Average salaries for Young Professionals in Japan

Average salaries for Young Professionals in Japan

How much income can you earn in Japan? Detailed information about typical salaries in Japan for your age group lets you know what to expect and plan ahead.

(※This article was first published in August 2018 and last updated on March 5th, 2021.)

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Total average salary

The average yearly salary in Japan in 2020 was 4.09 million JPY (37,200 USD). This result is based on a 2020 survey by job board provider doda with a sample size of around 400,000 answers. The highest-paying job type was investment banker (at an average 8,1 million JPY) and the highest-paying industry – unsurprisingly – investment consulting (at an average 6.7 million JPY).

This figure, however, lumps together the incomes of all people regardless of age, position, or gender. Especially when you are at the start of your carer, it does not give you a realistic estimate of how much you will make. Luckily, the doda survey is very detailed, so let’s look into it a bit more.

Average income in Japan by age

Japanese graduates start their first job in their early 20s. Accordingly, there is a strong increase in income of around 30% in the late 20s, after a few years of work experience.

In 2020, the average yearly salary for a Japanese employee in their 20s was 3.4 million JPY (31700 USD). Men made 3.7 million yen on average, women 3.2 million.

Age Total
Total Male Female
20 279 309 256
21 280 305 259
22 283 295 272
23 294 309 281
24 323 340 306
25 346 385 340
26 365 385 340
27 382 407 350
28 394 421 358
29 404 432 363
30s 444 484 377
40s 510 573 403
50s 613 661 431

This annual salary is before taxes and inclusive of bonus payments. Japanese companies usually pay a bonus twice a year. How high these payments are heavily depends on the company. For realistic estimates of monthly salary, divide by 12-16.

Average income of Japanese employees in their 20s.

The income distribution among employees in their 20s is highly concentrated around ¥3,000,000 per year. Most companies will hire fresh university graduates at roughly the same starting salary, regardless of their position or skills. This is because the first 1-2 years are considered a training period by most employers. To get a higher starting salary, you’ll have to apply to a mid-career position (中途入社, ちゅうとにゅうしゃ).

Average income of Japanese employees in their 30s.

With age and experience salaries increase. In their 30s, around 60% of employees in Japan have annual incomes of more than ¥4,000,000.

Income by profession

The more specialized the profession, the higher the income you can expect. This rule of thumb also holds true for Japan. However, compared to the USA and some other countries, there is a less pronounced spread in incomes.

Job Total Male Female 20s
Professionals (Consulting, Auditor, etc.) 601 638 509 497
Management, Planning 516 570 437 395
Electrical, Electronics, Mechanics 461 471 368 381
IT, Communications 452 469 395 372
Sales 442 468 378 378
Construction, Engineering 428 441 364 372
Finance 426 584 358 343
Medical, Science, Food 411 444 370 351
Creative 381 422 348 320
Administration, Assistant 332 391 317 303
Retail, Services 329 358 298 298

Income by industry

It is no secret that some companies pay better than others, but which industries offer the most generous salaries in Japan? The huge presence of general trading companies is a Japan-specific thing, but aside from that the numbers more or less equal to what you’d see in other industrialized nations.

Industry Total Male Female 20s
Manufacture, Maker 453 492 366 372
Finance 448 540 370 372
General Trading 446 487 376 367
IT, Communications 444 471 386 370
Medical 426 510 357 346
Construction, Real Estate 418 451 349 367
Internet, Advertising, Media 407 448 364 352
Specialized Trading 406 443 343 352
Services 369 405 338 326
Retail, Dining 353 390 309 308

Income by region

In metropolitan areas with lots of industry, salaries tend to be higher. The salary is one reason why that many people want to work in the Kanto area. Despite considerable differences in salary by region, it seems that the percentage of income used on living expenses is relatively constant, regardless of where one lives in Japan.

