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5 Interesting Careers for Language Lovers (Beyond Translators and Interpreters) Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in Language Learning

When thinking of foreign language-related careers, the first options that come to mind are probably translator, interpreter, and foreign language teacher. Surely, none of those are bad options for a language lover. But linguaphiles aren’t limited to such narrow career paths, and often have interests beyond language learning (blasphemy, I know!) In fact, studying languages develops core competencies sought after by practically every field.

Language lovers are better communicators. They think can express and understand difference perspectives, present information clearly, and speak, read, and write effectively and fluidly. Multilinguals understand cultural differences and show sensitivity toward cultural issues. They can adjust quickly to new environments. Experiences language learners can analyze complex problems and compare and contrast different interpretations and solutions. They offer diversity to a team, can weigh alternatives wisely, and generate creative solutions.

With a skillset of that caliber, where else can a language lover contribute? Here are 5 career paths for the linguistically inclined:

1. Foreign Service Officer—If you’ve never heard of a Foreign Service Officer (FSO), they are the kind folks we refer to as diplomats. They staff our Embassies worldwide, managing government property, providing consular services, promoting international trade, resolving international conflicts, and generally serving at the face of America to the rest of the world. Where do languages come in to play? Officers receive unparalleled language training at the Foreign Service Institute—a mecca of language learning—prior to departing for overseas posts. In fact, all FSOs must achieve fluency in a second language to receive tenure. Want to represent America abroad, move to a new country every few years, and be paid to learn new languages in preparation? This may be the career for you. (And for non-Americans, every country has diplomats, so surely there are similar opportunities for public service in your country of origin.)

2. Flight Attendant—Chances are, if you like languages, you like traveling. What better way to see than world than as a flight attendant (i.e. for FREE). Yes, though the pay may not be overwhelming, if your passion is travel, free flight benefits certainly make up for it. Aside from seeing the sights on your shift, you have the chance to interact with different people from different backgrounds on a daily basis. Sure, some of them will be a pain in your you-know-what, but you’ll also get to speak with businessmen, international volunteers, musicians, military members, and all kinds of kinds. Not to mention you’ll get to put your language skills to use when speaking with them. It’s not all “Would you like ice in that?” for flight attendants.

3. Peace Corps Volunteer—This isn’t quite a career so much as a stop along the way, but it’s one heck of a way to serve your country, make an impact, join a powerful network, and really learn a language along the way to your career goals, especially if those goals involve an international career. Peace Corps inductees receive several weeks of language training to prepare them for their designated sites, but as a language lover you know a matter of weeks is not long enough to master a language. That’s why being a PCV is a language learner’s dream: you get dropped off in a new country to learn a language—usually a less-commonly taught language, to boot—full immersion style. On top of that, you get two years at your site to perfect your language skills and see how far they can take you. If you don’t have an affinity for luxuries like electricity and running water, consider the Peace Corps as your next language adventure.

4. Sports Recruiter—Just because you’re passionate about languages does not mean you don’t have other interests. For the sports fanatics among us, this could be a rewarding career path that taps into your language skills. Sports recruiters are hired by teams, universities, and agencies to scout out the best talent. For highly-internationalized sports—think soccer (futbol)—recruiters are literally scouring the entire world for the cream of the athletic crop, so there’s opportunities for travel and foreign language use. Strong communication skills are paramount to success in this field, considering the amount of negotiating and persuading you must do. We all know that communication is the wheelhouse of language lovers, so even if you’re dealing with an English-speaking athlete, you’ve got a leg up.

5. Copywriter

For the marketers among us, there’s a role for foreign languages in your field as well. Copywriters write copy, all of that compelling messaging you read on websites, in e-mails campaigns, and beyond. Every company can benefit from excellent writers, but multinational companies need individuals with excellent writing skills in multiple languages. Not sure what I mean? Check out http://www.nike.com/language_tunnel and see the dozens of languages supported by Nike’s website. Having an in-house writer to create copy for your website is crucial, as the very message you’re trying to convey may be lost when sending copy to an external translation agency. If you love putting the figurative pen to paper, this could be the career for you.

Bonus: Translating and Interpreting!

We said we wouldn’t include these, but there’s always a place for freelance translating and interpreting. Don’t think it has to be either mundane translation work or white knuckle simultaneous interpreting for the United Nations. Consider finding a niche like health care interpreting or subtitling Netflix shows.

