JLPT Level Required for Study and Work in Japan 2024


Are you considering the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) but unsure about the different levels and what they mean for your career or studies in Japan? This article provides a comprehensive overview of each JLPT level, from N5 to N1, and explains their significance for employment and educational opportunities in Japan.


Brief Description of Each Level


The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is widely recognized as a measure of individual proficiency in Japanese. Managed both in Japan and globally, the JLPT has become a core benchmark for educational institutions, employers, and personal achievements. With five levels ranging from N1 to N5, where N1 represents the highest proficiency and N5 indicates basic proficiency, grasping the details of each level and their respective criteria can greatly benefit individuals living, working, or studying in Japan.

  • JLPT N5
    The easiest level of Japanese proficiency is at the beginner stage. At this level, learners start with basics such as hiragana, katakana, and simple greetings, then progress to learning nouns, adjectives, verbs, casual and polite speech forms, as well as basic verb conjugations. This stage also involves learning basic kanji characters, making it an enjoyable phase for learning Japanese effectively. To pass N5, candidates must be familiar with around 700 words and 80 kanjis.
  • JLPT N4
    This stage involves learning nearly all the essentials of Japanese, often posing a challenge for many beginner Japanese learners. Learners delve into Japanese verbs, including potential, causative, passive, prohibitive, volitional, and hypothetical forms, as well as respectful and humble expressions, leading to a vast volume of grammar. Individuals at this level can understand and use basic Japanese in everyday scenarios and have some ability to read and write simple sentences. To pass N4, candidates must be familiar with around 1,500 words and 150~ 300 kanjis.
  • JLPT N3
    The N3 level marks an intermediate stage where there’s a significant focus on memorizing kanji characters and vocabulary. Hiragana no longer appears on the test papers, and sentence structures go beyond basic grammar. At this level, individuals can understand and participate in everyday conversations to some extent, and are capable of reading and writing simple texts on familiar topics. Achieving N3 proficiency is essential for living or finding part-time work in Japan. To pass N3, candidates must be familiar with around 3,500 ~4,000 words and 700~800 kanjis.
  • JLPT N2
    N2 is a proficiency level that serves as a basic requirement for university admission, employment, and working holiday in Japan. While the method of learning vocabulary and grammar is not significantly different from N3, N2 requires memorizing 1.5 times more essential vocabulary and an additional 150 sentence patterns. In reading and listening comprehension, more complex topics such as science, psychology, and social issues are covered, and passages at the level of NHK Internet news articles are provided. At N2 level, proficiency in reading and listening comprehension is considered crucial in determining the outcome of the exam. For the JLPT N2 level, candidates must be familiar with approximately 6,000 words and around 1,000 kanji characters.
  • JLPT N1
    N1 is the highest level of the JLPT and is an essential requirement for admission to Japanese universities and employment at major Japanese companies. While lower-level exams focus on common knowledge and vocabulary, N1 tests proficiency in understanding Japanese used in complex situations, including multiple meanings and nuances of words and characters. At this level, a thorough understanding of over 10,000 words and more than 2,000 kanji characters is required.

Employment Opportunities with JLPT Levels

As you may have already gathered, meeting the requirements for N5 and N4 levels can pose challenges when applying for various job positions. Even for roles that may seem entry-level or require minimal qualifications, such as temporary student jobs or basic positions, achieving at least N3 proficiency is typically necessary.

However, if your career aspirations involve roles where Japanese fluency is a key requirement along with specific skills and qualifications, aiming higher is essential. While a quick Google search might suggest that N3 is a good starting point for Japanese job seekers, it’s important to recognize that this is only part of the story. Relying solely on this guideline could significantly limit your opportunities.

While some companies may be willing to hire candidates at the N3 level, expecting them to continue language classes to improve, this is often reserved for highly desirable candidates with significant experience and expertise. For the majority of applicants, the job market can be competitive and unforgiving.

To ensure better employment prospects as a Japanese speaker, aiming for at least an N2 level is advisable. Ultimately, your chances of success depend on the uniqueness of your skills and how crucial language proficiency is to the company’s operations. However, it’s worth noting that most companies operating primarily in Japanese prefer candidates with N2 or even N1 proficiency. In many cases, N3 proficiency may not suffice.

JLPT Level Required for Working in Japan

Working with JLPT N1

At the top, the N1 level is your golden ticket to a wide array of job markets, making you eligible for roles that require deep linguistic comprehension, such as managing Japanese contracts or serving in the sophisticated environments of luxury hotels and elite restaurants. Achieving N1 means you’re seen as fully capable of engaging with complex texts and conversations, a significant advantage in high-stakes positions.

Working with JLPT N2

The N2 level, while a step down, is still highly respected, fitting for jobs where you might occasionally need input from Japanese-speaking supervisors. This includes positions like working as a clerk in convenience stores or as a staff member in eateries, where interacting with Japanese patrons is part of the daily grind. N2 signifies you can handle everyday communication and service tasks with a fair degree of linguistic finesse.

Working with JLPT N3

For those holding an N3 certification, the focus shifts to roles in the service sector, such as working in buffet settings or leisure facilities like ski resorts. These positions generally entail a range of duties from cleaning to assisting in the kitchen, where basic Japanese proficiency is sufficient for the job requirements.

Working with JLPT N4

N4 level opens similar doors to N3, with opportunities in roles that demand simple, routine tasks, including those in production lines where instructions are available in foreign languages. This level indicates you have a foundational grasp of Japanese, enough to follow simple guidelines and perform tasks effectively.

Working with JLPT N5

Even the introductory N5 level offers a foothold in the Japanese job market, suitable for straightforward tasks supported by instructions in a language other than Japanese, like cleaning. It’s the starting line for those new to Japanese, providing a stepping stone into Japan’s work environment.

JLPT Level Required for Studying in Japan

Studying in Japan offers more than just the acquisition of new knowledge. It’s about deeply understanding the culture and language, and establishing your place within the global community. To make the most of this experience, a proper command of the Japanese language is essential. check up the JLPT levels needed for studying in Japan.

Essential JLPT Levels for Studying in Japan

University and Graduate School Admission: Most Japanese universities and graduate schools require an N1 or N2 level. Holding an N1 level signifies the ability to understand academic materials fluently and participate in complex academic discussions. The N2 level is often the minimum required by universities, proving the ability to comprehend basic academic materials and follow lectures.

Vocational Schools and Language Studies

For those aiming to attend vocational schools or language studies, the N3 or N4 level is typically required. These levels are sufficient for everyday conversations and understanding basic professional terms, demonstrating that learners have the fundamental Japanese language communication skills needed for living and studying in Japan.

Cultural Experience and Short Course

For short-term cultural experience programs or brief courses, the JLPT level is not strictly required. However, having an N5 level or higher can be helpful for daily communication in Japan.


Understanding the JLPT levels is crucial for anyone looking to work or study in Japan. This article has explored the specifics of each level, from basic N5 to advanced N1, and their impact on job and educational prospects. Whether you’re aiming for a top-tier university admission with N1 or seeking entry-level employment with N5, mastering the JLPT can unlock significant opportunities in Japan. Equip yourself with this knowledge to strategically plan your language learning journey and achieve your goals in Japan.

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