Some of the most interesting jobs in the world are off-limits to people who lack language skills. Of course, you can learn a language just for fun. But why not take your studies a little more seriously and start thinking about the opportunities you gain from your newfound (and impressive) language skills?
Let’s take a look at six of the most interesting jobs for people who speak more than one language.
Can learning a new language help me get a job?
Learning a language can help you get a job — there’s no doubt about that. But there’s a big caveat: Language skills alone are not enough. You need to combine your language skills with other valuable skills you have.
In my youth (wow, I feel old) I studied Japanese seriously. I took tests, got good results, and thought that was my ticket to a high-paying Tokyo job. No dice, I’m afraid. It doesn't matter how hard I worked, my language skills weren’t valuable on their own.
But if you add language skills to your resume with other impressive skills or experience, you become in demand in a bunch of interesting industries.
Master a new language, work overseas
With Busuu you get feedback from native speakers, free online courses made by language-learning experts, and join a community of millions of language learners. Then when you’re ready, use your language skills to get the job of your dreams.
Ideal careers for language learners
Let’s look at six of the best jobs for people with language skills. Granted, this list isn’t exhaustive. These jobs link directly to language skills. But if you look hard enough, you’ll find companies in many less-obvious industries that would love staff members who speak multiple languages.
Anyway, on to the list.
1. Foreign language teacher
Top of the list — and one of the easiest jobs to get started with — is English language teaching. This is the only job on the list that doesn’t require you to speak more than one language. But an interest in languages is obviously beneficial.
There are three ways you can go about foreign language teaching:
● Teach overseas. If you’re from an English-speaking country, it’s surprisingly easy to get a job overseas. There is demand all around the world for native language teachers. Depending on the country you want to teach in, you might not even need any formal qualifications. And your new company will often sort out your visa and accommodation so it’s easy for you to get set up.
For people who want to experience a foreign culture, teaching overseas is one of the most accessible ways to do so.
● Teach in your home country. If you live in an English-speaking country, this isn’t as easy. You’ll need formal qualifications. And for better positions, advanced degrees are necessary. But it can be super rewarding. It can also pay well. The average salary for a foreign language teacher in the USA is around $83,000 per year.
● Teach online. There are tons of options for teaching a language from your own home. All you need is a computer and the Internet. It’s flexible, and there are millions of students to teach. On average online teachers in the USA get around $4,000 per month.
2. Study abroad coordinator
Sticking with the education theme, next on the list is a study abroad coordinator. International education is big business nowadays — there were around 950,000 thousand students from overseas in the USA in 2022. And most of those people don’t speak English as a first language.
Universities, colleges, private language schools, and even junior and senior high schools need people who can communicate and support their international students. And they pay an average of around $52,500 per year in the USA.
Let’s take a look at the responsibilities of a study abroad coordinator:
● Review applications from overseas students.
● Make sure everyone has a valid visa.
● Check applicants’ previous academic records.
● Help international students meet their academic goals.
● Advise and support students in a new culture.
3. Translator or interpreter
Let’s clear something up first. These aren’t the same jobs, but they are related. Translation is changing words in media from one language to another. Traditionally that meant written words. But nowadays it can also mean movies, TV shows, video games, and music.
Interpretation is changing spoken words from one language to another as they are spoken. They’re the people you see over the shoulder of visiting overseas politicians. Or helping star athletes understand questions in post-game press conferences.
They’re two related but distinct skills. And neither is easy. Not only do you need advanced language skills. You also need to specifically train in translation and interpretation. On average, these jobs pay around $60,000 per year in the USA.
4. Military linguist
You can think of a military linguist as an extreme translator or interpreter. You’ll need to translate classified documents and intercepted communications. You’ll also be the point of contact with foreign allies and local communities. Giving you a unique perspective and role within the military. The US Army pays its military linguists an average of $60,000 per year.
5. Intelligence analyst
This probably sounds more glamorous than it is. Think less James Bond chasing bad guys through exotic locations and more sitting at a desk all day. Lots of paperwork, lots of reading, and lots of summarizing what’ve you read to your bosses.
Language skills are a big help if you want to work for one of the agencies that focuses on overseas. For example, if you worked as an intelligence analyst for the CIA you’d get an average salary of around $135,000.
6. Foreign service officer
Foreign service officers staff embassies, consulates, and missions around the world. You get to experience foreign cultures and customs. And, most importantly, show off your hard-earned language skills.
Let’s take a look at the different responsibilities of foreign service officers:
● Consular foreign service officer. This is a public-facing job. You help people from your country deal with a range of issues when they’re overseas. Think visas, passports, births, deaths, and arrests.
● Political foreign service officer. This job is all about keeping your ear to the ground. You need to know what’s going on politically in your host country. And you may be involved in discussions with the host country’s political leaders.
● Economic foreign service officer. Trade, commerce, banking, and business are the focus of this job. You build relationships with your host country to benefit your home country’s economy.
● Public diplomacy foreign service officer. In this job, you reach out to the public in your host country. You set up cultural and educational programs to teach people about your home country.
The average salary of a foreign service officer is around $100,000 per year.
Ready to work overseas?
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