Infrastructure engineers support the IT infrastructure behind the scenes, which is essential for many businesses. However, to become a successful infrastructure engineer in Japan, there are many skills and knowledge to acquire, not to mention knowledge of servers and networks.
In this article, we will explain what you need to know when considering a career change to infrastructure engineering in the IT industry in Japan, as well as the skills and qualifications you need to make your job change successful. Lastly, we will also cover some of the top reasons why infrastructure engineers in Japan are popular in the job market.
Types of infrastructure engineers and infrastructure engineer jobs in Japan
Infrastructure engineers build and manage the IT infrastructure that is essential to many businesses, and are often divided into two main categories: server engineers and network engineers.
For small to medium-sized companies or those that undertake small projects, infrastructure engineers may be responsible for both servers and networks. But because of their specialised nature, they often specialise in one or the other as their career progresses. However, whether an infrastructure engineer specialises in servers or networking, basic knowledge of both would most likely be needed.
First type of Infrastructure Engineers: Server Engineer jobs in Japan
Server engineers are responsible for the construction, operation, and maintenance of server-related infrastructure within the IT set-up. Major duties include design, construction, and operation of various types of servers, security management, as well as operation and maintenance work to manage server load and operating status.
In recent years, the use of on-premise servers has been decreasing and the use of cloud computing has been on the rise. As such, opportunities that have contact with hardware are slowly diminishing. With this, it is often pointed out that the demand for server engineers may decrease. However, since expertise in virtualisation technology and the construction, operation, and maintenance of cloud environments are also needed, it can be said that server engineers will continue to be in high demand.
Second type of Infrastructure Engineers: Network Engineer jobs
Network engineers are responsible for the construction, maintenance, operation, and maintenance of networks and communication environments that connect computers. Their main duties include designing and constructing equipment and network configurations that connect servers and hardware. This is followed by operating, maintaining, and monitoring the equipment, including changing configurations and settings, updating, and troubleshooting.
Similar to the trend of servers, the introduction of virtual network environments in addition to physical networks is increasing due to the shift towards cloud computing. As a result, there are cases where skills to build virtual environments are required. It is also worth noting that the number of engineers specialising in virtualisation is also slowly increasing.
Companies in Japan hiring Infrastructure Engineers and the skillsets required
There are two main types of companies where infrastructure engineers work for: SIers and general corporate IT departments. The skills required differ slightly depending on which type of company you work for, so it is important to keep the differences in mind.
Skillsets required of Infrastructure Engineers working for SIers
At a SIer, your main job is to build infrastructure to meet the requirements of the client company.
Major SIers are often responsible for defining and designing infrastructure requirements, and outsource the latter processes to subcontractors. Since they often negotiate with clients during the design phase, the ability to explain design details to customers who have no knowledge of infrastructure is essential, especially if you are in charge of sales, consultants, or project managers. In addition, interpersonal communication and rooting skills are also important.
On the other hand, small to medium-sized SIers tend to take charge of infrastructure construction, operation, and maintenance as subcontractors or undertake the entire process in relatively small projects. In many cases, operation and maintenance work requires immediate response to problems, so problem-solving skills are also required. As an infrastructure engineer who’s responsible for everything from design to construction, operation, and maintenance, a wide range of knowledge and ability to respond to any situation would be needed.
Skillsets required of Infrastructure Engineers working in corporate IT departments
When working in the IT department of a company, infrastructure engineers will have many opportunities to operate and maintain the company's infrastructure. Interpersonal and communication skills are therefore required to deal with small day-to-day problems and provide support to internal stakeholders.
In addition, actual work such as design and construction is often outsourced. Therefore, project management skills and coordination skills would also be needed to act as a coordinator when defining requirements and reviewing designs from external SIers.
Qualifications to help you become an infrastructure engineer in Japan
Although qualifications are not required for either server engineers or network engineers, knowledge and skills in a variety of fields including security and hardware as well as infrastructure would be necessary. However, if you can show that you will be an immediate asset through your qualifications, your success rate in changing jobs will increase significantly.
Here are four types of qualifications that will help you get a better job as an infrastructure engineer:
IPA Information Processing Engineer Examination and Information Technology Security Assistance Professional
The Information Processing Engineer Examination and the Information Technology Security Assistance Professional are standard national qualifications administered by the Information-technology Promotion Agency, Japan (IPA). The Information Processing Engineer Examination is a certification for information processing in general, and does not test knowledge specific to infrastructure engineers. However, it is an official proof that you have the basic knowledge essential for handling infrastructure. For this reason, we recommend this certification, especially for those who want to become infrastructure engineers with no experience in the IT field.
