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Foreign Language Degrees Prepare You for Much More Than Teaching

Jun 28, 2008
Most people associate a foreign language degree with teaching, assuming that someone with a Bachelor's degree in Spanish, French, Japanese or some other foreign language will teach the language. Most students with fluency in a second language, however, pursue career options that focus on the private sector or government service. In fact, having a degree in a foreign language makes you marketable in almost any field within today's global economy.

Teaching is a time-honored career for anyone fluent in a foreign language, but it isn't the only career option. If you have a degree in a second language and you enjoy traveling and experiencing the culture associated with another language, the travel industry offers lots of opportunities. Bilingual tour guides and escort/interpreters are always needed by international touring companies.

If you also have a degree or choose to take course concentrations in medical or legal courses, you will be sought after by international law firms, medical foundations, and research facilities. These corporations need fluent translators and interpreters to handle both written and verbal communications.

Translators, particularly those who focus on written communication, are also in demand for international publishing houses. If you are interested in literature and love to read, this is a position that would be ideal for you. Fluency in the language of the author, an ability to maintain the voice of the author, and an understanding of the culture are all attributes needed for a good translator in the publishing industry.

The United States Department of State hires people every year for posts all over the world. These Foreign Service specialists include administrative professionals, civil engineers, information technology specialists, security forces and education specialists. For these types of positions, a double major in a foreign language combined with a scientific degree can be in particularly high demand.

Within the United States, more and more occupations such as those in the legal, criminal justice and the medical fields are seeing the need for professionals who are culturally aware. Individuals in need of legal advice or medical attention who don't speak English as their first language are more likely to feel comfortable with someone who is fluent in their first language. Ultimately, knowing their language puts them at ease and can also make it easier to help them.

If you are interested in commerce, marketing or sales, the import/export market is an ideal arena for you. Fluency in a foreign language will enable you to negotiate cultural differences, language barriers and handle customs issues with ease. A degree in a foreign language goes far beyond fluency in a particular language, although it certainly immerses you in the language. By devoting yourself to the study of a language at the college level, you are devoting yourself to moving beyond "book learning". You'll learn the language in its proper context, including accents, regional dialects, slang and the evolution of cultural changes.

Foreign language majors also study the literature, culture, history and national identities of the countries' languages that they study. The nuances of diplomacy, negotiation and tolerance are highly marketable skills that employers are looking for in the global marketplace. If you have a flair for languages and a passion for other cultures, a foreign language degree is an excellent goal to pursue. You will delight in a wide range of career opportunities available to you upon your graduation.
About the Author
Andy West is a writer for Career College Choice and Career College Zone .
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