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About the Author:meaghan

Meaghan is the Social Media Coordinator for Transparent Language, aka the messenger of language news to twitterverse. She once had a love/hate relationship with French, but the two are now very happy together, although one time she was a little unfaithful with a semester of Hausa lessons. @meagmcgon


Comments:

  1. Manuel Aicart:

    Although not exactly a career, what about language blogger?

  2. Mickey:

    One that always fascinated me was language consultant, especially in the entertainment industry. Think of all the Hollywood movies in which the characters are speaking in a foreign language. They always need consultants and language coaches on the set, to make sure the foreign language is used correctly and it sounds natural.

  3. Terry Waltz:

    Recommending that non-native writers seek opportunities as copywriters — no. This does not reflect actual industry reality.

  4. Katherine Francis:

    I love language and languages but didn’t have the right passion for teaching or the discipline for more intensive study (eg. PhD) to become a bonafide linguist. I’m now a speech pathologist (known as speech-language pathologist in the US) and I work with children with speech and language difficulties. It’s a challenging, never-boring and rewarding profession! It indulges my passion for language and linguistics as I get to listen, analyse and teach syntax, grammar, and phonetics every day, and I’m helping those who need it. Once you are qualified you can work in many places as speech pathologists are in demand in schools, rehabilitation centres, hospitals and private practice. It’s a diverse field with so many options!

    • helen:

      @Katherine Francis Dear Katherine
      your Response encourage me to ask you that
      could your expertise help me to improve my English language(in Correct pronunciation,spelling – writing- listen and speaking)
      if yes, how is it possible. please,let me know!

      • Edward:

        @helen I can help you with that. Where are you based and how do I reach you?

  5. torri lewis:

    I love this post! Im going into the Peace Corps May 2015 for Ecuador! I was able to express to my recruiter that I wanted to go a Spanish speaking country, but there is no guarantee with Peace Corps where you can be sent or what language will be required (in some cases more than one depending on your community). After PC ill definitely want to persue being a foreign diplomat!

    • meaghan:

      @torri lewis Congrats, Torri! The Peace Corps application process is no joke, just being accepted is a major accomplishment. Let us know if we can help you prep your Spanish before you arrive. We keep a Spanish blog as well that you may find useful during your preparations: blogs.transparent.com/spanish

    • ACA:

      @torri lewis Are there peace corps here in Ecuador???!!! Lol I would have never imagined that!!!!…. Well Megan, I gotta tell you that depending on where in Ecuador would you be located, you might have good chances to learn a quite decent Spanish….so much better than the Spanish that is used in other Latin countries.
      Anyway, if you have any question about my country, contact me… Sometimes is a good idea that a local helps a foreign with information…specially when is going to settle down in a new country…good luck

  6. Brad Steven:

    Achieving fluency in Spanish has opened many doors for me in the consulting/finance world. While most of my colleagues work solely on domestic projects, I have already had the chance to travel to Colombia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico for nearly a dozen projects during my first 3 years out of college. When international projects in Spain and LatAm become available, I am the first person to come to mind; there is rarely a value proposition for sending an individual who does not speak the local language. In fact, my new job in Financial Advisory requires that most new hires speak a second language due to the multitude of projects opening up in foreign countries. Obviously, I had very little competition in the hiring process as a result! Americans who want to both see the world and have a leg up in job interviews need to learn a second language.

  7. Swastik Chakraborty:

    Hey.. great info… but I’m from India…. I hav a question: How many job opportunities are available in INDIA after having a 3 years Diploma in Chinese Language ????? I’m very fascinated about traveling the world… will I get any opportunity to visit abroad for any MNC job assignment on basis of having Chinese/Spanish diploma.. ?????? plzzzz judge my questions as per Indian condition…. plzzz reply me…

  8. Scil:

    Hi, My knowledge in the French language has also blessed me in so many ways. Right after university I landed a job with an international NGO. However I want to improve very well on my English pronunciation. Can anybody help? I write well though
    Hihihihi

  9. Julian:

    I recently completed a Masters in TESOL and Linguistics. I currently live in Koln, Germany. It has been four years since I last worked as a language teacher in Japan. My native language is English and I am fairly functional in German. There are not many teaching opportunities close to me and I would really like to go into another language related field.
    What opportunities are available to me?
    Julian

  10. Mikhail Potapov:

    Hi
    I’m based in Belarus English,French,Polish,Russian linguist with bags of experience in different fields.
    Can you advise some distant jobs?Thanks!
    Best regards
    Mikhil


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