The Information Security Assurance Specialist is Japan's first national certification in cybersecurity. This certification provides essential knowledge in the infrastructure field, where cyber-attacks and security incidents are commonplace. Compared to other certifications, this one focuses on the basics and is suitable for those with no experience in the industry.
Neither of these certifications has high pass rate, but they are easier than other certifications. It is recommended to start with these certifications to gradually build up your knowledge.
Oracle Master is a well-known certification sponsored by Oracle Corporation that certifies knowledge of databases and SQL. Oracle's products are widely used in the market, and some companies offer this certification to candidates who change jobs as a requirement. Once certified, a candidate is considered to have the basic knowledge to handle the Oracle Database.
There are four grades of Oracle Master: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The lowest grade, "Bronze," certifies the minimum required knowledge for database administration. This certification is recommended for those with no experience in the infrastructure field.
CCNA, CCNP (Cisco Certified Professional Engineer)
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certifications are offered by Cisco Systems, an American company. There are six ranks: Entry, Associate, Specialist, Professional, Expert, and Architect. If you are new to a career as a network engineer, the "Associate" rank of CCNA is recommended. If you can obtain the "Specialist" rank of CCNP, it is considered an advantage for you and sufficient to consider a job change.
The Cisco technician certification covers the fundamentals of networking very carefully, and simply learning the curriculum will improve your skills. It is worth noting that the certification is only valid for three years, so it is recommended to study and take the exam systematically.
LPIC (Linux Professional Institute Certification), LinuC (Linux Professional Certification)
The Linux Technician Certification Examination is a certification exam that certifies Linux technology, administered by the Japanese branch of the Canadian non-profit organisation, LPI. It is an internationally recognised certification, which proves that the candidate has working knowledge of Linux, an operating system adopted by a large number of companies.
There are three ranks: LPIC-1, LPIC-2, and LPIC-3. LPIC-2, the middle rank, is the level of knowledge that allows one to handle everything from design to construction, installation, and maintenance. Although it is not at a low level of difficulty, it is still considered an entry-level certification among Linux-related certifications. As such, if you are interested in becoming an infrastructure engineer at a company or project that deals with Linux, you should consider this certification.
Why are job seekers changing jobs in Japan to become an infrastructure engineer?
Infrastructure engineers are popular among job seekers looking for a career change or career advancement. The reasons for this include the following but not limited to:
Infrastructure engineer jobs are challenging and rewarding
Infrastructure engineers play an important role in maintaining business infrastructure such as servers and networks. As a player behind-the-scenes, you are in charge of supporting large-scale projects and the work of many employees, making this a very rewarding job. In addition, infrastructure engineers often work quietly and at their own pace, making them ideal for people who are good at working hard.
Knowledge and skills are more important than education for infrastructure engineers
The knowledge and skills are extremely important for infrastructure engineers and a major advantage and attraction for job seekers is that it is a position where education is not a requirement. Since they are in high demand within the job market in Japan, there are many companies that offer training from the basics to those with no experience in the industry.
Infrastructure engineer jobs have an attractive annual salary
Although the average annual salary for infrastructure engineers is not particularly high compared to engineering jobs as a whole, it is considered relatively high for an occupation that can be challenged and worked in even by inexperienced workers. Of course, depending on your knowledge and skills, you can expect to earn a higher income with the relevant experience.
The annual salary levels for infrastructure engineers (including server engineers and network engineers) and other types of engineering jobs are listed in Computer Futures salary survey guide.
Our latest salary survey summarises the salary levels for each engineering-related position. You can now download for free to access all details.Download the survey
Are you an infrastructure engineer or looking for a job change into the industry?
Infrastructure engineers have a lot of knowledge and skills to acquire, but they also enjoy a high degree of freedom to work quietly and at their own pace, whilst getting the satisfaction of supporting a business. Demand for infrastructure engineers in the job market is extremely high, and many companies are willing to train infrastructure engineers in-house if there are job seekers who are interested.
If you are interested considering a career change or career advancement as an infrastructure engineer, you may take a look at our available job openings for both server engineers and network engineers via the button below. Alternatively, you can also fill in your details in the contact form below to let a consultant share with you more about the prospects and confidential roles at no obligation.