Life in Japan

Salaries in Japan

3 May 2016

The other day when I was out with my Japanese friends, we touched on the topic of salaries in Japan. One of my friends works as a realtor, and in Japan, many Japanese rent because they may not be from the area (e.g. originally from Hokkaido, now working in Tokyo). And to rent, they will need to provide an official document from the government detailing the income for the year, etc. so as to prove they can afford the rent.

She has seen countless income slips in her years working as a realtor, and shared with us some interesting things she has witnessed in her time.

Note: 100 yen is converted to $1. Not based on forex rates, but on the similar value of 100 yen in Japan and $1 in Singapore (and also because it’s simpler to calculate)

The most surprising thing I learned was about nurses. She said it’s the kind of job which will light up men’s eyes if they hear it. Light up with dollar yen signs, that is lol. She has seen nurses earn up to $80,000!!! although the average is about $60-80k. This was particularly surprising because in Singapore, we never think of nursing as a field that earns a lot of money. But perhaps it’s because Japan has a unique situation because of the language barrier, so I guess they have to pay well to attract people.

Then I asked her what kind of job will make women go ¥_¥? (those are yen-signed-eyes btw) She said any job that will earn a lot. -_- I had to rephrase my question since what I wanted to know was what jobs in Japan are typically thought to be high-paying. She said lawyers and doctors, and went on to quote that she once had a lawyer customer who earned 15 million. That’s $150,000!!! And he was FRESH OUT OF SCHOOL. Pretty sure that was some super star student. And a bloody rich firm. 150k! Damn.

In general, she said that most fresh graduates start off with an annual salary of about $30k; it stabilizes around $40-50k for women, and around 60k for men.

Although statistically skewed and insignificant (since she is only commenting on what she has seen) I thought it was still interesting and a bit more real than some run-of-the-mill “Average annual salaries in Japan” report. Hopefully you found it interesting too!

Random fun fact: Working part-time in McDonald’s pays $8-$10 per hour, depending on location.

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