Best Careers for Language Learners
We all have our reasons for studying a language.
Maybe you want to travel the world or to understand arts and literature. Perhaps you have family reasons for picking up the study books.
Having a reason to learn is fantastic and will help you stay disciplined in your study.
But have you considered one of the largest benefits of languages: the job opportunities that your second language opens to you? It’s impressive how languages can benefit your career.
Most Popular Careers in Languages
Foreign Language Teacher
Teaching languages is more than giving high school classes. From one-to-one Spanish tutoring to training adults in Russian business language, there are so many ways to enter the education sector.
Right now, language teachers are in short supply. The United States, UK, Canada, and Ireland are just some of the locations desperate for secondary school language teachers.
Teaching is a worthwhile and rewarding career. Whether you’re teaching kids or adults, watching your students’ knowledge grow, helping them to solve problems, and ultimately reach their goals makes teaching one of the most feel-good careers around.
To become a high school teacher, you’ll normally need a bachelor’s degree in a foreign language or linguistics. Other organizations will vary in their requirements.
If standing in front of a class every day leaves you in a cold panic, translation might be for you.
Translators are masters at conveying the written word. Unlike interpreters, who work with spoken language only, the focus of a translator is to recreate a source text in another language, matching it in conventions, style, and tone.
While this is easy with technical texts, some translations (for example in the fields of literature or marketing) require a lot of cultural awareness to strike the same chord with the audience in the target language.
Some translators choose to specialize in a certain industry, which can be anything from traditional fields like medical and legal translations to more modern niches such as computer games. Whatever your specialism, you will need to have a solid grasp of your second language and the culture of the countries where it is spoken.
Most translators are self-employed, meaning it’s an ideal career if you dream of working from home, although there are agencies who employ translators also.
To work as a freelance translator you don’t need any formal qualifications, but becoming certified by the relevant professional body in your country (such as the ATA in the United States) will give you an advantage when looking for work.
We all see interpreters regularly in the media: interpreting at press conferences, translating interviews on the news, or in large, multi-national institutions such as the United Nations.
Just like translators, interpreters relay messages between speakers of two languages, but the difference is they work with speech, instead of text.
There are many different situations that need interpreters. They may be needed at a global conference, or an executive might require an interpreter to accompany them on a business trip overseas. Interpreters also work in public service locations such as courtrooms, immigration facilities, hospitals, police stations, and doctor’s surgeries.
Interpreters use their technical skills to listen to, translate and then relay the original message to the recipient, bridging a language gap to enable two people to communicate with each other.
To work as an interpreter, you’ll often need a bachelor’s degree in languages or interpreting, or at least two years of experience through volunteering. Many governments offer diplomas in public service interpreting, to certify your abilities.
Other Careers in Languages
Outside of teaching, translating, and interpreting, there are a whole host of careers that you can explore if you speak another language. Here are just some of them:
We live in a global economy, where doing business with companies the world over is widespread. Attending sales meetings with clients overseas is much easier if you know how to speak your client’s language! Not to mention, you’ll probably find it much easier to build relationships with your clients with your enhanced, bilingual communication skills.
Multilingual people are in high demand in the tourism industry because they help employers connect with a wider range of customers. There are a variety of jobs available, from hospitality, to tour guide, to flight attendant… What’s more, working in tourism is a great way to meet people from all over the world.
Language skills are in high demand among journalists. In a globalized world, we are more connected with other nations, meaning people with language skills are needed to research, interview, and write about news from every background.
Benefits of Knowing a Second Language in Your Existing Job
Experiencing how languages can benefit your career doesn’t have to mean a completely new job. Learning a second language can do wonders for the ‘soft skills’ that employers covet.
Next time you’re looking for promotion, why not consider the below list of skills you gain by speaking two languages?
- Multilingual staff can provide new opportunities for employers. The British Chamber of Commerce found in 2019 that 60% of companies wanting to do business in a foreign country don’t have the multilingual staff to facilitate this. Your knowledge of a second language could unlock new markets for your employer.
- Internal communications are easier with employees who speak multiple languages. Many multinational corporations spend a lot of money on translation services, but with multilingual employees, this can be brought in-house.
- Linguists tend to build better relationships with others. Because of the cultural awareness that comes with learning a language, linguists find it easier to connect with people from other backgrounds. You’ll also form a stronger bond if you’re able to speak to someone in their native language. Nelson Mandela put it perfectly: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
We hope this guide will provide ideas and inspiration about how to make the most of the skills you learn with Pimsleur.
How have languages have helped you in your career? Tell us.
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