My Way to Japan

Path to Become an Academician in Japan
Lai Hung Wei Updated in January 2023

Konnichiwa and salam sejahtera! Statistics showed that most of our members return back to Japan after Sakura Science Exchange Programme to pursue their postgraduate studies. As a developed country which put heavy emphasis on research and development, Japan have provided various scholarships and opportunities for international students to study and involved in academic works. Today, I would like to share a bit on being an academician in a local Japanese university.

The standard flow of an academic route would be postdoctoral researcher, assistant professor, lecturer, associate professor and lastly professor. In general, one needs to first gain sufficient research capability before application. One of the most straight forward and standard way would be obtaining a doctorate degree in a particular field. When you are in your final year of your doctorate, students in Japan will start looking for potential laboratory in other laboratories for a postdoctoral position. It is advisable to look for a laboratory which can utilize your equipped knowledge while getting the opportunity to learn new laboratory techniques. As an entry level for academician jobs, postdoctoral positions serve as an important stepping stone which may allow you to grow and prepare yourself as an independent researcher in the future.

Once you decide on the path as an academician, you have to move on to learn how to manage a laboratory. This occurs when you get promoted to the position of assistant professor. An assistant professor is a position whereby he/she assists the professor/lab manager on managing research-related tasks, such as guiding graduate students with their research. An assistant professor also needs to carry out his/her own research while securing research grants for the laboratory. The responsibility of an academician increases as one becomes a lecturer, associate professor or professor, where one will be fully responsible in managing a laboratory, educating students on research-related works, securing grants and giving lecture to students.

The job of an academician is no easy task as it requires perseverance, high self-discipline and dedication. However, if research and education are your passions, an academician will definitely be the ideal career you are looking for in your life. This is a noble job that not only improves the well-being of future mankind, but equips new generations with the necessary skills to preserve the civilizations of mankind.