Five Career Routes that Make the Most of a Language Qualification

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If you are fortunate enough to be bilingual or fluent in another language, consider yourself lucky. People who can speak more than one language are better multitaskers because they process information much more efficiently.

That is why employers prefer to hire candidates with a language qualification on their resume, even if their company does not routinely do business overseas or deal with speakers of other languages.

After working so hard to earn your qualifications, you might wonder where best to apply your talent for languages. Obvious career paths come to mind: as a language teacher, translator, or interpreter. If you earned your MBA or a Master’s degree in any other subject, you might focus your job search on businesses that transact internationally.

You may even forge your path as a Superprof, an online language tutor with students around the world. You could teach English as well as your other language(s).

If none of those opportunities strikes you as just what you’re looking for, consider these five career paths.

1. Archaeologist/Anthropologist

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All visions of Indiana Jones aside, these professionals dedicate their lives to studying cultures and past civilizations. A sub-specialty of this field is linguistic anthropology; how would you like to research how languages formed and evolved?

If you could better see yourself working as an archaeologist, speaking another language is vital. This profession calls for a lot of travel; you will also need to understand native folklore and traditions to grasp the significance of anything you might dig up.

If you’re in charge of the dig, speaking that country’s language will make it easier to communicate with everyone working the site because such endeavors commonly hire native talent. You will have to understand local laws and negotiate with local authorities for permits, too.

2. Flight Attendant

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According to the website TalentLyft, all flight attendants must be fluent in English but if you’re fluent in another language, that is a huge point in your favor.

Although flight attendants are the ones to serve travelers’ food and drink, they are far from merely waiting staff in the sky. Flight attendants are first responders in any cabin emergency, no matter how dire. They are responsible for passenger safety and ensuring travelers’ compliance with all relevant aviation regulations.

Flight attendants embody the airline companies’ customer care pledge so, if you love traveling as much as interacting with people, why not use your language skills to enrich your airline’s customers’ experience while jetting off to far-flung destinations?

3. Travel Agent

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A surprising number of people would never consider boarding an airplane. If you’re among those numbers but still would like to work in the travel industry, consider becoming a travel agent.

These jobs are not as passé as you might think!

Despite the convenience of internet booking sites’ travel packages, a substantial number of travelers would rather have a professional sort out their vacation itinerary for them. As you speak more than one language, you might plan clients’ special occasions – anything from their wedding arrangements to reunion accommodations directly with your counterpart in another country.

Those aren’t the only instances where bilingual travel agents shine. Let’s say visitors to our country need assistance or are curious about booking tours and finding attractions. Here, too, your language skills would be invaluable.

4. Hotelier

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Sticking with the travel and hospitality industry, how about working in a major hotel’s guest services department?

On the surface, listening to guest complaints and resolving their issues might sound like an unpleasant way to spend your workday. But think about how hotel guests who don’t speak English feel when they have an issue to take up with hotel management and there’s nobody who can understand them?

Besides, working in guest services is not all about dealing with distressed hotel occupants. You may help out at the front desk, checking clients in and generally ensuring that their stay is as pleasant, comfortable and memorable as possible.

If you live in a particularly touristy area, you may even pitch yourself as a hotel tour guide for guests who speak the same languages as you.

5. Outreach and Social Work

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If you lean more toward philanthropy, outreach efforts and social work might be the career path for you.

You may, for instance, work in health or legal clinics, helping people fill out forms or talking with them to find out what they need. If the prospect of working in a small clinic doesn’t sound too exciting, you might prefer a post in a hospital or government office, especially those that handle affairs for non-English speakers.

Speaking of working for the government, have you thought about foreign service? Our country has embassies around the world, each one staffed with a mix of local talent and bilingual people like you.

For the most part, foreign service positions are neither high-profile nor political. You wouldn’t be tasked with conducting negotiations or speaking for our government in your host country, but processing visa applications and performing other bureaucratic functions would fall within your scope of responsibility.

Back to more altruistic work, now.

Keep in mind that social workers undergo special training and are generally required to have at least an undergraduate degree but nothing says you couldn’t team up with a certified social worker to help bring comfort and relief to speakers of other languages.

The same goes for working in a law clinic. Generally, people who work in such enterprises have studied law but, because of our increasingly diverse society, these firms find they need speakers of other languages to talk with their non-native clients.

You may have already had a career goal in mind when you set out to learn your second language. If so, congratulations! We hope your future is as bright as you worked hard to make it. However, if you took on that language learning adventure unsure where you wanted to go with it, perhaps these five career fields can help you decide.