Working in Japan

What is the average starting salary in Japan? And which companies pay the highest starting salaries?

In this article, we give an overview of average starting salaries in Japan, average annual bonuses, and highlight companies with relatively high starting salaries.

Average starting salary data below comes from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s Annual Wage Statistical Survey for 2018.

Key takeaways on average starting salary in Japan

  • The average monthly starting salary for a university graduate is ¥206,700 ($1,905).
  • Across all educational levels, men have higher average starting salaries than women.
  • Average starting salaries rose on a year-on-year basis for all educational levels except women with a university degree. Average starting salaries for university-educated women fell by 0.7% YoY to ¥202,600.
  • For university graduates, the industry with the highest monthly starting salary is the academic research / specialized and professional services industry at ¥224,500. “Specialized and professional services” would include professionals like accountants, lawyers, and doctors.
  • For university graduates, the industry with the lowest monthly starting salary is the hospitality / food services industry at ¥198,100.
  • Important components of compensation in Japan are semi-annual bonuses, usually paid in summer and winter. Looking only at monthly average salaries will tend to understate workers’ actual annual salaries. The average starting salaries summarized below do not include bonuses, so to get an idea of average bonuses by industry, please scroll to the section on bonuses.
  • For a ranking of companies by high starting salary, please scroll to the bottom of the page!

1. What is the average starting salary in Japan by educational level?

The data below is broken down by level of schooling completed. The number in parenthesis shows the year-on-year change.

Average monthly starting salary in JPY by educational level – Both men and women

  • Graduate School: ¥238,700 (+2.3%)
  • University: ¥206,700 (+0.3%)
  • Two-Year College / Technical school: ¥181,400 (+1.2%)
  • High School: ¥165,100 (+1.9%)

Average monthly starting salary in JPY by educational level – Men only

  • Graduate School: ¥239,900 (+2.7%)
  • University: ¥210,100 (+1.1%)
  • Two-Year College / Technical school: ¥182,900 (+1.3%)
  • High School: ¥166,600 (+1.5%)

Average monthly starting salary in JPY by educational level – Women only

  • Graduate School: ¥234,200 (+0.8%)
  • University: ¥202,600 (-0.7%)
  • Two-Year College / Technical school: ¥180,400 (+1.1%)
  • High School: ¥162,300 (+2.5%)

2. What is the average starting salary in Japan by industry?

For holders of advanced degrees – By industry

The data below is broken down by industry, for employees with advanced degrees. The number in parenthesis shows the year-on-year change.

  • Average of all industries: ¥238,700 (+2.3%)
  • Construction: ¥233,400 (-1.6%)
  • Manufacturing: ¥233,900 (+1.3%)
  • Information / Communication: ¥235,300 (-0.9%)
  • Transport / Delivery: ¥231,800 (+6.7%)
  • Wholesale / Retail: ¥233,500 (-2.7%)
  • Financial Services / Insurance: ¥241,500 (+5.2%)
  • Academic Research / Specialized & Professional Services: ¥266,500 (+12.9)
  • Hospitality / Food Service: ¥216,200 (+11.6%)
  • Education / Educational Support: ¥232,400 (-5.9%)
  • Healthcare / Welfare: ¥201,300 (-1.5%)
  • Other Service Industries: ¥223,000 (+1.1%)

For holders of university degrees – By industry

The data below is broken down by industry, for employees with university degrees. The number in parenthesis shows the year-on-year change.

  • All industries: ¥206,700 (+0.3%)
  • Construction: ¥214,600 (+2.8%)
  • Manufacturing: ¥205,200 (+1.0%)
  • Information / Communication: ¥215,800 (+0.4%)
  • Transport / Delivery: ¥198,600 (+1.8%)
  • Wholesale / Retail: ¥205,500 (-0.8%)
  • Financial Services / Insurance: ¥204,600 (-0.4%)
  • Academic Research / Specialized & Professional Services: ¥224,500 (+5.0)
  • Hospitality / Food Service: ¥198,100 (+1.9%)
  • Education / Educational Support: ¥205,900 (-0.2%)
  • Healthcare / Welfare: ¥201,500 (-1.7%)
  • Other Service Industries: ¥202,000 (+1.4%)

3. What are average bonuses like by industry?

Important components of compensation in Japan are semi-annual bonuses, usually paid in summer and winter.

