I get a lot of mail from readers in India, wondering how to come and work in Japan. Here is one such recent letter from a young woman with a Commerce degree.

S.B: I first developed an interest in Japan when I started learning the language several years ago and have passed the JLPT 4-kyu and 3-kyu tests. I want to progress on, but have realized that to get any better, I need to go to Japan. The problem is that attending a Japanese university is beyond my financial means, so I would like to “earn and learn” at the same time. Is this possible? Also, can you tell me how much you charge for such consulting?

Advise from Terrie Lloyd:

I don’t charge to provide advice as it’s part of the DaiJob.com service – we just ask that you tell your friends about our web site ;-).

There are options for “learning and earning” for certain nationalities, such as the working holiday programs between Japan and Australia, New Zealand, UK, and Canada, but unfortunately India is not part of this program.

There is also the Japan English Teachers (JET) program run by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology – see the web site at http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/jet/outline.html. But again, even though India is listed as being one of the countries eligible to send JETs, the practical fact is that I have never seen an Indian JET (although I’m sure some exist), and thus, the program appears to limit the nationals of a small number of countries. In any case, you should call the Japanese embassy in New Delhi to confirm JETs are being recruited in India at this time – I suspect that they may not be.

So, how do you get to Japan? Well, you can try the academic route, which is to apply for a Monbusho scholarship. Competition for such awards is fierce, but very beneficial if you are successful. Many of the most accomplished foreign professionals I know in Japan originally came on Monbusho programs – and I can tell you that by the time they finish, their Japanese capabilities are superb!

If the academic route isn’t for you, I have one other idea – but it will require you to enter the software field – not as a programmer but as a specifications developer. As you may know, recently in Japan, Indian software outsourcing companies have been doing a roaring trade – thanks to superior enterprise systems know-how and price competitiveness. When companies such as Tata Consulting Services, HCL, Wipro, Satyam, Mascot, Convansys, Mastek, Infosys and others win a contract with a Japanese company to produce software for them, they get all the specifications from their clients in Japanese, then translate them and write them up in English, ready for processing and programming by the folks back in India. This conversion of a Japanese client’s needs into an English-language document usable by a programmer is a difficult job and there is always a shortage of people to do such work.

Of course, in order to get this type of job you will need to learn something about computer software – but because the work is more communications oriented than having to design databases, your depth of technical knowledge doesn’t have to be so thorough. Rather, it will be your language skills and your knowledge of business (thanks to your commerce degree) that will be important.

Anyway, I suggest that you contact one of the above companies, and do a web search for others that might be active here in Japan. A web site that might come in useful to do your search is the India IT Satellite web site at http://www.jcci.or.jp/indoit/e/index.html. I can’t promise that these companies will be interested, but I do know that there is a continual shortage of bilingual people with a technical communications bent.

Good luck!

If you need some advice in finding the right job, you can drop Terrie Lloyd an email for more advice at terrie.lloyd@daijob.com. You can also see his weekly newsletter, called Terrie’s Take, at http://www.terrielloyd.com/terries-take/