• The demand for nursing care workers in Japan is increasing.
  • There are four main types of certificates that prove your ability to work in nursing care
  • A certificate is not required to work in nursing care
  • There are many different places to work, including retirement homes, adult day care centers, and elderly people’s own homes
  • Nursing care jobs are in demand and worth it

Nursing care in demand

Currently, one in four people in Japan is 65 years old or older. The number of elderly people is growing in Japan, and will continue to grow. Thus, the need for workers in the nursing care field is rapidly growing. Nursing care is a job where you help elderly people with their daily activities such as eating, taking a bath, going to the bathroom, and changing clothes, to improve their quality of life (QOL). There are different places to work as a nursing care worker, which include retirement homes, adult day care centers, and elderly people’s own homes.

What you can do and cannot do without a certificate

There are many different certificates that are useful to work as a nursing care worker. However, due to the increasing need of workers, more companies have been accepting people without any certificate or job experience related to nursing care. Most of the nursing care jobs on JapanWork don’t require a certificate. When you work without any certificate, the jobs you can do are restricted. You can help elderly people with relatively simple things such as changing clothes, walking, and cleaning. You can also work as a daycare bus driver or cook. On the other hand, you are not allowed to help them with things including eating, taking a bath, and going to the bathroom. Also, you cannot work as a visiting care worker. In order to work outside retirement homes or daycare centers, you need a certificate.

Benefits of having a certificate

It can still be highly valuable to have a certificate even though more and more nursing care centers are employing people without a certificate.  If you have certificates to prove your knowledge and capability to work in the field, it is certainly better both for you and the elderly people you are going to take care of. If you have experience helping elderly people with changing their clothes and going to the bathroom, they are more reassured and trust you. Also, since you have already learned, you will not feel stressed or confused as much while you work. In addition, you will probably get paid more than when you do not possess a certificate. 

Here are four of the most important certificates to have when you are working as a nursing care worker:

  • 介護職員初任者研修 (kaigo shokuin shoninsha kenshuu): A beginner certificate. This certificate allows you to work as a visiting nursing care worker. This certificate is like a stepping stone to getting 介護職員実務者研修 (the certificate below), and many of the care workers possessing 介護職員実務者研修 have already gotten this one before.
  • 介護職員実務者研修 (kaigo shokuin jitsumusha kenshuu): An intermediate certificate. In order to get a 介護福祉士 certificate, you need to possess this certificate. You can be a team leader if you have this certificate.
  • 介護福祉士 (kaigo fukushi shi): A national certificate. This allows you to be a social worker who manages to improve nursing care conditions.
  • 介護支援専門員 (kaigo shien senmon in): A care manager. You make care plans for the elderly considering their physical and mental conditions and check if things are going as planned.

How to get a certificate

So, how can you get a nursing care-related certificate? In order to get 介護職員初任者研修, you need to take a study course of 130 hours, which takes one to four months depending on the person. There is a test at the end of the course, and if you pass the test, you will get the certificate.

You need to take a course of 450 hours to get 介護職員実務者研修. It takes about half a year to finish this course. If you already have 介護職員初任者研修, you will be exempt from 130 hours of study. You need to pass a test at the end of the course to get the certificate.

As for 介護福祉士, there are three ways to get the certificate. The first way is to go to a high school that teaches health and welfare. The second one is to go to college or vocational school of health and welfare. The third is to get 介護職員実務者研修 and have at least three years experience of working in nursing care. Either way, you are required to take a national exam that is held every year. The exam consists of two parts: a writing part and skill part. If you pass the exam, you will get a 介護福祉士. In 2016, 57.9% of the applicants passed the exam.

If you would like to be a care manager, you need to have at least five years of experience in either of the following two work fields: jobs in the medical or health field, including doctors, dentists, acupuncturists, and physical therapists; or social work-related jobs such as 生活相談員 (social workers) and 支援相談員 (assistant social workers).

Where to find jobs

You can find jobs on normal job searching websites, but there are websites specifically for people who are looking for nursing care jobs. Here is a list of some of the websites:

You can filter job postings by location, certificates you have, and what kind of job you would like to do. 

Demanding and yet rewarding 

In this aging country, nursing care work is one of the most needed jobs. At the same time, the job is very demanding. Not only would you need to assist the elderly physically, but also you would need to help them mentally by listening to them and trying to understand them. There might be challenges while you interact with them; however, being thanked by the elderly people that you serve and becoming friends with them make this kind of job rewarding, and you will feel that every hardship is worth it.