Career Options Involving Japanese

Q: Hello! My name is Kelli. I am from the United States and am in Grade 11 in high school. Before I ask my questions, I would like to thank both you and your website for aiding me and inspiring me to continue teaching myself Japanese, even when I doubt my ability to do so. Once again, many thanks! Keep up the good work!


As I approach the middle of Grade 11, I am aware that I have many decisions before me. My major, the colleges I wish to apply to, and my career are the primary decisions I must make. I know that I would love to study Japanese in college, and to study abroad would be a dream come true. My question regards career choices that involve the Japanese language. What is a good career that includes history, writing, education, culture, or a combination of all three? Any advice for the prospective Japanese student? Many, many thanks for your time and advice!
Best wishes,
Kelli

A: Hi Kelli,

Thank you for the nice words and it’s fantastic to see your enthusiasm!

With regards careers, if you speak really, really fluent Japanese then you could feasibly get a job in Japan with any field.  Or if you only get so far with the language then any company back home that still deals with Japan will see having Japanese as a big plus. (Also remember most companies have moved on to working with China now though!)

Personally though I always recommend young people to go down the entrepreneur route, rather than finding a job, you actually “make” your own ideal job.  It’s a lot more secure and if you have the “get up and go” you get to control exactly what you do each day and where you do it e.g. I work half the year in Japan, and half the year in other places – I’m currently in New Zealand as the Summer here is much better than the Japanese winter! :)  I have a site with ideas for that at http://www.locationfreelifestyle.com/

With regards the university course, rather than studying a language at a university in your own country (which to be honest from what I’ve seen probably won’t make you that good of a speaker, even though you will know all the kanji!)  what I would *always* recommend is to study a totally different subject, but study it in Japan.

It is much harder to get in to courses like this, but at the end of the day you will be totally fluent in Japanese – because you’ve been doing it all day everyday – and you get a degree in another subject as a bonus.

Yes it is the harder path, but it’s what I did ( I studied physics in France) and all the people I know who have done this have achieved far more than those who studied language at home!

But of course, this is just my experience, so listen to lots of other people, really think about your future and all the dreams you want to make come true ( remember to dream big!) and take the time to think which is the best option for you.

Good luck and be genki!

Richard

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