Map of Japan

Area Total
Total Male Female
Kanto 429 478 366
Tokyo 444 496 386
Kanagawa 430 483 355
Chiba 412 461 341
Ibaraki 408 445 336
Tochigi 403 439 323
Saitama 406 452 336
Yamanashi 393 424 321
Gunma 383 417 317
Tokai 400 442 325
Aichi 402 446 327
Gifu 386 426 311
Mie 391 429 316
Shizuoka 405 441 327
Kansai 389 436 328
Kyoto 377 425 323
Shiga 400 442 324
Osaka 386 432 329
Nara 386 434 318
Hyogo 401 449 331
Wakayama 380 419 317
Chugoku/ Shikoku 381 416 316
Ehime 372 403 315
Okayama 379 416 312
Hiroshima 382 420 318
Kagawa 379 415 311
Kochi 370 396 317
Yamaguchi 391 426 310
Tottori 378 394 340
Shimane 374 400 310
Tokushima 377 418 316
Hokushinetsu 376 409 311
Niigata 362 388 306
Ishikawa 383 418 311
Nagano 383 415 314
Toyama 379 417 315
Fukui 384 421 308
Hokkaido/ Tohoku 371 404 310
Iwate 377 404 314
Miyagi 373 413 311
Yamagata 358 381 307
Akita 366 388 312
Aomori 366 393 310
Fukushima 386 417 315
Hokkaido 367 400 309
Kyushu/ Okinawa 369 407 310
Okinawa 348 383 291
Miyazaki 360 388 305
Kumamoto 370 406 303
Saga 368 398 315
Kagoshima 360 395 296
Oita 367 398 300
Nagasaki 370 406 303
Fukuoka 372 414 314

Average income trend

According to Japan’s National Tax Agency, the average salary in Japan 2019 was ¥4,364,000 ($40,426). It was the first decrease in seven years. News sources attributed the 1% drop to decreasing salaries at companies with 100 and fewer employees, which make up a huge part of Japan’s corporate landscape. The yearly reports are released in September each year, so there’s no data for 2020 out yet.

In the recent years, Japan has been coming out of a “salary slump” that reached its low point in 2009 as a result of the 2007-2008 financial crisis (or Lehman shock, as it is called in Japan). After 10 years, salaries have now more or less recovered to their pre-crisis levels.

Average income in Japan from 2009 to 2019.

More on income

Gender Wage Gap

A significant gender gap across all professions and age groups is apparent in the data, which cannot be explained away by mothers and housewives (this study only considers full-time employment).
According to recent OECD data from 2019, women in Japan earn 23.5% less than the median wage of their male counterparts. This puts Japan into the bottom three of all OECD member countries, only topped by South Korea at 32.5%. The United States are in the middle at 18.5%, and European countries like Denmark are leading the wage equality movement at 5% and lower.
One significant reason for this gap is the small number of women in managing positions.

Minimum wage

Minimum wage in Japan is not decided on a national level but set by each prefecture. An industry-based minimum wage system also exists. The average minimum wage in Japan is ¥902/hour and at an all-time high.

The highest minimum wage is paid in Tokyo at ¥1013/hour. It’s lowest in Okinawa, Akita, and other rural prefectures at ¥792/hour.

Salary raise

Aside from your job and skills, time at the company and age are factors that companies take into account when setting salaries and give raises. In your first year, it is not unusual to get a raise of only a few ¥1,000 per month. This will increase exponentially with your performance and time at the company.

Bonus payments

Bonus payments are common in many Japanese companies and are typically paid once or twice per year. Similar to the raise, don’t expect too much during your first year. How much bonus one receives depends on the employee’s performance and standing, as well as the company’s profits. As a rough average, for professionals, up to 4 months’ salary can be expected as annual bonus payments (before taxes).

More details

Find out more about your net income by looking into the tax system in Japan (taxes have been rising, but are still relatively low). For information about salaries at specific companies, look at Japanese company review sites like OpenWork, where users share their positions, income, and additional information about their experiences.

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Madelaine

After traveling around for a while, I found my home in Tokyo. Now working in Shinjuku and discovering something new about Japan every day.