Is it possible to make a career out of foreign language study?
I'm asking outside of the typical Interpreter or Translator careers. I love foreign language but I'm not sure if these are there right paths for me. Thanks!
Hi, Daija, yes it is possible to have a wonderful career studying foreign languages. Besides translation /interpretation which are very interesting and fulfilling in their own right, you can also pursue a career in teaching; and for this there are a few different settings where you could work: at a regular school, at a language school, as a private teacher, or at a college or university ; if you want to think outside the box, then you might even consider combining foreign language studies and the tourism /hospitality business - like working as a tourist guide, or as crew at hotels, airline companies, cruise ships. Think of the concept of globalization, more and more people from around the world get connected in some way, therefore mastering a foreign language will always be a competitive advantage. I know 4 languages, and it helped me advance my career first in the public relations business and then as a translator. In order to learn more about your possibilities I recommend you talk to professionals in those fields that call your attention, but don’t limit your contacts to only those areas - sometimes we have preconceptions about professions that we can only overcome when we explore the subject more deeply. I mean , try to also talk to translators and interpreters. Approach them saying that you are researching for a decision about your career and that you want to ask them some questions. Make a list of questions so you make the best of your and their time together and you don’t get lost during your meetings. But pay close attention to their answers because they may lead to more questions and you need to be sharp at this precious opportunity to talk to professionals. Consider asking questions like, What do you like most about your job? And what you dislike most? What is your background, what did you study? How long did you study? Where did you go to college? What are the best schools for this career? How did you start your career? What are the biggest challenges?
Sorry if I got too long, but your question made me enthusiastic and I do hope this is really useful for you. When I was growing up and having to decide what to do, there was none of these helpful tools. So please make the best use of them. And I wish you good luck!
Patricia recommends the following next steps:
Learning a new language is a wonderful gift that you can give yourself! It'll always open new worlds and opportunities. What you need to ask yourself is what kind of income would you like to earn in the future. The teaching jobs, especially in academia are few and besides the mastery of the language, you'd need to show original research and publications. There are also a lot of native speakers in US universities and competing with them requires a lot of skill. Translations are another source of income but they vary greatly: from literary to instructional manuals, legal, etc. You'll have to find a niche in order to be compatible. I highly recommend that you choose the language you'd like to learn wisely and research your professional options before spending years in college. Also, you can combine it with (applied) linguistics or other related disciplines that offer wider range of jobs than teaching and translations, or travel agencies. But it is definitely a lot of fun going to Italy and talking Italian:) Best of luck!
I work with some clients that need a particular language as a necessity. Combining your language with some work experience you can definitely be in-demand. With globalism, countries spreading their product and service across the U.S. language barriers is a huge impact with team performance. So if you learn a new language, it is as equivalent as a technical candidate in IT.