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Chemistry-related jobs in Japan

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Aug 27, 2017
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Hi,
I´m 17 years old and get to do my A-levels next summer.
Though I´m Korean, I´ve lived in Germany 99% of my life and barely speak any Korean at all.
I´m fluent in German tho.
I´ve always been fascinated by Japan since as a Korean I often get to hear interesting things about Japan.
One of my big interests would be to work there. Maybe even moving there if I happen to like it in Japan.
Though that could change by the time I get my first impression of Japan by actually going there.

Nevertheless I was curious as to what jobs foreigners get and how hard it is to move there.
Even though I don´t speak Japanese at all I´m pretty determined to learn Japanese (my mother would be ready to help me since she studied Japanese a couple of years ago) since I´m planning to visit Japan soon after my A-levels.

After reading a couple of blogs, articles (some on this site too) etc I got the impression that most foreigners tend to aim for English-teaching jobs in schools.
Some say that it´s pretty easy to get a job as an English teacher, others say that it´s quite a challenge.

Regarding that some of those comments date a couple years back and some are quite up to date I´m confused as to how the situation is at the moment and how it could possibly turn out to be in the future.

For example,
I´ve read that the interest in English spiked again due to the Summer-olympics 2020 being held in Japan.
A few minutes later I read that getting a job as an English-teacher is a going to be very hard in the near future because of the sheer mass of applications and the comparably high requirements.
Also having read that Japan prefers native english speakers over others and with it also higher requirements sound not very promising.

I would say I´m not bad in English having recieved straight A´s or A- for the last 2 years (and probably because I spend waaaaayyyy too much time on the internet hehe) but it´s definitely not my main interest.
But I´m also well aware that those grades don´t have a lot of meaning when it comes to studying English and that it´s a completely different league.
In addition to that my main interest is not English but chemistry and biology.

Of course I´ve read what opportunities foreign chemists/ biologists have but so far it doesn´t look too bright.
Chemistry/Biology doesn´t seem to be a field which lackes workforces.
IT and English teaching are far higher up the list.
Also that most chemists and biologists are expected to have a PhD to even be looked at chips away at my motivation.
I´ve even looked up TEACHING chemistry or biology but that doesn´t seem to be a viable option as well.
But I still have a lot of unanswered questions.
Germany having the worldlargest chemistry-industry what opportunities do I have here?
I´ve read about people working in companies which have workplaces in multiple countries and therefore having transferred to different countries to work there.
One example being the BASF which has more than a couple facilities in Japan.
Are there other things I can do in Japan (if possible chemistry/biology related)

It seems to me that I´ve exhausted google about those topics or I´m asking to specific questions (probably both) and I hope to find new things here.

I´d love to hear about what other options there are or experiences, recommendations,
anything would be fine.

Sorry if your eyes ended up sore and burning after reading this much text xD.
 
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My compliments on your excellent English ability. I take it that it's the result of a good education in Germany.

Yes, most foreigners land jobs as English teachers. All they need is a bachelor's degree (no specific major required) for a work visa, or in the case of those who qualify for working holiday visas, no degree is needed at all. Overall requirements for teaching entry level jobs are pretty minimal. If you actually want to teach in HS, not be an ALT, you'll need to go through the Japanese system to get the proper degree here. If you want to teach in university, you'll need at least a master's degree in your field or something darned close. Uni jobs also usually require at least 3 publications and some level of Japanese ability. Conditions vary widely.

As a Korean, you'll need to show a certain level of English in order to teach it. That usually means a certain TOEIC score. Have you taken TOEIC before?

If you want to work as a chemist or biologist, you're going to compete with locals, so you'll have to show something better than they have for experience or degree. Pretty hard to do right out of college. Consider an internship to get your feet wet. Have you ever even been in Japan? An internship would give you some living and working experience which would be beyond what any tourist would get, and that might allow you to see whether you want to pursue something here longer (or stay away due to inability to adjust to the culture).

You might be more qualified for jobs where a foreign company has a branch here, but that's just speculation. You would be less inclined to face Japanese competition, but considering you'd still have to live here, expect some level of Japanese to be needed.
 
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@Glenski
Thank you for answering so fast :).
No I haven´t taken TOEIC before but I´ll try a sample one later today.
I suppose that I´d have to do a Master of Education in chemistry or biology in JAPAN just like if I would want to teach English there too?.
Considering that I´m (sadly) just starting to learn Japanese I´d take me a long time until I could even apply for an internship.
Wouldn`t I have to either "aquire" a certain level of Japanese before I study or redo my degree in Japan once I speak Japanese sufficiently?
Tho there would be the option to learn Japanese parallel to my studies.
Studying in Japan would also be a very distant goal since I´d have to take the University Entrance Examination Center Test which sounds pretty pretty pretty difficult and requires a certain level of Japanese which I couldn´t hope to achieve in time.
Or maybe im misinformed?

