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Careers using Foreign Languages

Proficiency in one or more foreign languages is a useful skill in a wide range of careers. We can break these down into what we might call “Language Specialists” and “Language Plus” career fields.

Language Specialist Careers

Translators translate written material: product manuals, technical support information, business reports, correspondence, legal or medical documents, website, films subtitles, song lyrics, literature, etc.

Simultaneous interpreters - conferences and meetings - speaking a translation into a microphone so delegates can understand what's going on. Usually translating from L2 to L1.

Consecutive interpreters - giving a translation after speakers have spoken. Smaller meetings, discussions between politicians, business people and journalists, in courtrooms and hospitals. Translate from L1 to L2, and back. Should know discussion topics (i.e. politics, medical terms).

Language teachers - teaching a foreign language to learners who share your L1, or teaching your L1 to speakers of other languages (EFL/ESL). Study language & Education at University; ESL Certification; Study abroad!

Linguists study the nature and characteristics of human language. Many fields. Linguists work for universities, high tech companies, research institutions, consulting firms, government, and the military.

Adapted from: http://www.omniglot.com/language/careers.htm

“Language Plus” Careers – Language proficiency enhances other qualifications and skills. More and more employers are looking for employees with second language skills in today’s multinational global marketplace.

The Arts

  • Artist / Artist manager
  • Filmmaker
  • Cultural Events Coordinator
  • Art Dealer
  • Art Historian
  • Museum Curator
  • Musician
  • Multilingual Singer / Recording Specialist


  • Advertising/PR for foreign markets
  • Editor
  • Foreign Correspondent / News
  • Photographer
  • International Communications
  • Media Specialist
  • "Voice of America" Writer/Editor


  • Botanical Medicine Specialist
  • Disaster Relief
  • Doctors / nurses working with minority populations
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Hospital Management & Admissions
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Tropical Disease Specialist
  • Medial missions (doctor/nurses)


  • Advertising Copywriter
  • Advertising Manager
  • International Buyer (i.e. fashion)
  • Finance Director
  • Importer/Exporter
  • International Account Manager
  • International Business Manager
  • International Consultant
  • International Lawyer
  • International Sales Representative
  • International Trade Specialist
  • Market Researcher
  • Overseas Personnel or Plant Manager
  • Paralegal
  • Patent Attorney
  • Personnel Manager
  • Public Relations Expert
  • Quality Control Supervisor
  • Receptionists / Administrative Assistant
  • Sales Personnel
  • Accountant in ethnic communities
  • Bilingual Teller
  • International Banking Officer
  • International Finance Consultant


  • Bilingual Staff in Federal Agencies
    (e.g. Social Security, Red Cross, etc.)
  • Court Interpreter
  • Customs/Immigration Officer
  • Foreign Diplomat / Cultural Attaché
  • Foreign Exchange Trader
  • Foreign Service Officer
  • Intelligence Specialist
  • National Security Agent
  • Peace Corps Volunteer
  • U.S. Customs / NSA Agent
  • UNESCO Official

Information Services

  • Classifier of foreign documents
  • Copywriter / Editor
  • Librarian
  • Library Acquisition Specialist
  • Publishing Specialist

Social Services

  • Bilingual Police Officer
  • Bilingual Social Worker
  • Court Interpreter
  • Immigration Counselor
  • International Police Officer
  • Defense Attorneys
  • Nursing in ethnic communities
  • Missionary

Travel Services

  • Airline Flight Attendants
  • Airport Personnel
  • Foreign Travel Advisor
  • Hotel and Resort Staff Manager
  • International Conference Planner
  • Restaurant Staff / Manager
  • Tour Guide
  • Travel Writer