7 Types of Jobs For Language Majors

You’ll find language graduates filling crucial positions throughout our global economy, using their languages and the skills that go along with them to help them in their role.

Check out this post to learn about six types of jobs you can do as a language major.


7 Diverse Jobs that Are Perfect for Language Majors

1. Helping Others See the World: Travel and Tourism Jobs for Language Lovers

Jobs in hotels and hospitality are good ways to get your foot in the door of travel and tourism, but the language major’s employment opportunities in travel and tourism are only limited by the imagination.

Package tours require tour guides, event bookers, accountants and HR personnel. Cruise ships hire everything from entertainers and photographers to chefs and waiters. Airlines need flight attendants to staff their flights and social media managers to Tweet across languages.

In the travel and tourism industries, your language skills and your intimate knowledge of a country or region make you a shoo-in for the job. You can get started in the travel and tourism industry by looking for entry-level positions on cruise ships and in hotel chains, and keep branching out from there.

2. Helping Others Help Themselves: International Development and Aid Jobs for the Linguistically Talented

When you hear inspiring stories about an impoverished community developing its own water purification system or community organizations providing small loans to female entrepreneurs, what you don’t hear about is the work that went on behind the scenes.

Normally three or four or more different NGOs and aid organizations come together to implement a project like this, and these organizations must be staffed by people who understand the realities of what’s going on on the ground in the communities they’re working in. This requires a knowledge of both local language and culture.

You might start out as a volunteer or intern, or even something like the Country Program Officer for Mozambique in a smaller organization working in Southeast Africa. Later you could move on to head up a program working with internally-displaced peoples in Brazil with a big organization like the UN Development Program.

It’s not only your Portuguese language skills that equipped you for these jobs. Your proven ability to work with people across cultures and socioeconomic barriers is what really gets the job done.

3. Getting the Word Out Across Languages: Marketing Jobs for Language Majors

Nowadays brands are international, and those who aren’t yet are headed that way. The lifeblood of these global businesses is the multilingual marketers and writers who know just how to perfectly tailor their message to their audience.

Big brands like Apple and BMW aren’t just throwing together a couple of advertisements and sending them out around the world. Talking a German into buying a car or a computer is a different deal than marketing those same products to Brits or Hong Kongers.

These companies can’t survive without people who “speak the language” of their target customers, and language majors happen to both understand cultural value systems and purchasing behaviors and literally speak the language of the people they’re marketing to.

From bloggers to community managers to heads of corporate communications, language majors are among the best-qualified candidates for the job.

You can search for international marketing jobs, or just head to the Careers page of just about any company or brand that’s got offices in multiple countries, and you’re likely to come across some descriptions of an “ideal candidate” that sound a lot like you.

4. Teaching, Designing, Developing and Policy-making: From Language Majors to Educators

The world of education is one of the biggest employers of language majors.

Education isn’t very educational when the educator doesn’t understand the educated. That’s why language majors make great educators. Those who have studied a foreign language and culture in depth are better prepared to understand the challenges faced by the communities they work with and what kind of education is needed to overcome those challenges.

Foreign language teachers are just the tip of the iceberg here: curriculum developers, policy makers and educational administrators need to analyze trends and learning outcomes in their social and cultural contexts, and this requires more than just a crash course in the local language.

Fresh graduates often get started with a year teaching abroad found on sites like Dave’s ESL Cafe, and those with a bit more experience behind the podium can find administrative jobs on sites like TeachAway or with local governments and international organizations.

5. Reporting from the Ground: Journalism Jobs for Language Students

The daily news cycle relies on on-the-ground journalists engaging with locals and pulling trends and analysis out of what they see around them, and few professionals will be as prepared for these kinds of tasks as those who majored in a foreign language in university.

The entire field of journalism would collapse in on itself without reporters who speak the local languages of the areas they’re covering, but as with the other fields listed here, that’s only the beginning of the reason language majors do well in this field.

The real asset is the ability to understand and empathize with the people they encounter, and no one can do this like multilinguals who have spent years studying and interacting with foreign cultures.

Many of us have dreamed of being the glamorous foreign correspondent, but don’t forget that interpreters, informants, researchers and writers also all need to be well-informed and able to engage productively with communities.

Furthermore, the big media internationals like CNN and the BBC have entire departments with everything from production to editorial jobs being carried out by the linguistically talented and culturally sensitive.

6. Extending Services to the Linguistically Marginalized: Government Jobs for Multilinguals

Most of the countries that make up today’s world map are multilingual, and most of them also have a dominant majority language. Even when there’s a clear majority language like in the United States, the government is still obligated to work for all its citizens, and that’s why people able to work with linguistically marginalized communities are becoming more and more important all the time.

From healthcare services, to community outreach, to youth employment programs, to immigrant and refugee support, governments need people who are sensitive to the needs and norms of their minority communities to make sure they receive the services they’re entitled to.

Somalian or Kurdish may seem like odd languages to study, but the first is in desperate need for serving Minneapolis’s large Somali refugee community, and the second could be a stepping stone to working in job training or health screening programs with Nashville’s Little Kurdistan community.

7. Advancing Our Understanding of Language: Academic Jobs for Language Majors

If you really just love languages and learning about them, what makes them work, and how they’re so inexorably intertwined with culture, you don’t have to stop learning after graduation.

Most of what you learned during your degree program was the product of academics working in universities, think tanks, and other scientific institutes, and many or even most of them started out as curious language students like you.

For jobs like these you’ll almost always need a PhD, which could cost you anywhere from three to seven years or more depending on what linguistic field you focus on and where you go to study it. The best part is that you can choose what you like and go with it.

If modern Russian literature is your thing, there’s a degree program for that, and if sociolinguistics or dialectology grabs you, there’s a program for that as well.

At the end of that long academic road you’ll find a job as Professor of Linguistics, Research Fellow in Turkic Languages or any number of other titles at universities, think tanks and research institutes.

If you choose this career path, you’ll be giving back to the language students of tomorrow, whose degrees will only open up more and more opportunities as the world continues to go global.


Even outside of traditional education, there’s a wealth of resources out there for the taking – anything from vocab drillers like Memrise to virtual immersion programs like FluentU.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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Language learning apps like these also let you review what you’ve learned and get some focused practice on specific skills.

The reasons language majors do so well in the seven fields above is their skillset: not just being multilingual, but having communication, critical thinking, analytical and cultural skills that make them the perfect employees in a world where everyone’s speaking everyone else’s language as we all try to get the job done together.

And One More Thing...

If you dig the idea of learning on your own time from the comfort of your smart device with real-life authentic language content, you'll love using FluentU.

With FluentU, you'll learn real languages—as they're spoken by native speakers. FluentU has a wide variety of videos as you can see here:

FluentU has interactive captions that let you tap on any word to see an image, definition, audio and useful examples. Now native language content is within reach with interactive transcripts.

Didn't catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? Hover your mouse over the subtitles to instantly view definitions.

You can learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU's "learn mode." Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.

And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You get a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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