Top 16 Jobs for Language Majors

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published October 27, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published October 27, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're an avid communicator or want to find a job that involves working with a diverse population of people, consider earning a language major in college. Knowing what this major provides you and what language major jobs are available, you can select the education program or find a career that suits your professional goals. In this article, we explore what a language major is, why people pursue this major and what careers for foreign language majors and language degree jobs are out there.

What is a language major?

A language major studies the principles of communication in a specific language, including written, spoken and nonverbal communication. Professionals who earn a degree in a foreign language typically take courses in:

  • A specific language or multiple foreign languages, such as Spanish, French, Japanese, Mandarin, German, Italian or Arabic

  • Foreign literature

  • Political science

  • International studies and culture

  • World history

  • Communication

During their studies, a language major develops skills and knowledge in the following key areas:

  • Interpersonal and intercultural communication

  • Empathy

  • Cultural sensitivity

  • Analysis and critical thinking

  • Writing

  • Reading comprehension

  • Active listening

Why pursue a language major

People typically pursue this major because they are interested in:

  • Working in international business, government or healthcare

  • Working in business, government or healthcare organizations that serve culturally diverse populations

  • Being a teacher abroad or of a foreign language

  • Traveling for work

  • Working in the travel and hospitality industry

  • Working with people from different culture and language backgrounds

Jobs for language majors

There are many different careers you can pursue with a degree in a foreign language. Some may require additional education, training and experience, but here is a list of jobs to consider if you majored in a language:

1. Bilingual customer service associate

National Average Salary: $14.06 per hour

Primary Duties: A bilingual customer service associate provides customer support over the phone or via online chat for people who speak languages other than English. They answer questions and provide solutions regarding customer transactions and accounts, purchasing, product or service errors and other general product support. A language major can apply a variety of general communication skills and knowledge of other languages to assist customers.

Related: Learn About Being a Customer Service Associate

2. Bilingual call center representative

National Average Salary: $14.47 per hour

Primary Duties: A bilingual call center representative works in a call center taking or making phone calls to customers who speak languages other than English. Depending on the purpose of the call center, these professionals may provide technical support, handle customer transactions and accounts or sell products and services. Anyone with a language major may be able to use their written and verbal communication skills in a specific language to help resolve customer issues and make sales.

Related: Learn About Being a Call Center Representative

3. Tour guide

National Average Salary: $17.19 per hour

Primary Duties: Though specific duties depend on their employer and industry, a tour guide leads groups of people around a location, providing facts and answering questions about the landmarks, buildings, sites and general area. Their primary goals are to be a source of information, entertain tours and keep groups safe. They may work in a museum or art gallery, for a hospitality company or independently. Language majors can provide tours in any language they're proficient or fluent in, and they can use their history and culture knowledge to inform their tours.

4. Intelligence analyst

National Average Salary: $41,945 per year

Primary Duties: An intelligence analyst collects, assesses and develops insights from information to improve security measures for an organization. Specific responsibilities may depend on the industry and organization in which they work, but these professionals are typically in charge of monitoring technology and other forms of digital communication, identifying security breaches and flaws in security systems that could lead to them and making recommendations to improve overall security. With the need for keen research abilities, an in-depth understanding of communication and international fluency, intelligence analysts could benefit from pursuing a language major.

Related: Learn About Being an Intelligence Analyst

5. English as a second language teacher

National Average Salary: $22.30 per hour

Primary Duties: An English as a second language (ESL) teacher leads classes or lessons in the English language to people who speak other languages. These education professionals can teach non-English speakers in English-speaking countries, abroad or online. They instruct students of all ages on grammar, vocabulary, writing, conversation and culture skills. Language majors can apply their knowledge of language arts, writing and culture to teach students.

Related: Learn About Being a Teacher

6. Translator

National Average Salary: $46,787 per year

Primary Duties: A translator takes written content in one language and converts it into another. They can work for a variety of organizations across many different industries, and they are often responsible for having fluency in one or more foreign languages, conducting research to better understand cultural factors in translation and ensuring the content they translate is accurate, easy-to-read and loyal to the original message. A language major who is fluent in one or more foreign languages can apply their writing expertise, reading comprehension skills and cultural awareness to this role.

7. Travel agent

National Average Salary: $47,478 per year

Primary Duties: A travel agent plans trips for clients, arranging air and land transportation, finding lodging accommodations and booking activities and excursions. They collaborate with their clients in determining goals, interests and budgets, secure the best deals and opportunities and create agendas for trips. Language majors can use their cultural knowledge, communication skills and active listening to succeed in this position.

