Learning a language and being multilingual opens up a raft of employment opportunities for individuals. But did you know a language degree helps you develop more than just linguist abilities? In fact, you’ll have developed a number of other attributes that are highly appealing for potential employers.
Transferable skills that’ll surprise and shock you
Some people assume that the only new skill you learn is being fluent in another language when you’ve got a language degree. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there are a number of other transferrable skills that you have developed throughout your education that will certainly help you secure your dream job:
When you were learning to speak a foreign language, one thing you’ll have had to do a lot is analyse information. For example, you’ll have explored how to write words and sentences in the correct order and subsequently learned more about linguistic typology.
Analysis is a useful skill that you can transfer to virtually any role as most jobs require some level of scrutinisation before making operational decisions.
Did you know that multilingual people are most likely to make the right judgment calls in their personal and professional lives? In fact, a scientific study from the University of Chicago suggests that multilingual people evaluate problems in different languages for sanity-checking.
It makes sense, then, that multilingual individuals make good judgment calls, especially when you consider they also have excellent analytical skills. Employers understandably prefer candidates who can make good decisions, particularly when faced with a significant challenge.
Dedication and Enthusiasm
Let’s face it: the journey to learning a new language and becoming fluent in it is not an easy one. You’ll often have to forget about the rules you were taught as a child when learning your native language and start from scratch.
A couple of skills you will certainly have picked up during your foreign language degree course as a result are dedication and enthusiasm. Yes, you may have already had those skills to some degree. But, your foreign language education will have helped you hone those attributes and are certainly worth mentioning on your CV.
Five amazing career ideas
So, you’ve learnt a lot of new skills getting your language degree, but what’s next? We’ve previously written a blog post about the best types of jobs you could get. However, that’s just a small sample of the opportunities available to you.
Here are five other examples of what else you could do:
1. Teaching and Tutoring
You can now fluently write, speak, and understand another language. That means you can confidently converse with others who are also fluent in that language. Now that you’re a polyglot, you may wish to offer the gift of giving to other people through teaching and tuition.
In our previous blog post, we wrote about how becoming a college lecturer could be a good career choice for someone looking for a language job.
But what if you could get a job where your sole purpose was helping others learn a new language, rather than just offering bi-lingual lessons in other subjects? Many people with language degrees become language teachers at schools or offer private tuition.
The primary focus of a journalist is to investigate and report on newsworthy stories. There are many English-language journalists globally; however, there aren’t many fluent in two or more languages.
Being a multilingual journalist certainly opens up more career opportunities for you. That’s because you can report on global topics where English-only journalists might struggle – especially in locations where most people don’t speak English as a second language.
International news agencies such as Reuters always welcome reporters that speak one or more foreign languages. And, of course, another advantage of being a multilingual journalist is you get more opportunities to travel the world as part of your job.
3. Working with international police forces
If you have a thirst for getting to the bottom of things, you’ll undoubtedly have natural detective instincts and skills. A role working with global authorities could see you working as part of an international police force, helping them crack down on crime.
Multilingual experts are increasingly sought-after by global authorities to support investigations that span two or more different countries. As you can imagine, language barriers can slow down progress for policing teams, so having a translator on board is certainly beneficial.
4. International Development
Have you always wanted a job where you feel your role really does make a difference in people’s lives? If so, you can confidently look for positions in international development.
In a nutshell, international development involves working in developing countries, helping people to improve infrastructure or prevent disease. It’s a broad area but one that offers opportunities to people with language degrees.
You’ll be temporarily living in the country that you’re helping to develop, and so you’ll learn more about the country’s culture and customs, and find it easier than most to get a grip on a new language quickly.
Arguably one sector where linguists are always in demand is tourism. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the industry contributes around US$8.9 trillion to the world’s GDP and globally keeps one in ten people employed.
While Covid-19 has certainly impacted this industry temporarily, with positive vaccine news breaking in recent weeks, it’s certainly a job opportunity to explore.
There are many career paths for language degree holders to work in the tourism industry. Examples include:
- Tour Manager;
- Tour Guide;
- Hotel Manager;
- Border Control Agent at airports and seaports;
- Air Cabin Crew;
- Aircraft Pilot.
How to develop your bilingual skills
Last but not least, it’s crucial that you keep your newly-developed language skills fresh and current. The best way to do that is by living or working in a country that speaks the foreign language you learned as its official or de-facto language.
However, securing a job where you will need to use your language skills daily is also a significantly valuable way to hone what you’ve already learnt. You can even keep your skills fresh by conversing with family members in your second language at home!