Japan is a country with lots of excellent opportunities for engineers. First things first, though – if you want to be an engineer in Japan, you’ll need a visa. Specifically, the “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services” visa (Or “Engineering” visa for short). But first, you’ll need an engineering degree. So, what can you do if you don’t have one?

We’ll talk about 2 ways to get a visa without a degree, an overview of the ITPEC exam, where to take it, the 3 types of exams, and what opportunities you’ll get in this article.

The 2 Ways to Get a Visa Without a Degree

Getting your Japanese engineering visa

Technically, there are 2 ways to find an engineering job in Japan without a degree.

Option 1: Experience

If you have worked in the field for over 10 years, immigration will overlook the degree requirement.

In other words, you need 10 years of related experience. This can be from freelancing, part-timing, or even related studies.

Option 2: The ITPEC Exam

If you don’t have 10 years of experience, taking the ITPEC exam is another great option.

What’s the ITPEC Exam?

The ITPEC exam is short for the Information Technology Professionals Examination Council Common Examination.

This is a 5-hour examination used to measure the skills and knowledge of IT engineers around Asia.

With this exam, the immigration bureau will most likely grant you a visa. This is because the ITPEC proves IT knowledge and employability no matter your qualifications or experience.

Where can I take the ITPEC exam?

ITPEC exams are held twice a year. The exams can be taken in a number of Asian countries. However, only 6 countries hold exams in English. You also need to take the specific exams that fulfill Japan’s requirements. Countries that hold the exams are:

  1. The Philippines
  2. Thailand
  3. Vietnam
  4. Myanmar
  5. Mongolia
  6. Bangladesh

In short, if you’re already in Japan, taking the exam in the Philippines will be easier.

Taking the ITPEC exam

The 3 Types of ITPEC Exams

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of exams. From easiest to hardest, the 3 they are:

  1. Information Technology Passport Examination (“IP”)
  2. Fundamental Information Technology Engineer Examination (“FE”)
  3. Applied Information Technology Engineer Examination (“AP”)

1. Information Technology Passport Examination (“IP”)

The “IP” exam tests basic IT knowledge. This is the easiest of the 3 tests. This means that this category is ideal for job-seekers, students, or people who want to move into IT.

Target audience

  • Workers who need basic IT skills for their jobs
  • Students preparing to job hunt

Knowledge and skill requirements

  • Basic knowledge of information security and networks
  • Ability to strategize in business and legal affairs
  • Problem-solving through analysis
  • Proficiency with office tools

2. Fundamental Information Technology Engineer Examination (“FE”)

The “FE” exam tests whether you have the knowledge and skills to be an IT engineer. You need to prove your ability to work with algorithms, networks, databases, information security, practical programming, and more.

Target audience

  • IT engineers
  • Students who want to become IT engineers

Knowledge and skill requirements

  • Knowledge of system architecture design
  • Software programming and development knowledge
  • System operation and management knowledge
  • Ability to analyze, evaluate, and plan

3. Applied Information Technology Engineer Examination (“AP”)

The “AP” exam is the hardest test of the three. This is because t tests whether you have the knowledge and skills to be an IT engineer and team leader. The “AP” exam tests the same skills as the “FE” exam. However, it also emphasizes your leadership and management skills. That means that you need to be able to merge your IT skills with management and leadership skills.

Target audience

  • IT engineers who want to be team leaders

Knowledge and skill requirements

  • System design, development, operation, and management knowledge
  • Ability to analyze, evaluate, and plan business strategies
  • Experience scoping, budgeting, processing, and managing projects
  • Ability to apply project management, architectural design, and information security skills

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Job Opportunities With the ITPEC Exam

Work as an engineer in Japan

The ITPEC exam is based on the Information-Technology Engineers Examination (jōhō shori gijutsusha shiken, 情報処理技術者試験, or ITEE). The ITEE is the most popular IT exam in Japan. In other words, it sets the standard for the Japanese IT industry.

With the ITPEC exam under your belt, you should have access to the same jobs as other IT professionals. Therefore, immigration should grant you the “Engineering” visa. However, you’ll still need the other required paperwork.

Engineering Visa Period of Stay

While we know the ITPEC exams are useful for highlighting your IT qualifications, we don’t know how it influences your long-term visa validity. It can be as long as 5 years or as short as 3 months. It’s also difficult to say how it’s determined.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that every immigration bureau has its own set of requirements. Thus, we recommend you prepare every possible document. This will be helpful in case your immigration officer asks for more. For example, you can print out samples of previous work to add to your application package.

Take The Next Step

Inbound Technology can help you find your dream tech job in Japan. You can talk to one of our friendly career advisors here, or find us on LinkedIn.

If you want to know more about freelancing in Japan, our ultimate guide is worth a read.