As Japan’s university students return to start the new academic year this month, many will be looking at their bank balance with trepidation and wondering how exactly they managed to spend all that money during spring break. Over two-thirds of Japanese university students work part time, helping contribute towards the cost of study materials, weird alcohol for drinking games, and buying the same clothes as everyone else.
For students looking for extra funds, or – dare we say it – graduates who’ve been unable to find full-time employment, Japanese site Recruit Jobs has compiled a happy little list of the best-paying part-time jobs in Japan.
1) Cram school teacher
Hourly wage: 1,279 yen
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the highest paying part-time job for students is a specialised one: tutoring at one of Japan’s myriad juku, so-called “cram schools” offering extra tuition at evenings and weekends. The industry is big business: virtually all high-schoolers studying for university entrance exams will attend juku.
2) Promotional staff
Hourly wage: 1,232 yen
Known as "kyanpeen sutaffu" (“campaign staff”) in Japan, this job also allows you to sell a little bit of your soul every time you put on the color-coordinated uniform! Promotional representative jobs, usually being filled by - let’s be honest here – pretty girls, range from the relatively mundane to the bizarre.
Alternatively, you could become a representative for your city, like these lovely ladies from Wakayama in the photo above.
3) Pachinko staff
Hourly wage: 1,172 yen
Staff working the halls of pachinko, the highly addictive Japanese arcade game that’s a bit like pinball without the flippers, can expect to make an average of 1,172 yen an hour. Presumably some of that is to compensate for the effects of deafening noise and an overwhelmingly smoky atmosphere – work here and you will smell by the time you leave.
The jobs with some of the lowest hourly wages come from more typical student employers: so-called “fashion advisors” (i.e., clothing shop assistants) only get 919 yen and hour; convenience store staff average out at 879 yen, and workers at fast food restaurants can expect to make 900 yen per hour.
That last figure for fast food workers looks pretty similar to the hourly wage of a McDonald’s worker in the United States, which is between $6 and $9 per hour. The cost of living in Japan is notoriously high though, so perhaps we should think about applying the Big Mac Index for a more nuanced comparison?
Cash concerns aren’t the only reason students choose to work, though. Recruit Jobs also asked respondents what they felt they gained from having a part-time job. Making friends outside of their usual circles was one of the answers given, as was personal development. “Seeing my coworkers work towards achieving their dreams is my motivation,” said one pizza delivery guy. See? Maybe money’s not everything after all…
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