-Engineer                                    : 4 to 5 million yen

How to find job

Now, let’s check out one of the most important point you should check. Below is the list what kind of chance you have for finding jobs.

  • Recruiting site
  • Introduction from acquaintances
  • Sales partner
  • Blog
  • Sales by yourself

Recruiting site

This is the most standard way to find a job. If you for example work now as an engineer, and has experience for more than 2 years, you will be able to get jobs with high rewards.

Introduction from acquaintances

Birds of a feather flock together – Freelancer knows lots of freelancers around. And they are passing the projects and job opportunities each other.

If you are new in Japan, you don’t know anybody in the same field. In this case utilize all social media account. Find someone working as freelancer in a similar field, send him a message. Or you can go to events. Then you will expand your network step by step even in Japan.

mohamed HassanによるPixabayからの画像

Sales partner

It is like evolutional version of “introduction from acquaintances”. Ask somebody like “If you can introduce me and I could get the job, I will pay you for the introduction.”. You don’t need to make any contract. Just verbal communication should be enough. For example, even if you are not confident to do sales yourself, even if you are not good at sales, even if you can’t speak Japanese, that someone can do the sales for you. This person should be good at sales of course.

What kind of person you should choose as partner?

  • Salesman of a production company
  • Salesman of insurance
  • President of a small‐to‐medium‐sized enterprise

In short, people who have the opportunity to meet various people on a daily basis.

In case of salesman of a production company, he sometimes knows some jobs that is not undertaken by the company because it is too small or not profitable enough. He might pass that kind of jobs to you.

Be ready to pay 15% of the total reward you get from the job. Then the partner will be happy and willingly pass opportunities to you.

mohamed HassanによるPixabayからの画像


It takes plenty of time until you get enough traffic and find connection.

The reason why blog takes time. It’s not easy to write lots of articles. You need to be really patient until you achieve success. And if your articles are not read, you have nothing in your hand.

Sales by yourself

There are only few freelance engineers who really do the sales by yourself. So, you have good chance, if you can do that. But how? You will find the answer below.

Send messages to production companies. It is more than enough at first stage. Production companies always have some projects that are not for the company due to the following reasons: A) the project is too small, B) it doesn’t bring enough profit, C) manpower is in shortage. If you find 3 production companies that willingly pass jobs to you, then your monthly income will be 500.000 yen. Also, completely remote working.

What kind of freelancer does not have trouble with getting jobs

These 3 characteristics are the key when you want to be fixed for jobs.

  1. Prove your high skill
  2. Trusted by friends / clients
  3. Having a self-made service

Prove your high skill

In short, promote yourself. Even if you are excellent engineer, nobody will notice until you promote it. See below how you can promote your skill.

  • Summarize what you are studying on Github
  • Create your own service and spread it on social media accounts
  • Disseminate your technical information on blogs

It’s costly to do above things. But unless you do communicate, no one can find you. After continuous communication and your name is well-known for the excellent skill, you will get jobs automatically.

Trusted by friends / clients

This part is really important when you want to work in Japan. Even if your skill is perfect, nobody will give you tasks if you are not trusted.

What you should be aware of in order to be trusted by Japanese clients

  • Quick response
  • Keep the deadline
  • Your skill is good enough
  • Be thoughtful
  • Do careful work

“Be thoughtful” and “Do careful work” are really meaningful and appreciated in Japan. Japanese people are also aware that they are more thoughtful and delivering more careful work than foreigners. This is exactly what Japanese people are good at. So, our usual expectation to foreigners regarding these two points are rather low. This means you have a huge chance to change their mind. The hurdle for you is much lower than Japanese. Deliver a careful and delicate work, be thoughtful, try what your clients wish from you and realize it.

Having a self-made service

Freelancers who has full of work are normally excellent, and the reason why they are excellent is that they have something in common: they like technology.

In addition to studying and learning, many people understand that technology is a tool and use the technology they have learned to create their own services.

Self-made services are a complete proof of your skill, and if the service becomes popular, it will be your great achievement. There is no way not to make it.

Again, you don’t have do all the steps I introduced today. Basically, engineer is in shortage in Japan. So, if you provide proper work, average work and appropriate communication, then you have no worry about money and jobs.

Yuki Nagahori
BA in German / Japan Country Manager at editorial company → Sales → currently sales planner based in Hamburg, Germany