Best Foreign Language Jobs

Great Careers If You Are Bilingual

Globalization has resulted in a world that seems to be getting smaller and smaller with each passing year. As goods and services flow more freely internationally, and people immigrate to countries where another language is the primary one, so does the need for workers who are bilingual, or even multilingual.

Here are nine of the best foreign language jobs based on job outlook predictions by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Fluency in a foreign language is mandatory to work in some of these careers—without it, it is impossible to perform the job duties. It is helpful to be bilingual for other occupations on this list, but it is not a requirement for all positions. Fluency in a foreign language, however, may make an applicant a more competitive candidate and will qualify them for a job that requires it.

Interpreters or Translator

Interpreters convert the spoken word from one language to another. Translators do the same with written information. Not only are individuals who pursue this career required to be fluent in both the source and target language, they must also be knowledgeable about both cultures, and the subject matter.

Although a bachelor’s degree isn’t required to be an interpreter or translator, most employers prefer to hire applicants who have one. It doesn’t have to be in a foreign language, though—it can instead be in any field of study. Specialized training is required to work in a hospital or courtroom.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $49,930

Number of People Employed (2016): 68,200

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 18% (much faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 12,100

Foreign Language Post Secondary Teacher

Post secondary teachers of foreign languages teach students above the high school level. They work in community colleges, vocational schools, and four-year colleges and universities. They must be able to read and write in the language in which they specialize, as well as instruct students to do the same.

Most institutions require a doctorate in the language one teaches. Some community colleges and vocational schools may hire a candidate who has only a master’s degree.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $67,640

Number of People Employed (2016): 35,000

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 12% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 4,100

Flight Attendant

A flight attendant’s primary responsibility is the safety of their crew and passengers. They respond to in-flight emergencies. They also tend to passengers’ comfort, serving them snacks, beverages, and sometimes meals. Many airlines favor job candidates who are bilingual or even multilingual.

Some employers prefer applicants who have completed some college courses but, typically, only a high school diploma is needed. Airlines provide three to four weeks of formal training on a specific type of aircraft. Upon completion, a flight attendant must get certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Median Annual Salary (2018): $56,000

Number of People Employed (2016): 116,600

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 10% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 11,900

Chef or Head Cook

Chefs and head cooks prepare food in restaurants and other dining establishments. They also run kitchens, which includes supervising other workers. A working knowledge, if not fluency, in the language spoken by their staff will help them be effective managers.

Chefs and head cooks do not need formal training and can instead learn on the job. However, some choose to attend culinary programs at community colleges, technical schools, culinary arts schools, or four-year colleges. One may also do an apprenticeship.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $48,460

Number of People Employed (2016): 146,500

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 10% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 14,100

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses, also called RNs, care for patients who are ill or recovering from surgery or injuries. Being bilingual can help them in this endeavor. Some positions require it, and it is preferable for others.

RNs need a diploma or associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. To practice, one must graduate from an accredited program and pass a national licensing exam.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $71,730

Number of People Employed (2016): Over 2.9 million

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 15% (much faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 438,100

Doctor

Doctors diagnose and then treat patients’ injuries and illnesses. Like other healthcare professionals, their ability to communicate with patients and their families can benefit from proficiency in a foreign language.

To become a doctor, also called a physician, one must attend medical school after graduating from college. Medical school graduates must then complete a three to eight-year residency. Doctors must be licensed.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $208,000

Number of People Employed (2016): 713,800

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 13% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 91,400

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors treat people who have emotional and mental disorders, as well as addictions. To communicate with their clients, fluency in a foreign language may be helpful and even required by some employers.

A master’s degree in a mental health-related field of study is necessary to be a mental health counselor. Options include clinical mental health counseling, social work, or psychology. A state-issued license is required.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $44,630

Number of People Employed (2016): 157,700

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 23% (much faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 36,500

Physician Assistant

A physician assistant, commonly called a PA, is a primary care professional who examines, diagnoses, and treats patients. Knowledge of a second language can be beneficial.

To enter this field, one must earn a master’s degree from an accredited PA training program after graduating from a four-year college. A professional license is required to practice in all states and the District of Columbia.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $108,610

Number of People Employed (2016): 106,200

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 37% (much faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 39,600

Marketing Manager

A marketing manager is in charge of an organization’s entire marketing team. They predict demand, identify markets, set prices, and develop ways to promote products and services. Fluency in a foreign language, as well as cultural knowledge, is required when marketing products and services abroad.

Most employers require a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Courses in business law, computer science, finance, management, and economics make a job candidate more competitive.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $134,290

Number of People Employed (2016): 218,300

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 10% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 22,100