Top 10 Highest-Paying Jobs in Japan

Illustration of Tokyo's skyline with a backdrop of the Japanese flag and a building that shows three employees working at their desks

Japan is a country of immense diversity, from ancient buildings dating back hundreds of years to the metropolitan lifestyle offered in its highly populated cities. Fads, technology and infrastructure are constantly shifting, and the country is continually pushing boundaries in terms of innovation.

Aside from its magnificent culture and history, the country is also widely known for its excellent career prospects. 

Working in Japan is certainly a unique experience, and when it comes to high-paying jobs, there are plenty of opportunities for foreigners and locals alike. Indeed, if you possess the right skills and qualifications, you could find yourself in a lucrative job role. 

So, without further ado, here are the top highest-paying jobs in Japan.

10. Business development director

Average annual salary: ¥13,500,000 ($123,839 / £89,250)

Whether the role is in digital media, technology or television, a business development director is responsible for driving the business forward and increasing revenues.

This top paying role, which is typically higher up the corporate ladder when compared with sales or operations manager roles, involves directly collaborating with the board of directors to develop strategies, fine-tune tasks, align departments and understand legal matters.

Bear in mind that depending on the company you work for, you may need to be fluent in Japanese and English and have prior experience working in business, sales or technology in Japan.

9. Country manager

Average annual salary: ¥14,900,000 ($136,675 / £98,505)

A country manager is responsible for representing a company in a foreign country. This is a vital role in Japan, where communication and cultural awareness are fundamental for the success of an organisation.

To succeed within the role of country manager, you must have outstanding interpersonal skills, as you will need to integrate seamlessly within the team to run efficient operations.

You must also have a deep cultural awareness of Japan and its business ethics, which will help you develop and lead the company in the right direction.

8. Operations director

 Average annual salary: ¥14,950,000 ($137,135 / £98,840)

The role of an operations director is pivotal to the success of any business. With often an attractive remuneration package, it comes as no surprise that this is one of Japan’s most popular and highly sought-after roles.

While responsibilities differ depending on the type and size of the business, operations directors must generally oversee every operational aspect of a company and its strategy and relay information and updates to its chief executives.

Aside from a degree and relevant professional qualifications, operations directors must have extensive industry experience and exhaustive knowledge of different business functions and principles. 

5. Sales director (tie)

Average annual salary: ¥15,000,000 ($137,620 / £99,170)

Many Japanese firms turn their sights to the global marketplace, from the smallest businesses to some of the biggest companies in Japan

A sales director is responsible for developing sales networks and partnerships, managing direct sales and contributing to marketing strategies.

To succeed in this role, you need excellent communication skills, thorough knowledge of the product or service you’re selling, the ability to leverage technology to remain ahead of the competition, and, of course, persistence.

5. Senior marketing manager (tie)

Average annual salary: ¥15,000,000 ($137,620 / £99,170)

With technology evolving at such a rapid pace, it comes as no surprise that this is one of the highest-paying jobs in the world. In recent years, senior marketing roles have seen a huge increase in demand due to a shift in consumer behaviour. 

A senior marketing manager oversees market planning and product development, ensuring that the brand’s marketing strategies are hitting the right target audience.

So, if you’ve got excellent communication skills, strong attention to detail, creativity, commercial awareness and good organisation skills, then a senior marketing manager in Japan could be the role for you. 

In many companies, you’ll also benefit from paid healthcare, paid overtime, reimbursed commuting expenses and more.  

5. Chief financial officer (tie)

Average annual salary: ¥15,000,000 ($137,620 / £99,170)

A chief financial officer (CFO) in Japan is a highly lucrative role that’s well-worth pursuing if you’re sharp with numbers and possess financial leadership skills.

If you successfully land this role, you will be responsible for the company’s accounting and treasury activities and its budget management, spending, and revenue. What is more, CFOs support the business in taking actions for profitability improvement.

4. HR vice president

Average annual salary: ¥15,500,000 ($142,205 / £102,500)

The vice president of HR is responsible for facilitating operations within the company’s human resources department.

VPs of HR must oversee contracts, create strategic staffing plans, develop written policies, develop training programmes, monitor compliance and much more.

Such a role in Japan requires knowledge of legal areas, equal opportunity, health and safety, taxes, retirement and pension plans, and wages and compensation. A bachelor’s degree in a related field is a minimum requirement, though a master’s degree is typically a prerequisite.

This is a rewarding role that requires creativity, leadership, communication, conflict resolution and problem-solving skills.

3. Executive director

Average annual salary: ¥16,200,000 ($148,640 / £107,120)

An executive director is an esteemed role involving a great deal of responsibility. Such a role entails managing company assets, establishing business goals and optimising financial operations.

Executive directors need good leadership skills and an entrepreneurial spirit in order to successfully streamline operations and drive a business forward. So, if you’re looking to become an executive in Japan, be sure you possess the right qualifications and skills to establish your career.

2. Neurosurgeon

Average annual salary: ¥20,350,000 ($186,735 / £134,570)

This role is in high demand across the world, including in Japan.

To become a doctor, you need a bachelor’s degree in medicine or a related field, followed by an MD and a residency. In order to become a neurosurgeon, you would also need to specialise in neurology and neuroscience.

After obtaining experience in your country, you would then be able to apply for a job at a hospital in Japan. However, you will likely need to be fluent in Japanese to be eligible for this role.

If you are still a student, you could consider applying for a scholarship at a Japanese institution, which will include taking an intensive Japanese language course.

While this is one of the best-paid jobs in Japan, neurosurgeons need an immense level of manual dexterity, exceptional hand-eye coordination, and high physical stamina.

1. Chief executive officer

Average annual salary: ¥21,600,000 ($198,220 / £142,850)

This is a high-power role that holds the responsibility for the success or failure of an entire organisation. 

Due to the nature and impact of this role, you may need to be proficient in Japanese. You will also need extensive experience in your industry, high awareness of business etiquette as well as a solid understanding of cultural norms and customs to succeed in this complex corporate setting.

With its competitive talent market and excellent employee benefits, seeking employment opportunities in Japan is certainly worthwhile.

 In return, you’ll benefit from job security, good insurance, paid leave and much more.

Have you ever worked in Japan? How did you find the experience? Let us know in the comments below!


Salary information is based on data compiled and published by PayScale. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 28 April 2021.

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 13 December 2016.