So having a B.o.E/ M.o.E in chemistry/biology in Germany doesn´t qualify me for teaching chemistry/biology in Japanese schools (not Universities) if a certain level of Japanese is provided?
If I would want to teach chemistry/biology in Japan would mean that I´d have to study those in Japan as well?
Or is there some other way to do this?
 
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Studying in Japan would also be a very distant goal since I´d have to take the University Entrance Examination Center Test which sounds pretty pretty pretty difficult and requires a certain level of Japanese which I couldn´t hope to achieve in time.
Seems i was wrong about this one.
I just read that you´d have to take the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students-Test to be allowed to study in Japan as a foreigner.
The site is about Master degrees tho. Does that mean that I can do my Bachelor in Germany then?

8 Chemistry Master's degrees in Japan - MastersPortal.eu
 
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I don't study chemistry/biology, but I'm halfway through my PhD in Chemical/Materials Engineering (Tokyo Tech). I have seven papers published in good journals and over a dozen conference papers, with half a dozen more journal papers in progress. My Japanese is still not even N2 level yet (studying to take the N2 this December), yet the job market is looking pretty tough. Two major reasons: (1) My Japanese ability is still too low, and (2) I don't have enough connections in academia or industry. Everyone I know who's gotten great positions (with lower credentials than myself) speaks perfect/native Japanese and had "buddy-buddy" introductions to their employers.

I don't say this to deter anyone or conflict with what Glenski is saying (he has far more experience), but I wanted to add my personal outlook to the discussion. Getting a Masters degree from a university in Japan is likely not enough; getting a PhD would be ideal, and whether it's in Japan or not is probably less important than your language ability and making connections.

Best of luck!
 
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@AmerikaJin5
Thank you for answering.:emoji_grin:
How long have you been studying Japanese for?
I´m interested how much time it took you to reach nearly N2 level.
My mother studied Japanese for 4 years and she couldnt manage to reach N2 so it kinda interests me.

As for the PhD, I don´t know if I could bring up the motivation and willpower to do a PhD in a field.
Also I´m currently torn between Public Health and applied chemistry and can´t choose between those two.
In addition to that I just can´t seem to find anything about the job market for chemists (due to that it´s almost impossible to find something for specific courses of studies like Public health or applied chemistry)
Therefore personal experiences like yours are pretty helpful for getting a vague image of the situation.

My parents tell me that I always think wayyy to far ahead and that I should focus on my A-level first.
But what im scared of is starting to study something which lateron reveals itself to have no influence/ benefits toward my goal and therefore "wasting" time.
(wasting is probably the wrong word since learning something new even if it´s not beneficial in my opinion isn´t a waste but i can´t think of a better word)
Doing that just pushes my goal further into the future.

I hope I get to clear my mind and decide soon or I´ll end up (like many Koreans my age) wandering the streets aimlessly (okay maybe thats a bit exaggerated but I hope you get what I´m trying to say xD)
 
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Is it possible to do a master degree and in addition to that seamlessly a PhD in Japan?
Reason being that the German PhD takes 5 or more years instead of the PhD in for example America which usually only takes 3 years to complete.
Does a PhD in Japan take 3 years as well or do they have their own regulations and rules?
 
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You ARE thinking very far ahead, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Keep in mind that economies change often, and if you found that a PhD was needed (without work experience), that's a long time down the road for things to change.

Look at Career Cross for descriptions of various jobs and their requirements. As I'm writing, there are 116 available for medical/scientific positions.

You won't likely have to take the same university entrance exams for grad school in Japan that the Japanese take. They are usually interested in tuition fees, TOEIC scores, and how much Japanese skill you have. But why even consider getting the PhD in Japan, compared to elsewhere? It would be easier where you are now. The only advantage getting it here is that you'd have a better opportunity to study the language (and some government scholarships force you to take 6 months of language training anyway) and to make contacts (something the Japanese are very keen on, especially through university professors).

Have you even looked into the internship prospects? You seem to think that 100% of them require high level of Japanese. I don't think that's so, but I don't know for sure. Plug "internship" into a Google search with some other relevant keywords and see.
 
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@Glenski
Thanks for the link.
Thats just the kind of website I was looking for :emoji_grin:.
As for the internship programmes, I´m aware that not every Internship requires me to have good or any Japanese skills at all but for example the EPINEL-programme (FU Berlin) offers that to all courses except any medicine and pharmacy courses.
Tho thats definitely not representative for all Uni´s in Germany, most of the time it´s the same.
Maybe I´ll just have to keep searching.
Or wait how things turn out.
As you said there is a long way to go until I reach that point.
Nevertheless thanks a lot for all the advice.:emoji_bow:

P.S
I´m saving up pocketmoney as well as the money I get from work so I can actually go visit my family in Korea as well as Japan for once. Planning to do so next summer or the year after.
 
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@AmerikaJin5
Thank you for answering.:emoji_grin:
How long have you been studying Japanese for?
I´m interested how much time it took you to reach nearly N2 level.
My mother studied Japanese for 4 years and she couldnt manage to reach N2 so it kinda interests me.

