60 Common Professions in Japanese and How to Chat About Careers

What do you do for a living?

Knowing how to answer this question in Japanese is a key step toward fluency, especially if you’re interested in the business side of Japanese. 

Learn how to navigate the professional Japanese environment, which often operates based on unwritten rules.

Whether you work in an office or somewhere more glamorous, this blog post has all the vocabulary words you may need to discuss your career.  


How to Talk About Professions in Japanese

If you want to talk about your job in Japanese, it’s important to remember cultural etiquette. 

First and foremost, be polite! Use the correct honorifics when addressing someone in a professional setting, or even discussing someone of higher status at your work. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that certain professions may carry specific expectations or stereotypes. For instance, businessmen and office workers (known in Japanese as “Salarymen”) are often depicted as overworked and dedicated to their jobs, sacrificing their personal life for work. Meanwhile, artists are often perceived as eccentric and solitary individuals who may struggle financially, despite the popularity of their work. 

Inquiries about professions are often approached indirectly and modesty is valued. This means that even if someone is award-winning or holds a prestigious position in their field, they’ll tend to downplay their achievements. 

Sentence structures for discussing work

When discussing professions in Japanese, it’s essential to understand common sentence structures and expressions.

You can state your profession using this pattern: “[Noun] です.” For example:

医者です。 (Isha desu.) — I am a doctor.

教師です。 (Kyōshi desu.) — I am a teacher.

Here are a few other ways you could phrase things:

__は私の職業です。 (Kore wa watashi no shokugyō desu.) — _____ is my occupation.

私は__として働いています。 (Watashi wa ____ to shite hataraiteimasu.) — I work as ____.

私は__関連の仕事に従事しています。 (Watashi wa IT kanren no shigoto ni jūjishiteimasu.) — I am engaged in _____-related work.

When inquiring about someone’s profession, you can use phrases like these:

あなたは何の仕事をしていますか? (Anata wa nan no shigoto o shiteimasu ka?) — What is your job?

あなたの職業は何ですか? (Anata no shokugyō wa nan desu ka?) — What is your occupation?
Responding to Inquiries:

Dreaming up a future career? Check out some examples of how to talk about future plans:

来年、経済分野でのキャリアを築きたいです。 (Rainen, keizai bunya de no kyaria o kizukitai desu.) — Next year, I want to build a career in the field of economics.

将来は医者になりたいです。 (Shōrai wa isha ni naritai desu.) — In the future, I want to become a doctor.

大学を卒業した後、研究者としてのキャリアを追求したいです。 (Daigaku o sotsugyō shita ato, kenkyūsha toshite no kyaria o tsuikyūshitai desu.) — After graduating from university, I want to pursue a career as a researcher.

Remember to use appropriate honorific language and adjust your speech level based on the formality of the conversation. 

Key vocabulary words related to jobs

Before we dive straight into profession names in Japanese, here are some crucial Japanese words related to jobs and the working sector. 

仕事に応募する Shigoto ni ōbō suruApply for a job
キャリア KyariaCareer
仕事仲間 Shigoto nakamaColleague
雇用 KoyōEmployment
雇用契約 Koyō keiyakuEmployment contract
雇用保険 Koyō hokenEmployment insurance
フルタイム FurutaimuFull-time
面接 MensetsuInterview
面接官 Mensetsu-kanInterviewer
仕事 ShigotoJob
仕事の申し込み Shigoto no mōshikomiJob application
就職 ShūshokuJob hunting
仕事の達成感 Shigoto no tasseikanJob satisfaction
職業 ShokugyōOccupation
オフィス OfisuOffice
パートタイムの仕事 Pātotaimu no shigotoPart-time job
アルバイト ArubaitoPart-time job
勤務地 KinmuchiPlace of work
昇進 ShōshinPromotion
仕事を辞める Shigoto o yameruQuit a job
履歴書 RirekishoResume/CV
退職 TaishokuRetirement
給与 KyūyoSalary
給与交渉 Kyūyo kōshōSalary negotiation
給料 KyūryōWage
職場 ShokubaWorkplace
労働者 RōdōshaWorker
勤務時間 Kinmu jikanWorking hours

Common Professions in Japanese

Find your profession (or dream profession) in the list below and get talking about your career!

