What can I do with a degree in Japanese?

Students from secondary schools enjoyed a collaborative event at UC on 11 June 2015.

The Japanese programme offers a broad range of subjects including language, literature, culture, geography, history, sociology, gender studies, theatre studies and cross-cultural psychology.

Students are encouraged to combine language studies with another discipline to maximise career opportunities.

Many of our graduates go on to careers as translators and interpreters in government departments and service industries, and as teachers of Japanese. Others have taken up important positions in Foreign Affairs, become lawyers specialising in Japanese clientele, business people with international companies, or scholars producing significant research and securing lectureships at universities in New Zealand and overseas.

Through their Japanese degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that includes:

  • Reading, writing, listening and speaking Japanese
  • Well-developed communication skills
  • Interpretive and analytical thinking
  • A better understanding of the global interactions which shape modern society
  • Familiarity with both modern and traditional culture and society
  • Thinking critically and creatively, and challenging ideas
  • Problem solving skills
  • Familiarity with the Japanese online environment and language-related software technologies.

Practise your skills at work or in Japan

Opportunities to apply your learning are available:

  • An internship can deepen your working knowledge and employability — there are opportunities to do a full-immersion Japanese internship with a Christchuch-based company
  • UC offers a number of options to immerse yourself in Japanese language and culture, including study exchange partnership programmes with seven Japanese universities.

A degree in Japanese can lead to a variety of career options.

  • Some graduates have gained Monbukagakusho (Japanese Ministry of Education) Scholarships for study and research in Japan.
  • There are a number of programmes that employ Arts graduates to teach English in Japan. Many Japanese alumni join the Japanese Government’s Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme.
  • Others have been employed by government departments such as the Japanese Embassy or Consular Office, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Government Communications and Security Bureau.
  • There is a demand for teachers of Japanese in secondary schools and some graduates have gained jobs at tertiary institutions in New Zealand and Japan.
  • Other graduates enter banking, import/export and legal industries or find jobs in multinational companies that have links with Japan. Some become translators or enter the tourism industry.
  • Scientists, engineers, and computer science graduates who have achieved advanced Japanese language abilities have taken up research and employment opportunities in Japan and/or worked on Japanese-related projects.

Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.


  • Translates spoken language from one language to another, often simultaneously
  • Keeps abreast of up-to-date meaning of words
  • Researches specialist topics, travels with groups and presents to different audiences


  • Conveys the content of the source text into the target language
  • Researches terminology or technical words and language trends
  • Often works collaboratively as part of a team of translators

Tourism marketing officer

  • Researches consumer market and interests
  • Manages customer networks and relationships
  • Creates and maintains corporate brands and advertising media

Language officer / consultant

  • Outlines the sounds, words, structure, and vocabulary of a language spoken for organisational purposes
  • Leads engagement and information sessions
  • Translates and interprets

Immigration officer / consultant

  • Understands immigration instructions
  • Assesses clients to establish their eligibility for visas or helps navigate migration processes
  • Writes submissions and files applications

Secondary school teacher

  • Plans and delivers instructional lessons
  • Evaluates performance and provides feedback
  • Sets and marks assignments and tests

Teacher of English for speakers of other languages

  • Assesses a student's reading, writing, speaking and listening skills and needs
  • Designs and prepares learning materials
  • Presents lessons, including on local knowledge and skills for coping in a new place

Tertiary lecturer

  • Prepares and gives lectures, workshops and tutorials
  • Sets and marks assignments and exams
  • Conducts research, writes reports and publishes articles

Sales manager, key account manager

  • Identifies and develops new markets or business
  • Manages client relationships and presentations
  • Implements sales and marketing strategies

Inflight service manager

  • Delivers customer service pre, during and postflight for a variety of people and aircraft
  • Manages health and safety of passengers
  • Troubleshoots any potential issues

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea, product or service
  • Offers services as a freelancer/consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, network.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Japanese subject page