As for the PhD, I don´t know if I could bring up the motivation and willpower to do a PhD in a field.
Also I´m currently torn between Public Health and applied chemistry and can´t choose between those two.
In addition to that I just can´t seem to find anything about the job market for chemists (due to that it´s almost impossible to find something for specific courses of studies like Public health or applied chemistry)
Therefore personal experiences like yours are pretty helpful for getting a vague image of the situation.

My parents tell me that I always think wayyy to far ahead and that I should focus on my A-level first.
But what im scared of is starting to study something which lateron reveals itself to have no influence/ benefits toward my goal and therefore "wasting" time.
(wasting is probably the wrong word since learning something new even if it´s not beneficial in my opinion isn´t a waste but i can´t think of a better word)
Doing that just pushes my goal further into the future.

I hope I get to clear my mind and decide soon or I´ll end up (like many Koreans my age) wandering the streets aimlessly (okay maybe thats a bit exaggerated but I hope you get what I´m trying to say xD)
I've been studying Japanese for a little over 1.5 years (3 months intensive course, the rest is self-study). Like I said, I'm still not close to N2 level yet, probably 60% of the way between N3 and N2. However, since I graduate in less than 2 years I must start job-hunting next year, which means attending interviews conducted in Japanese...thus my goal to pass N2 this December (we'll see if it's possible :emoji_sweat_smile:).

Despite the fact that there are many science/research jobs that realistically should only require a Masters degree and some experience, it's not uncommon to see PhD listed as a requirement (probably in order to trim down the number of applicants). So, if the career you think you want requires a PhD which you don't think you want to study for, maybe it's wise to think carefully about both :emoji_wink:.
I say that as someone who also tried to plan out my career at a young age (once I entered high school), and who changed their education/career goals several times. In high school, I planned to become an architect and starting taking related courses; in my first year of university I decided to be a structural engineer and switched courses; in my last year of university I decided to be a structural engineering researcher and applied for a Masters course; during my Masters course I decided I liked materials science more than structural engineering and applied for a Doctoral course in chemical/materials engineering in Japan; I'm now set to finish my PhD and look for a position in academia (in Japan) as a materials science professor. Quite different from an architect! :emoji_upside_down:

As I find out more about the job market first-hand in Japan, I'll try to remember to post some details of my experience on this forum.
On that note, I may have some questions for members like Glenski later on regarding entering academia in Japan (once I figure out what the questions are). :emoji_relaxed:
 
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I've been studying Japanese for a little over 1.5 years (3 months intensive course, the rest is self-study). Like I said, I'm still not close to N2 level yet, probably 60% of the way between N3 and N2. However, since I graduate in less than 2 years I must start job-hunting next year, which means attending interviews conducted in Japanese...thus my goal to pass N2 this December (we'll see if it's possible :emoji_sweat_smile:).

Despite the fact that there are many science/research jobs that realistically should only require a Masters degree and some experience, it's not uncommon to see PhD listed as a requirement (probably in order to trim down the number of applicants). So, if the career you think you want requires a PhD which you don't think you want to study for, maybe it's wise to think carefully about both :emoji_wink:.
I say that as someone who also tried to plan out my career at a young age (once I entered high school), and who changed their education/career goals several times. In high school, I planned to become an architect and starting taking related courses; in my first year of university I decided to be a structural engineer and switched courses; in my last year of university I decided to be a structural engineering researcher and applied for a Masters course; during my Masters course I decided I liked materials science more than structural engineering and applied for a Doctoral course in chemical/materials engineering in Japan; I'm now set to finish my PhD and look for a position in academia (in Japan) as a materials science professor. Quite different from an architect! :emoji_upside_down:

As I find out more about the job market first-hand in Japan, I'll try to remember to post some details of my experience on this forum.
On that note, I may have some questions for members like Glenski later on regarding entering academia in Japan (once I figure out what the questions are). :emoji_relaxed:
Just wow.:emoji_astonished:
I wonder tho,
didn´t you have to take extra courses or could you change to different courses without having to repeat stuff?
I mean if you started with structural engineering and then did your master in structural engineering research and in addition to that started your PhD in chemical/material Engineering don´t you usually have to catch up with the stuff that course had whilst you´ve been studying the previous course?
Or do they build up on each other?
If I were to start studying say public health and after my Bachelor decided to study medicine. Don´t I have to have a Bachelor degree in medicine too in order to do get a masters degree?
I know that for some Courses it is possible (for example chemistry in which I can choose wether I want my master in chemistry too or if I want to do my master in something chemistry related like pharmacy etc).

Btw reading that it "only" took you 1.5 years of which more than 80% were self-study to reach n3 Level (soon n2 hopefully:emoji_grin:) makes my mother look kinda......... like an inefficient learner xDD.
Do you have any tips for self-study?
I´m basically to busy to attend language courses once school starts again and therefore I´m trying to learn Japanese by myself too.
2 Days in I can just barely manage to recall all of the hiragana symbols through mnemonics:emoji_sweat_smile:
 
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