Since the dawn of time language has been fundamental to the way we interact with one another. When cultures expanded and populations grew, foreign languages were born out of a necessity for local, centralised communication. As time passed and humans became more abundant and advanced, so too did languages. While some languages have died and some are yet to be born, the demand for foreign language skills is only expanding in the modern era.
When contemplating foreign language-related careers, the first choices we think of are most likely that of a translator, interpreter, foreign language teacher or even CEO of a Language Services Company :), but these jobs only scratch the surface of what you can achieve. Of course, any one of these professions is a great option for a language lover, but what if you wanted to cultivate your passion for language doing something a bit more unique or intriguing?
These days talented linguists are not limited to such narrow career paths, and they often have interests beyond just learning, teaching and speaking new languages. Studying languages is known to develop core competencies that appeal to almost every type of professional field giving linguaphiles a plethora of valuable career opportunities that they may have never thought of.
Language enthusiasts are often better at dealing with human interactions. Those that study multiple languages can express and understand different cultural perspectives and communication channels that others may struggle with. Multilingual speakers in many cases have the ability to present information clearly, speak fluidly, read with heightened comprehension, and write effectively where others can not, giving them clear advantages over their working counterparts and peers. Linguists understand boundary differences and show sensitivity toward human issues and can adapt quickly to new and changing environments giving them appeal in employment situations. We’ve also written on this blog about the health benefits of learning another language.
Experienced purveyors of language can dissect dilemmas and analyse different meanings, interpretations and solutions optimally within a variety of situations which makes work easier for all involved. People with a prowess towards language offer work diversity, unique perspectives, and the ability to identify creative solutions to complex problems, all of which go a long way towards improving general working performance. With work skill sets of this calibre, the question then becomes what other areas of expertise can language-lovers thrive and excel in?
Let me review 5 ‘outside the box’ careers that the linguistically-inclined may find fascinating and well suited to their interests.
1. International Flight Attendant
More often than not, those who like languages also like travelling, making the job of international flight attendant another great option for those with the gift of foreign gab. Becoming a flight attendant is not only a great way to travel around the world while being paid but a chance to constantly work on your language skills.
Having the chance to interact with different people from different cultures on a regular basis is a sure way of keeping the passion and pursuit of language learning prevalent in your life. You will get to interact with business people, volunteers, artists, military members, and many other walks of life-giving you ample opportunity to put your language skills to use. Would you find travelling all over the world and serving many types of people intriguing? If the answer is yes, then developing your language skills as an international flight attendant just might be for you.
2. Peace Corps Volunteer
Not so much a career, becoming a Peace Corps volunteer is more of a language, character and resume builder. Not focused on earning money, the value in joining the Peace Corps goes far beyond dollars as it is a chance to serve your country, make an impact around the world, join a powerful global network, and to learn new languages and gain cultural insight while in pursuit of your long term career goals.
Those selected to join the Peace Corps receive several weeks of language training in preparation for their chosen travel destination. While two weeks is never enough time to fully learn a new language, the lingual benefits of being a Peace Corps volunteer do not stop there as you will soon be in a new country practising a new language with the local residents. Most Peace Corps volunteer stints last two years at each location, giving you plenty of opportunities to soak up the native tongue wherever you decide to go. While not lucrative financially, the Peace Corps is a valuable language adventure that any budding professional interested in the art of language would gain from, and be able to use in future endeavours.
Diplomats, also known as Foreign Service Officers (FSO), are the people that staff Embassies worldwide and are responsible for managing government property, assisting international travel, providing consular services, promoting international trade, resolving international conflicts, standing up for foreigner rights and providing points of contact for their respective country and the rest of the world.
So why is a language expert needed for this position? well, for example, U.S. Diplomats are given unparalleled language training at the Foreign Service Institute which is world-renowned for its ability to teach languages. All are required to achieve fluency in a second language before receiving tenure making this the perfect opportunity for any language lover to increase the depth and breadth of their language studies and careers. Think you would enjoy representing your country abroad, travelling to new foreign lands, and being paid to learn new languages for your career? You may want to consider a position as a Diplomat or Foreign Service Officer (FSO).
4. Sports Scout
An interest in language does not mean you have to work as an interpreter, translator or foreign language teacher. There are many paths to success while maintaining a close connection with international communication, and sports is another great example of a rewarding career path that taps into language skills. Sports scouts and recruiters are hired by teams, educational universities and talent agencies to seek out the best prospects in a given athletic niche.
As more and more sports become universally accepted and played, the opportunities to apply language skills are ever-increasing. The ability to communicate is paramount to achievement in the field of international sports scouting and is a great opportunity for any one’s negotiation and persuasion skills to shine. We know that communication is vital to a language lovers arsenal of abilities, so even when dealing with English-speaking athletes, someone adept in language has an advantage. If the idea of travelling the world looking for the new star player for Manchester United sounds good to you, those with a flair for language are often the best candidates for finding that next big hidden international sports superstar.
5. Tour Guide/Travel Agent
Live in a big bustling city? The larger more populated areas tend to be in need of tour guides and travel agents to carryout the respective services in their field. There are many tour guide and travel agent positions that call for frequent interaction with international travellers, providing a variety of language-based work-related opportunities for those interested. Regardless of what profession you do choose to pursue it is important to know that language lovers do have a stable of outside the box options to choose from.
Language will forever be a part of the interwoven fabric of human life which is what makes it so valuable when it comes to professional pursuits. While some jobs place a greater emphasis on learning new languages than others, we can all enhance ourselves, as well as our careers, by increasing our knowledge of language and by adding new languages into our work-related repertoires.
Do you make use of your language skills in your current job position? How could you use language to improve your work? What alternative careers do you think are ideal for language-lovers with other areas of interest?
I would love to hear from you!