JapaneseRomajiEnglish Translation
俳優 HaiyūActor
建築家 KenchikukaArchitect
アーティスト ĀtisutoArtist
銀行員 GinkōinBanker
美容師 BiyōshiBeautician
料理人 RyōrininChef
化学者 KagakushaChemist
会社員 KaishainCompany Employee
建設労働者 Kensetsu RōdōshaConstruction Worker
化粧品販売員 Keshōhin HanbaīinCosmetic Salesperson
カウンセラー KaunserāCounselor
サイバーセキュリティエキスパート Saibā Sekyuriti EkisupātoCybersecurity Expert
舞踏家 ButōkaDancer
データサイエンティスト Dēta SaientisutoData Scientist
デザイナー DezaināDesigner
医者 IshaDoctor
電気技師 Denki GishiElectrician
エンジニア EnjiniaEngineer
芸能人 GeinōjinEntertainer/Celebrity
農夫 NōfuFarmer
映画監督 Eiga KantokuFilm Director
フライトアテンダント Furaito AtendantoFlight Attendant
フリーライター Furī RaitāFreelance Writer
園芸家 EngeikaGardener
グラフィックデザイナー Gurafikku DezaināGraphic Designer
人事担当者 Jinji TantōshaHuman Resources Specialist
イラストレーター IrasutorētāIllustrator
ジャーナリスト JānarisutoJournalist
弁護士 BengoshiLawyer
音楽家 OngakukaMusician
看護師 KangoshiNurse
看護助手 Kangoshi JyoshuNursing Assistant
栄養士 EiyōshiNutritionist
牧師 BokushiPastor
パティシエ PatishiePastry Chef
写真家 ShashinkaPhotographer
飛行士 HikōshiPilot (Airplane)
警察官 KeisatsukanPolice Officer
看守 KanshuPrison Guard
プログラマー PuroguramāProgrammer
研究者 KenkyūshaResearcher
研修医 Kenshū IResident Physician
営業マネージャー Eigyō ManējāSales Manager
営業マン EigyōmanSalesperson
美容師助手 Biyōshi JyoshuSalon Assistant
科学ジャーナリスト Kagaku JānarisutoScience Journalist
科学者 KagakushaScientist
秘書 HishoSecretary
サーバー管理者 Sābā KanrishaServer Administrator
歌手 KashuSinger
ソーシャルメディアマネージャー Sōsharu Media ManējāSocial Media Manager
ソフトウェア開発者 Sofutowea KaihatsushaSoftware Developer
舞台俳優 Butai HaiyūStage Actor
学生 GakuseiStudent
サーフィンインストラクター Sāfin InsutorakutāSurfing Instructor
先生 SenseiTeacher
動物看護師 Dōbutsu KangoshiVeterinary Nurse
ウェイトレス WeitoresuWaitress
作家 SakkaWriter/Author

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Work Culture and Etiquette

Japan has a unique work culture. If you’re planning to work in the country, keep in mind some basic Japanese rules of professional etiquette:

  • Teamwork and Collaboration: Group harmony is highly valued in the Japanese workforce and individuals often prioritize the collective goals of the team over personal achievements. Team members are expected to work closely together, share responsibilities and contribute to a unified effort. Decision-making in Japanese organizations often involves seeking consensus. 
  • Respect: Respect for authority and hierarchy is deeply ingrained in Japanese work culture. There’s a clear chain of command and individuals show deference to those in higher positions. Politeness and formal language, especially when addressing superiors, are essential. 
  • Punctuality: Arriving on time for meetings and work-related events is considered a sign of respect and reliability while lateness is frowned upon. Time is often structured efficiently in the workplace to ensure smooth operations.
  • Long Working Hours: Japanese work culture is often associated with long working hours, and the concept of 過労死 (karōshi) — death by overwork, has gained attention. While there are efforts to address this issue, the dedication to one’s job and putting in extra hours, known as サービス残業 (Sābisu Zangyō) — service overtime, is still prevalent.
  • Business Cards: The exchange of business cards, or 名刺 (meishi), is a ritual in Japanese business culture. When meeting someone for the first time, it’s customary to offer and receive business cards with both hands. Take a moment to study the card before carefully storing it, as casually putting it away may be seen as disrespectful.
  • Work Dress Code: Maintaining a neat and orderly workspace is important in Japanese offices. Professional attire is expected, and individuals pay attention to their appearance. 

Understanding and adhering to these cultural norms is crucial for success in the Japanese workplace. 

Respect, harmony and effective communication are at the core of Japanese work culture, shaping the professional relationships and interactions within the business environment.

Now you’re ready to discuss your profession in Japanese, from the vocab to the correct sentence structures!

And One More Thing...

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