Foreign Language

Main Content

banner 5 state
Foreign Language
Area Employers Strategies

Government

  • Translation/Interpretation

  • Journalism/Broadcasting

  • Linguistics

  • Diplomacy

  • Civil Service

  • Foreign Service

  • Immigration/Naturalization

  • Customs

  • Intelligence/Law

  • Enforcement

Federal government organizations including:

Overseas aid agencies

Intelligence and law enforcement agencies: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Drug Enforcement Administration

Department of State

Immigration and Naturalization Service

Customs Service

Library of Congress

Armed forces

Voice of America

Learn federal, state and local job application procedures. Plan to attend a specialized school that teaches foreign languages. Join armed forces as a way to get experience. The government is one of the largest employers of people with foreign language skills

Arts, Media, Entertainment

  • Advertising

  • Translation/Interpretation

  • Journalism/Broadcasting

  • Publishing/Editing

  • Public Relations

Museums

Foreign news agencies

Book publishers

TV networks

Radio stations

Film companies

Learn about the customs and culture of the country in which your language of study is primarily spoken. Spend time studying or working abroad. Read international newspapers to keep up with developments overseas.

Industry and Commerce

  • Translation/Interpretation

  • Banking/Finance

  • Sales

  • Customer Services

  • Manufacturing

  • Engineering/Technical

  • Research

  • Operations Management

  • Consulting

  • Imports/Exports

  • Administrative Services

Banks/Financial institutions

Import/Export companies

Foreign firms operating in the U.S.

American firms operating in foreign countries

Manufacturers

Retail stores

Supplement coursework with business classes. Gain experience through an internship or work abroad program. Find out which companies do business with the countries in which your language of study is spoken. Be prepared to start in a position in the US working for a firm with an overseas presence. Very few entry-level positions are available in international business.

Travel and Tourism

  • Translation/Interpretation

  • Airline Services

  • Management

  • Booking and Reservations

  • Travel

  • Services/Guidance

Tour and excursion companies

Travel agencies

Hotels/Motels 

Resorts

Restaurants

Airlines/Airports

Cruise lines

Railroads

Bus lines

Convention Centers

Take courses in hotel/restaurant administration. Get a part-time job in a hotel or restaurant to gain experience. Spend some time abroad to learn the traditions of fine dining, wines, etc. Brush up on your knowledge of geography . Plan to attend a travel school. Develop office skills such as typing, organizing, and working with computers. Read international newspapers to keep up with overseas developments.

Interpretation/Translation

  • Interpretation: Simultaneous , Consecutive, Conference, Escort/Guide, Judiciary

  • Translation: Literary, Localization, Medical

Freelance

Educational services

Business services

Government agencies

Healthcare organizations

International organizations

Courts

Publishers

Develop a "near perfect" knowledge of a second language. Seek out any opportunity to converse with native speakers to better learn the language. Gain experience through internships or volunteering. Learn a third language for great job opportunities. Develop aptitude with computers and the Internet. Most people who work in this field freelance. Freelancers who have expertise in a particular area such as law or medicine may find more opportunities. Seek certification or accreditation from an interpretation/translation organization.

Service and Education

  • Translation/Interpretation

  • Teaching

  • Educational

  • Administration

  • Linguistics

  • Civil Service

  • Social Work

  • Mission Work

  • Library Science

  • Health Services

Hospitals

Religious and volunteer organizations

International organizations

Law enforcement agencies

Social service agencies

Universities/Colleges

Pre-schools

K-12 schools

Professional language schools

English language institutes

Overseas dependents' schools

Obtain state teacher licensure for K-12 teaching. Develop superior written and oral communication skills in the English language including proper sentence structure and comprehensive vocabulary. Notify local hospitals, schools, and chambers of commerce of your availability to translate or interpret for international visitors. Minor or double major in another subject that you could also teach. Consider teaching English in another country. Service and Education. 

Obtain a graduate degree for college or university teaching opportunities. Get experience by becoming a teaching assistant or tutor. Be familiar with the cultural base of your language (literature, art, politics, etc.) as well as with cultural traditions. Specialize in an area of research. Plan to take both written and oral examinations to become an interpreter. Get a part-time job teaching English as a second language. Volunteer with government programs such as Peace Corps or VISTA.

Strategies for placement in Foreign Language

  • Choose an additional academic area of study to supplement the foreign language, preferably one that requires a high degree of technical skill. Most people with foreign language ability use those skills to assist them in a different career field such as business, education, etc.

  • Related courses to study include geography, history, civilization, foreign relations, international law, and world economics.

    Decide and choose which language is necessary for your career. Decide the level of foreign language ability you will need to acquire for success in your career. Possible languages to study: Spanish, German, French, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Hebrew, Arabic and Portuguese.

  • Related courses to study include geography, history, civilization, foreign relations, international law, and world economics.

    Decide and choose which language is necessary for your career. Decide the level of foreign language ability you will need to acquire for success in your career. Possible languages to study: Spanish, German, French, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Hebrew, Arabic and Portuguese.

  • Plan to attend a private language institute to learn additional languages and cultures.

  • Travel to a foreign country or study abroad in international exchange programs to learn different cultures.

  • Study and practice your foreign language skills by reading foreign newspapers, magazines and books.

  • Watch foreign movies and listen to foreign broadcasts to maintain your fluency.

  • Volunteer your language skills to churches, community organizations and programs that work with people who speak your target language.

  • Participate in summer programs, co-ops, and internships to improve your skills.

  • Pen pal with a correspondent from a foreign country.

  • Contact professional associations and read their publications to learn about job opportunities.

  • Research job postings on the Internet to get an idea of jobs in which knowledge of a foreign language is useful.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section
504/ADA /ADEA Employer.

Links

Foreign Policy Association Student Corner
English as a Second Language
One Small Planet 
Overseas Employment Opportunities 
Overseas Jobs 
Bilingual Jobs 
English as a Second Language Job Center 
American Translators Association 
The Riley Guide International Resources 
Lat Pro 
Trabajos (in Spanish) 
Electronic Network for Latin American Careers and Employment 
Peace Corps