20 Jan 2020
Career Options for Bilingual Speakers
Being able to speak more than one language opens many doors that people who only speak one language can only knock-on. You can speak to more people easily. And the number of places you can go to is larger and more varied because you won’t need a translator. But one of the best benefits of knowing multiple languages is it offers more career opportunities.
Many employers are inclined to hire someone who can communicate in more than one language. And some careers are only available if you are bilingual or multilingual. If you are one of those people who know at least two languages, you may be able to get paid just for knowing more languages. Some careers are obvious, others are considerably more specialized. To get you started, here are a few careers to consider to put that second language to good use.
Professional translators help bridge communication gaps. You can get started as a freelancer and build up a reputation or gain experience to add it to your resume. Keep in mind that this is one of the most difficult jobs.
To be successful, you must have the following three skills. You must be fluent in both languages. You need the same level of writing proficiency for both languages. And you need to have either experience or an academic background for the field you want to enter as a translator. This means knowing the specialized technical jargon and terms that come with the job in both languages.
Knowing a second language does not automatically mean you will be a good translator, no matter how many you know. It requires a certain mindset. And you need plenty of patience and skill because it is a highly competitive field.
Interpreting and translating are actually two different positions. Translating is done in writing, interpreting is done verbally. Interpreting requires the same three skills a translator needs. But you also need to listen to someone speaking while interpreting what is said for a third person or persons.
It can be an incredibly stressful position because interpreting is done in real-time. Translation requires more knowledge of terms and jargon. However, interpreting requires a deep understanding of colloquialisms, sayings, and unique speaking styles. It is a distinctly challenging job that can be incredibly satisfying.
Foreign Language Teacher
If you really want to explore the depths of English, you can become a teacher in a country that speaks your second language. There are many opportunities to teach English in other countries because it is a language used in nearly every industry and field. For some positions, you will have an assistant or someone else who can help you, taking some of the pressure off in the classroom. You can teach adults or children – whichever age group you are more comfortable interacting with on a regular basis.
Nursing is not a field most people consider when they know more than one language. But if you speak two or more languages, you have a greater range of patients you can help. Plus, you can travel to other countries or work in a home where you use your second language.
It will require learning all the medical terms in both languages. But you’ll need to be highly fluent in both languages around medical terms especially to safely do your job.
Subtitles and Voice-Overs
These two positions are types of translating and interpreting but on a very different scale. You’ll deal with scripts mostly. But that can make it a much more intriguing experience, especially if you prefer to work with texts rather than people. The position requires you to know different dialects and colloquialisms. And it can be less stressful than a translating or interpreting position.
There are many voice actors who know several languages so they can perform the same part for several audiences. Working on subtitles will mean working behind the scenes, but it still gives you a hand in working in film and cinema. For those passionate about film and TV, you can choose the job that more closely fits your language abilities.
If you are fluent in one of the romance languages (Spanish, Italian and French), you can become a sommelier or wine steward. If you love wine, it could be the perfect job for you to put your language skills to good use. Sommeliers are professionals who understand the many different aspects of the wine industry, including shipping, storage, and rotation.
They tend to work with restaurants and vineyards in France, Spain, and Italy because these are the top wine producers in the world. Speaking other languages makes sommeliers more valuable to their company because they can access wine knowledge in various target languages. They can also promote wines for an international audience. Sommeliers don’t HAVE to be bilingual. However, it provides an edge over the competition.
If you are interested in sports, you have a chance to travel and meet athletes around the world as a sports recruiter. From major league sports to college recruiting to the Olympics, sports is a major industry around the globe.
Although it can be a highly competitive field, there is nearly limitless potential to find talent. You will get a chance to interact with people who share your athletic passion around the globe. To be successful in this field, it is essential to possess exceptional communication skills and a background in sports.
Like sommeliers, being bilingual isn’t mandatory for the position of the hotel manager. However, provides a distinct advantage over others in the field. Hotel managers fluent in at least two languages are able to provide better customer service and make better deals with vendors. Because they can communicate with a wider audience, they can reach more people. This makes them an asset.
Even in your own country, there’s a high chance you’ll meet a guest who isn’t a native speaker. Knowing other languages means being able to market and cater to a wider range of potential clients. From providing a more personal experience to engaging with a greater number of vendors, you’ll be a top candidate for many hotel chains.
Foreign Service Officer/Diplomats
Also called FSOs, diplomats work in embassies around the world. This means you will have a chance to move around if you speak a language used in several countries. It’s a prestigious position requiring an appointment by the government. But you can serve in an embassy, consulate or foreign mission.
The position requires promoting international trade, conflict resolution, and working for the best interest of the country you represent. Diplomats and their families experience the world in a completely different light because they get a peek behind the international scenes.
Their roles are vital to maintaining relationships between countries. They also help visiting tourists who need assistance. If you are interested in representing your country on an international scale, this is the ideal position.
Flight Attendant/Airline Employee
For those who enjoy customer service and traveling, working with an airline can provide a truly unique experience. Plus getting paid to travel and use your language skills can seem like a dream job. As a bilingual flight attendant, you can help more passage, providing a better flight experience for them.
If you are considering a job as a flight attendant, you’ll need to sleep on a less regular schedule. Traveling to a new country every day or every couple of days can be very disruptive to your natural biorhythms. So, it’s not a good fit for everyone. However, if you enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life and enjoy traveling, this could be the best way to put your skills to good use and enjoy it.
While it technically isn’t a career (it is volunteer work), joining the Peace Corps can be the beginning of a different kind of career. If you want to make a difference while representing your country, the Peace Corps can be ideal. And they’ll put your language skills to good use.
The best part of the Peace Corps is that you can help improve the circumstances of people from around the world. And if you aren’t fluent, you will be given a few weeks to learn or brush up on your language. It may not be enough time to master a language. However, if you already have a solid foundation, it can help you progress more quickly.
Following the training, you’ll spend two years in a country where you can use your language skills every day. If you aren’t fluent now, you will be by the time you finish your volunteer work for the Peace Corps.
Typically, you’ll need to be comfortable with living without modern luxuries. Most places the Peace Corps supports lack modern-day amenities. If you are interested in helping others while working on learning a language, this is one way to spend two years of your life doing something meaningful.
A World of Opportunity
This is not a comprehensive list of all of the possible careers and opportunities a multilingual person can find. Whatever your interests, there is almost certainly a need for it in a country where your second language is spoken. Some jobs will even help you learn other languages and give you the opportunity to live in other countries.
About the writer
Entrepreneur and Linguist, Jonty Yamisha created OptiLingo after his efforts to protect his native language, Circassian, from extinction. Using scientifically proven strategies such as Spaced Repetition and Guided Immersion, OptilLingo has helped thousands finally achieve fluency.
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