Related: Learn About Being a Travel Agent

8. Immigration paralegal

National Average Salary: $47,489 per year

Primary Duties: An immigration paralegal supports an immigration lawyer by preparing documents and evidence for trial, conducting case research, interviewing clients and witnesses and monitoring important decisions in immigration law. Professionals with a language degree may be able to more effectively communicate with clients who speak other languages, use their writing, speaking and research skills to help lawyers build the best cases and apply cultural sensitivity to best provide support to clients.

Related: Learn About Being a Paralegal

9. Tutor

National Average Salary: $24.47 per hour

Primary Duties: A tutor assists students in improving their knowledge in a specific subject. These education professionals can work in small groups or one-on-one with students of nearly any age, from elementary school students to adult learners, on homework, projects, test prep and overall skill improvement. Language majors can apply keen communication skills and empathy to help students succeed, or they can apply their knowledge of writing, language arts, history, English or a foreign language to help a student in one or more of those subjects.

Related: Learn About Being a Tutor

10. Foreign language teacher

National Average Salary: $57,272 per year

Primary Duties: A foreign language teacher works at a school or in a community organization to teach students how to write, read and converse in another language with a focus on grammar, vocabulary, conversation, writing, listening and reading comprehension skills. Language majors who are fluent in a foreign language can pursue a teaching certification or relevant qualification to teach that language in a school.

11. Medical interpreter

National Average Salary: $25.71 per hour

Primary Duties: A medical interpreter translates written or spoken information from a healthcare provider to a patient. These professionals may convert written diagnosis notes, test results or other instructions, transcribe recorded notes or accompany a patient to an appointment and translate what the provider says to the patient in their native or preferred language. Language majors can use their knowledge of a foreign language to work in a hospital, private practice or another healthcare facility to provide these services.

12. Copywriter

National Average Salary: $61,852 per year

Primary Duties: A copywriter creates content like articles, blogs, social media copy, website information and product descriptions that promotes a brand and encourages audience engagement. These professionals can work in many different industries around the world, and companies with international or diverse audiences, consumers or business partners can benefit from having bilingual copywriters on staff. Language majors can use their knowledge of a foreign language, writing skills, research skills and empathy to create engaging and effective content.

13. Customs officer

National Average Salary: $68,990 per year

Primary Duties: A customs officer works at an international airport, seaport or other travel points to inspect luggage and cargo from travelers for unclaimed imports or illegal goods. These law enforcement professionals can benefit from having a language degree and the communication, culture, foreign language and political science knowledge and skills developed in that program.

14. Director of people and culture

National Average Salary: $78,602 per year

Primary Duties: A director of people and culture is an upper-level management role that oversees an organization's company culture and the policies, goals and budgeting that go into creating and improving it. They may help set mission and vision statements for the company and lead the establishment and implementation of HR policies and procedures, employee engagement programs, continued learning and skill-building funds and hiring and training processes. They may also handle conflicts and improvements in hiring diversity and discrimination. A language major can apply their cultural awareness and sensitivity and communication skills alongside years of management experience to lead in this role.

15. Investment analyst

National Average Salary: $90,734 per year

Primary Duties: An investment analyst collects information, conducts research and critically reviews various financial assets to identify investment opportunities for clients or employers like businesses or investors. They must present their findings, including the regulations, goals, limitations and benefits of each opportunity. Since they often specialize in a niche field, such as assets from a certain geographic area, they may benefit from a language degree in addition to their education and experience in finance and the research abilities, communication skills and political science and culture knowledge they develop. With many investments happening internationally, knowledge of a foreign language can make these professionals more effective and competitive in the industry.

16. Travel nurse

National Average Salary: $1,734 per week

Primary Duties: A travel nurse works in hospitals, clinics and other facilities around the country or world. They typically work on a short-term contract at one facility, provide care to patients and support to understaffed medical teams and then leave to fulfill another contract at a different facility. Depending on the nurse's specialization and experience as well as the facility's needs, their duties may include checking patient vitals, dressing wounds, assisting physicians with complex procedures, prepping patients for surgery and educating patients on treatment and overall wellness. A travel nurse can benefit from a language degree because of the empathy, cultural sensitivity and foreign language skills they develop in that program.

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