The table below shows the average annual bonuses by industry for 2016. Bonuses for listed companies and IT companies tend to be higher than the averages shown in the table. Because the data set below comes from a different source than the data above for average starting salaries, industry categories do not match exactly.

A key takeaway from the data is bonus amounts tend to be correlated with age of the employee.

4. Ranking of companies by highest starting salaries

The starting salary data cited above are nationwide averages. Actual starting salaries, of course, vary widely by company, the size of the company, where it is located, and many other factors (not to mention the actual education, experience, and background of the person being hired!)

To give our readers an idea of what a relatively high starting salary looks like in Japan, below is a partial ranking of starting salaries at 1,685 companies surveyed by the Nikkei newspaper. The Nikkei’s survey found that the average monthly starting salary in its 2019 survey was ¥217,969, which is slightly higher than the number reported by the the Ministry of Labor above (¥206,700) for 2018. For the full ranking, please see the Nikkei ranking (in Japanese, subscription required).

#1 Nippon Commercial Development Co. Ltd.

  • Name in Japanese: 日本商業開発
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥500,000
  • Industry: Housing / construction / real estate
  • Notes: Osaka-based real estate developer specializing in ground leases.

#2 ABeam Consulting

  • Name in Japanese: 会社のアビームコンサルティング
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥340,300
  • Industry: Information / Communication
  • Notes: Management, business process, and IT consulting

#3 Kitanotatsujin

  • Name in Japanese: 北の達人コーポレーション
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥340,000
  • Industry: Food and agriculture
  • Mainly engaged in the e-commerce business. Sale of health foods and beauty-related products through Internet, and the operation of related businesses.

#4 SEPTENI HOLDINGS CO., LTD.

  • Name in Japanese: セプテーニ・ホールディングス
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥336,350
  • Industry: Life / Services
  • Notes: Internet marketing business, providing marketing support services based primarily on Internet ads; media content business, developing and producing manga artists and operating manga distribution services with the aim of planning and developing proprietary intellectual property.

#5 Future Corporation

  • Name in Japanese: フューチャー株式会社
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥320,000
  • Industry: Information / Communication
  • Notes: IT consulting, business innovation

#6 JIG – SAW Inc.

  • Name in Japanese: JIG-SAW株式会社
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥305,000
  • Industry: Information / Communication
  • Notes: IT services management

#7 GREENLAND RESORT CO. LTD.

  • Name in Japanese: グリーンランドリゾート株式会社
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥300,700
  • Industry: Life / Services
  • Notes: IT services management
  • Notes: Management of amusement park, golf course, hotel.

Five companies tied for 8th place, with reported average monthly starting salaries of ¥300,000.

#8 Meiwa Estate Company Limited

  • Name in Japanese: 明和地所株式会社
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥300,000
  • Industry: Housing / construction / real estate
  • Notes: IT services management
  • Notes: Develops, sells, and manages condominiums in Japan. It also engages in real estate leasing and brokerage activities. Headquartered in Tokyo, it is known for its CLIO series of condominiums.

#8 Rakuten

  • Name in Japanese: 楽天
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥300,000
  • Industry: Information / Communication
  • Notes: Japanese electronic commerce and Internet company based in Tokyo and founded in 1997 by Hiroshi Mikitani. Its B2B2C e-commerce platform Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales.

#8 SourceNext Corporation

  • Name in Japanese: ソースネクスト
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥300,000
  • Industry: Information / Communication
  • Notes: Founded in 1996, Sourcenext specializes in helping companies like Rosetta Stone, Dropbox, Evernote, and Fitbit sell their software apps and products in Japan.

#8 Open House Co. Ltd.

  • Name in Japanese: オープンハウス
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥300,000
  • Industry: Housing / construction / real estate
  • Notes: Provides real estate agency/brokerage services in Japan. The company also develops and sells single-family homes and condominiums; and invests in and finances real estate properties. Founded in 1997. Headquartered in Tokyo.

#8 Mixi Inc.

  • Name in Japanese: ミクシィ
  • Monthly average starting salary: ¥300,000
  • Industry: Life / Services
  • Notes: Mixi is an online Japanese social networking service. It was founded in 1999 and is owned by Mixi, Inc. As of September 2012, Mixi had about 14 million monthly active users, with about 8.6 million of those on smartphones.

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Sources: Ministry of Labor Annual Wage Statistical Survey , Bonus Life Affiliate (2016) , Nikkei 2019 Starting Salary Survey

Lead photo: Via Pixabay, royalty-free