Career Guide

Japanese Translation Jobs

Japanese Translation Jobs

Many of you may have got in touch with translated works such as subtitles and dubbed voices for foreign movies. However, as there is less opportunity to see job descriptions for translators on job search websites, it is difficult to image how to be a translator and what do they do specifically. The target language is not only English. Also, there are various kinds of subjects such as literal novels, business documents, and movies.

This article will introduce three categories of work contents for translators, then, explain how to work as a Japanese translator, required skills, working styles, salary, and how to find translation jobs. If you are interested in translating and want to work as a Japanese translator, please use this article as a reference.

What is a Japanese translation job?

Japanese translation is to convert one foreign language into Japanese or vice versa with accuracy. The main target language is English, but also there are many other languages such as French, German, Chinese, and Arabic. There are three categories of translation.

Literary translation

This is about translating published books such as novels, non-fiction stories, magazines, and so on, which is also called publishing translation. It needs high language ability of both target language and Japanese to translate in appropriate expressions by grasping the themes and ideas of the works.

Practical business translation

This is about translating manuals, contracts, academic books which are needed in business, which is also called industrial translation. It requires basic language skills and also needs to know specific vocabularies which differ from industry to industry. Therefore, you need to be an expert in particular industry such as IT, medical care, finance, and so on.

Video translation

This is about translating voices into lines for dubbing and subtitles in video works such as films, dramas, documentaries. You will translate refering to the script and video. You have to make dubbing lines and subtitles clear and simple for audiences to listen and read quickly and easy to understand.

How to become a Japanese translator?

Here will be explanations about required skills and qualifications to become a translator, and typical ways to get translation jobs.

What kind of skills are required?

Japanese translators need not only ability of handling foreign languages, but also Japanese language ability to translate foreign language into appropriate Japanese sentences. In the case of literary translation and video translation, ability to express Japanese is especially important, so you need to develop not only foreign languages but also Japanese skills. Furthermore, if you understand foreign culture, history, and lifestyle, your translation level would be higher. It is also recommended to study abroad or learn local culture to improve your translation skills.

You may think translation only about English, but nowadays the demand on Asian languages such as Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese become higher and higher. Therefore, it is also good to aim to become a translator in the language you are interested in, not just English.


There is no essential qualification required to work as a translator in Japan. However, you cannot do translation work without language skills. Therefore, many people become a translator after studying in foreign language department at an university or junior college or technical school for translation. Though the qualification is not necessary, a score of TOEIC or grade of English proficiency test can prove your language ability. In addition, there is a qualification of translation named "Certified Professional Translator" provided by Japan Translation Association. It is also recommended to aim to get qualifications to take advantage in job hunting and to confirm your own ability.

Typical ways to get translation jobs in Japan

For the literary translation, there are ways to bring your work to publishing companies and to join contests. It takes many years to become independent as a translator.

If you want to do practical business translation, there are ways to apply for and get a job in a company with translation business or to register with a translation company and receive orders from them.

For the video translation, there are ways to get jobs from film production companies or to aim for debut by gaining experience following professional translators. You may start working as a part-timer in a film production company. It also takes long time to become independent as a professional translator.

How do translators work in Japan?

There are four ways to work as a translator in Japan, finding a part-time job or dispatch work of translation, getting a job in a company's translation department, and registering with a translation company and working as a freelancer.

Part-time worker

You can find and apply for part-time translation jobs on the job search websites. The working contents are relatively simple like e-mail translation, so you can start out easily like working from one day per week to all your free time and so on.

Dispatch worker

You can also work as a dispatch worker. There is a way to register with human resource dispatch company and to work for a company with translation department.

Regular employee in a company

It would be relatively easy to get a job offer for practical business translation as a regular employee because there is high demand from companies. Especially, there are many job offers from foreign companies, trading companies, patent-related companies, etc.


Many translators work as freelancers. You can register with a translation company and working as a freelancer. Usually a translation company has a trial system and if you could pass it, you can receive an order of translation job. Freelancers work individually, so they need to manage their scheduling by themselves. The amount of work changes depending on your ability, so it is important to gain the trust by keeping high quality of works.

Translator's salary & annual income in Japan

The salary of translators differs greatly from individual to individual, and also changes depending on how you work. Basically, it depends on individual ability and work contents.

In the case of practical business translation, people often work as an employee in a company, so they are treated as a regular employee, which means that there is possibility to receive employee benefits such as bonus and a rise of salary. The quality of translation and whether they have several years of practical experiences in the field or not also influence the salary. In general, their annual income is around 3 to 5 million yen.

In the case of freelance, income is determined by multiplying the number of characters to translate by the unit price. The unit price tends to be high in the field which requires specialization such as medicine, finance, and industrial technology. It is about 30 to 50 yen per character for English-Japanese translation and about 35 to 70 yen for Japanese-English translation. The annual income differs greatly depending on their workload and skills. There are translators who earn more than 10 million yen in a year, but on the other hand, there are people who earn about 50 thousand yen in a month as a side business or pocket money.

How to find translation job in Japan?

There are many job search websites in Japan and you can find job descriptions of translation on the internet. Here are suggestions for searching Japanese translation jobs.

Job serch websites in Japan

We will introduce Quick Jobs Japan, which is an excellent job search website for foreigners who want to work in Japan. It posts over 10,000 part-time jobs from more than 300 companies. You can easily find ideal jobs and apply quickly by simple steps. You may also find translation jobs in which you can use language abilities and so on.


It is an administrative organization which is established by the government to maintain stable employment opportunities for people in Japan. They also support employment of foreigners and posting many kinds of jobs on the internet. You can consult about working in Japan whenever you want.

In addition, it is good to go to vocational school for not only learning language, but also, finding a job smoothly as vocational translation schools will support job hunting and recommend you to companies.


In translation, there are many kinds of languages and the work contents are different in categories such as literary translation, practical business translation, and video translation. The demand on talents with language skills is increasing because of globalization. If you are interested in translation work, please give it a try.