The objective of this study was to examine educational levels and employment status as independent determinants of overall and cause-specific mortality in a Japanese population. Participants were 4,301 men and 6,780 women in a multi-center community-based prospective study, and data of the baseline survey was collected between 1992 and 1995. The participants were followed up until December 31, 2002 (the average follow-up period was 9.17 years). Early termination of education was associated with an increased risk of mortality from all causes for both men and women. This tendency was more prominent in women aged 59 and younger (hazard ratio (HR) = 3.82, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.18-12.34), after adjusting for confounding factors using the Cox proportional hazard models. Similar trends were shown for men; specifically, cardiovascular disease mortality for all men was increased by early termination of education (HR = 2.97, 95% CI: 1.17-7.52) compared to later termination. For employment status, unemployed men showed increased mortality from all causes compared to white-collar workers (HR = 1.51, 95% CI: 1.00-2.28). Female farmers and forestry workers showed reduced mortality from all causes compared to white-collar workers (HR = 0.55, 95% CI: 0.33-0.93). Male farmers and forestry workers also showed reduced mortality from cardiovascular diseases compared to white-collar workers (HR = 0.34, 95% CI: 0.14-0.82). Educational level and employment status may affect mortality for Japanese women and men.