Foreign Language Career Information
- Language Analysis
- Civil Service
- Foreign Service
- Security and Protection
- Law Enforcement
- Federal government organizations including:
- Overseas aid agencies
- Intelligence and law enforcement agencies:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Central Intelligence Agency
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Department of State
- Homeland Security including:
- US Customs and Border Patrol
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Department of Defense including:
- US Armed Forces
- National Guard
- National Security Agency
- Department of Commerce
- Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Peace Corps, VISTA, Americorps
- Library of Congress
- Voice of America
- US District Courts
- The government is one of the largest employers of people with foreign language skills. Consider studying a critical need language for the greatest number of opportunities.
- Complete an internship with a federal agency and maintain a high gpa to be a more competitive candidate.
- Learn government job application procedures. Plan to apply early and inquire frequently about job vacancies.
- Review special hiring authorizations to be hired and to advance more quickly.
- Participate in campus organizations and activities that promote interaction with international students.
- Attend a specialized school that teaches foreign languages for additional training.
- Live abroad and gain knowledge of politics and economics to prepare for a career in this field.
- Increase knowledge of geography, history, and international affairs.
- Join the armed forces as a way to get experience.
- Consider earning a graduate degree for more job opportunities.
Industry and Commerce
- Customer Services
- Logistics and Transportation
- Computer and Software Services
- Operations Management
- Administrative Services
- Advertising and Marketing
- Human Resources
- Banks and financial institutions
- Import/Export companies
- International companies including:
- Foreign firms operating in the US
- US firms operating in foreign countries
- Retail stores
- Environmental firms
- Consulting agencies
- Sports organizations
- Telecommunications companies
- Computer and software firms
- Advertising agencies
- Professional associations
- Law firms
- Supplement coursework with business classes or earn a business minor.
- Develop international competency by living and working abroad and by interacting with international students on campus.
- Get involved in student organizations and seek leadership roles.
- Research which companies do business with the countries in which your language of study is spoken.
- Be prepared to start in a position in the US working for a firm with an overseas presence. Very few entry level positions are available in international business.
- Some jobs will require graduate degrees in fields such as business, law, or related areas.
Travel and Tourism
- Airline Services
- Booking and Reservations
- Travel Services/Guidance
- Tour and excursion companies
- Travel agencies
- Cruise lines
- Bus lines
- Convention centers
- Chambers of commerce
- Take courses in hotel/restaurant administration or recreation and tourism management.
- Get a part-time job in a hotel or restaurant to gain experience.
- Spend some time abroad to learn about various cultures and traditions.
- Brush up on your knowledge of geography.
- Consider attending a travel and tourism school.
- Develop office skills such as working with computers.
- Show an attention to detail.
- Read international newspapers to keep up with overseas developments.
- Interpretation (Simultaneous & Consecutive)
- Judiciary (Court)
- Educational services
- Business services
- Government agencies
- Healthcare organizations
- International organizations
- Nonprofit and social service organizations
- Develop fluency in a second language. Seek out any opportunity to converse with native speakers to better learn the language.
- Learn a third language for increased job opportunities. Some languages such as Middle Eastern or Asian ones are in more demand than others.
- Gain experience through internships or volunteering.
- Seek certification or accreditation from an interpretation/translation organization.
- Being bilingual does not automatically qualify one to serve as an interpreter or translator.
- Learn to listen to one language while speaking another at the same time.
- Develop aptitude with computers and the internet.
- Interpreters and translators who have expertise in a particular area such as law or medicine may find more opportunities.
- Develop skills in negotiation.
- Learn to work well under stress.
- Most people who work in this field freelance. Show ability, initiative and motivation as this is a very competitive field.
Service and Education
- Educational Administration Including:
- Student Affairs
- Study Abroad Programs
- International Houses or Cultural Centers
- International Student Services
- Civil Service
- Social Work
- Mission Work
- Library Science
- Health Services
- Nonprofit or Public Interest Law
- K-12 schools, public and private
- Professional language schools
- English language institutes
- Overseas dependents’ schools
- Foreign study exchange programs
- Adult education programs
- Religious and volunteer organizations
- International organizations
- Law enforcement agencies
- Social service agencies
- Nonprofit organizations
- Obtain state teacher licensure for K-12 teaching.
- Earn a graduate degree for college or university teaching opportunities.
- Develop superior written and oral communication skills in the English language including proper sentence structure and comprehensive vocabulary.
- Minor or double major in another subject that you could also teach.
- Get experience as a teaching assistant or tutor.
- Become familiar with the cultural base of your language (literature, art, politics, etc.) as well as with cultural traditions.
- Consider teaching English as a foreign language (overseas). Research courses and certifications for teaching English to non-native speakers.
- Volunteer with government programs such as VISTA or community programs such as ESL classes.
- Work abroad through volunteer programs or missions.
- Plan to take both written and oral examinations to become an interpreter.
- Notify local hospitals, schools, and chambers of commerce of your availability to translate or interpret for international visitors.
- Earn a graduate degree in a field of specialty, e.g. Student Affairs Administration, counseling, or law.
Arts, Media, Entertainment
- Advertising and Marketing
- Public Relations
- Film Making
- Museum Work
- Foreign news agencies
- Book publishers
- TV networks
- Radio stations
- Film companies
- Recording companies
- internet media companies
- Advertising firms
- Learn about the customs and culture of the country in which your language of study is primarily spoken.
- Supplement coursework with related classes such journalism, photography, art, etc.
- Spend time studying or working abroad.
- Complete one or more internships in your field of interest.
- Work at campus and local newspapers or radio and television stations.
- Read international newspapers to keep up with developments overseas.
- Listen to foreign broadcasts.
General Information and Strategies
- Choose an additional academic area of study to supplement the foreign language, preferably one that requires a high degree of technical skill. Most people with foreign language ability use those skills to assist them in a different career field such as business, education, journalism, law, etc.
- Choose which language and culture appeals to you most. Consider the level of foreign language ability you will need to acquire for success in your career. Possible languages to study: Spanish, German, French, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Portuguese. Some languages will offer more job opportunities than other languages in various industries or geographic locales.
- Related courses to study include geography, history, civilization, foreign relations, international law, and world economics.
- Plan to attend a private language institute to learn additional languages and cultures.
- Travel to a foreign country or study abroad in international exchange programs to develop your language skills and international/intercultural competency.
- Study and practice your foreign language skills by reading foreign newspapers, magazines, and books.
- Seek opportunities to interact with international students on your campus or members of your local community. Host international students, join relevant student organizations, and participate in international campus events.
- Watch foreign movies and listen to foreign broadcasts to maintain your fluency.
- Volunteer your language skills to churches, community organizations, and programs that work with people who speak your target language.
- Correspond with someone from a foreign country.
- Contact professional associations and read their publications to learn about job opportunities.
- Research job postings on the internet to get an idea of jobs in which knowledge of a foreign language is useful.
- Participate in summer programs, co-ops, and internships to improve your skills.
- Network with others in the field to learn about job opportunities.
- In general, international positions are competitive and difficult to obtain. Be very proactive in developing the skills and experiences international employers seek.
- Get your foot in the door in domestic positions because many international employers promote current employees into international ones.
Miscellaneous Career Information
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