It’s good news for skilled language speakers, with public organisations and private employees around the world clamouring for people fluent in foreign tongues. From lawyer to procurement specialist, language skills are in demand and can be used in almost any career.
According to a report on the new American workplace, fluency in a foreign language the hottest job skill, with translators and interpreters expected to be one of the 15 fastest growing occupations in the USA.
Department of Labor experts reckon that there will be roughly 25,000 new jobs for interpreters and translators between 2010 and 2020, not including the military.
So which languages are most in demand? In international government jobs, its Middle Eastern languages such as Arabic, Farsi and Pashto (Afghani). In the private sector, it’s Scandinavian and Asian languages that pay best.
In the private sector, companies like Amazon and Apple use translators in their customer services and technical teams, with languages like Korean, Mexican Spanish and Chinese in great demand.
So how can you acquire the expert standard you need to get one of these top jobs?
Most modern language degree courses offer the option of a year abroad (usually close to the end). If you choose to do a work placement during this year, try and find one in a career you are interested in and take the opportunity to develop your transferable, as well as your language, skills.
Many graduates wanting a long-term career using their languages take on a short-term role, such as teaching English, while living in another country and perfecting their language skills. Others take short-term roles in the tourism and leisure industry.
Another option is to choose a career in interpreting or translating. Most of this work is now done on a freelance basis. To get yourself established, it really need some experience behind you, perhaps as a volunteer. Self-employment requires great contacts and the ability to market yourself. Having an interesting mix of languages will also be attractive to potential clients.
Written by Juliet Allaway