If you’re looking for a way to stay and work in Japan for a long time, consider becoming a care worker. Japan is experiencing a “super-aging” society, meaning that the senior population is increasing faster than the youth population can keep up. Unfortunately, this also means that there aren’t enough care workers to look after the growing senior population. Realizing this, Japan has started looking at foreign talent as a way of boosting care worker numbers. This article details what it’ll take for you to become a care worker in Japan.
The Nursing Care Industry in Japan
Japan was confirmed to have the world’s oldest population in a 2018 survey. Knowing that there weren’t enough care workers to take care of the aging population, in April 2019, the Japanese government launched the Specified Skills visa to allow skilled foreign workers to come into Japan and fill in the gap.
4 Ways You Can Work in Japan as a Care Worker
There are currently four different ways that a foreigner can become a care worker in Japan. Below, we introduce each of the methods.
① Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)
Japan currently has an EPA with Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, where citizens of these three countries are allowed to enter and work in Japan as care workers. People who want to utilize this must meet certain criteria, such as having nursing care knowledge and experience in their home country as well as some knowledge of Japanese (N5+ for Indonesia and the Philippines, N3+ for Vietnam). Once they enter Japan, they must study Japanese and undergo nursing-care training before they can be employed at an elderly care facility. After four years, they need to take and pass a national exam to become a certified care worker in order to keep living and working in Japan.
② Care Worker Visa
International students who graduate from a care worker training school in Japan and obtain a nursing care certification are eligible for a Care Worker visa. As long as you make sure to renew it before it expires, you can live and work in Japan for as long as you like. Some schools even allow you to work part-time while studying!
To enter a care worker training school, you must have at least N2 in the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).
③ Technical Intern Training Program
The purpose of this program is to foster international cooperation by providing practical opportunities to transfer Japanese skills and knowledge in various industries to developing countries.
After entering Japan, technical interns must take classes in Japanese and nursing care while working at a senior care facility. A year into the program, they must pass exams that will test both their knowledge and practical skills to earn the right to stay for another two years; a second test during their third year on their practical skills allows them one final two-year stretch. After the complete five-year program, they must return to their home countries.
If a technical intern wants to stay in Japan even after their fifth year, they can become certified as a care worker, allowing them to change to a Care Worker visa. Additionally, technical interns who successfully finish their third year of training in Japan are exempted from needing to take the exams for the Specified Skilled Worker (i) visa (see below).
④ Specified Skilled Worker (i) Visa
Launched in April 2019, this new program allows those who have passed exams showing that they possess a certain level of Japanese and nursing care knowledge and skills to come into Japan. Once they enter Japan, they must work at a senior care facility for five years and become a certified care worker. If they can become certified, they can switch over to a Care Worker visa in order to continue living and working in Japan. Otherwise, they must return to their home countries.
More on the Specified Skilled Worker (i) Visa
Since the Specified Skilled Worker (i) visa is so new, we’re going to go into more detail on what exams you need to take in order to qualify for it. You will need to take three exams: 1) Nursing care skills evaluation test, 2) Japanese language exam (either the Japan Foundation Test for Basic Japanese (JFT-Basic) or N4 of the JLPT), 3) Nursing care Japanese language evaluation test
① Nursing Care Skills Evaluation Test
●Number of questions: 45
●Exam duration: 1 hour
●Exam cost: Around 1,000 yen
－Written exam: 40 questions
1. Fundamentals of care (10 questions)
2. Mechanisms of the mind and the body (6 questions)
3. Communication skills (4 questions)
4. Physical care (20 questions)
－Practical exam: 5 questions (items that test decision-making, etc.)
●Official website: https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/newpage_000117702.html (English language towards the bottom)
② Japan Language Foundation Test for Basic Japanese (JFT-Basic)
●Number of questions: Around 60
●Exam duration: 1 hour
Divided into four sections: Script and Vocabulary, Conversation and Expression, Listening Comprehension, and Reading Comprehension
Mongolia: MNT 78,000 / Indonesia: IDR 400,000 / Cambodia: USD $22 / Thailand: THB 1,000 / Philippines: PHP 1,500 / Nepal: NPR 2,500 / Vietnam & Myanmar: TBA
●Sample questions: https://www.jpf.go.jp/jft-basic/sample/q01.html
●Official website: https://www.jpf.go.jp/jft-basic/index.html
② Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT N4)
●Exam duration: Language Knowledge (Vocabulary): 30 minutes / Language Knowledge (Grammar)+Reading: 60 minutes / Listening: 35 minutes
●Exam cost: 5,500 yen
●Sample questions: https://www.jlpt.jp/samples/pdf/N4-mondai.pdf
●Official website: https://www.jlpt.jp/index.html
Simplified Chinese: https://www.jlpt.jp/cn/index.html
Traditional Chinese: https://www.jlpt.jp/tw/index.html
③ Nursing Care Japanese Language Evaluation Test
●Number of questions: 15
●Exam duration: 30 minutes
●Exam cost: Around 1,000 yen
・Technical terms of care work (5 questions)
・Communications in care work (5 questions)
・Documents of care work (5 questions)
Official Website: https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/newpage_000117702.html
Revision Materials for the Nursing Care Skills Evaluation Test and Nursing Care Japanese Language Evaluation Test (① and ③ above)
How to Register for the Tests
Nursing Care Skills Evaluation Test and Nursing Care Japanese Language Evaluation Test (① and ③ above)
■How to Register
1. Register a Prometric account: http://ac.prometric-jp.com/testlist/nc/nursingcare_japan.html
*Prometric is the company that conducts these exams. You must have an account in order to successfully register for the tests.
2. Log into your Prometric account and book a test.
Select the test date and location. If you will be taking the test in Japan, accept their Terms and Conditions and upload a face photo.
3. Pay the exam fee by credit card or voucher.
4. Print out the proof of booking and bring it with you on the exam date.
■Exam Schedule (Overseas)
■Exam Schedule (Japan)
Japan Language Foundation Test for Basic Japanese (JFT-Basic; ② above)
■How to Register
1. Register for a Prometric account.
2. Accept the Terms and Conditions, insert any additional personal details that they ask for, and select your preferred test date and location.
3. Insert your credit card information if you plan to pay by credit card. If you have a voucher, enter the voucher number and expiry date. Please keep in mind that if you plan to pay by cash, you’ll have to purchase a voucher at the exam location.
■Exam Schedule (differs by country)
There are four different ways one can become a care worker in Japan. Your route will differ depending on whether you’re presently in Japan, Japanese level, experience in the field, and so on. So, use this article as a reference to map out your path to becoming a care worker in Japan. It’s a rewarding and essential job, especially now when Japan’s population is aging faster than ever before.
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By the way, if you're looking for a job or career change and you're already in Japan, we now have a jobs site called tsunagu Local Jobs! On top of having exclusive job listings that you won't find anywhere else, we've vetted all the listings to ensure that they're foreigner-friendly and high quality. If you register for an account on the site, you can even make use of our agent service where our international staff will help you find the perfect job in Japan, so check it out today!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.