What Can I Do With A Foreign Language Degree?

"I grew up in Japan since my parents were both English teachers there. I am now back in the United States for college and have decided to enroll in a German language program with a minor in French. By the time I finish, I expect to know how to read, speak and write in German and French in addition to my fluency in English and Japanese. Aside from being an interpreter, what can I do with my foreign language degree?"

asked by Rick P. from Great Falls, Montana

Knowledge of a foreign language or languages is always an advantage. It will actually open more career opportunities for you than what you had initially thought possible.

A foreign language degree is most often used in a career as an interpreter. Large organizations like the United Nations, governments and the military employ interpreters in a wide variety of languages .They work in events and activities where their expertise in the foreign language is needed. This can include conferences, trials and even meetings.

If you are very adept at a certain language, you can work as a simultaneous interpreter. In this career, you will be working in big conferences and listening to speakers delivering their speech in their native language in a soundproof cubicle. While the delegate is talking, you will also be interpreting what is said in real time to the target language. This job pays more than of consecutive interpreting or interpreting only after a person has said his piece in small meetings but can be highly demanding.

Law enforcement agencies have need for interpreters so if you want a more exciting career, you can consider working for them. For instance, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hires language officers for their National Clandestine Service to support their worldwide operations. They also hire foreign language instructors to teach their agents various languages so they will be equipped to communicate with the people in the countries where they will be assigned in.

Other law enforcement agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency also have need for foreign language specialists. If you want to work as a police officer or a border patrol agent, knowledge of a foreign language would also be considered an asset.

You can also make use of your foreign language degree as a translator of written material. In this career, you will be producing business reports, legal documents and product manuals to a foreign language. This career basically requires native level fluency of the language you will be translating to as well as a very good grasp and understanding of the source language to ensure that the translation is accurate.

You can also use your foreign language degree in the field of education. Schools offering foreign languages in their curriculum will hire foreign language teachers. You may need to obtain professional teaching qualifications in addition to your foreign language degree if you view teaching as a long-term career.

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