Foreign Language and Literature
Certain employers, such as government agencies, prefer to hire people who are proficient in at least one foreign language. In fact, the study of foreign languages and literature may provide a well-rounded and valuable experience for career development regardless of field. For those interested in pursuing a career strictly in foreign language and literature, careers as an educator, translator or interpreter are available options.
Inside Foreign Language and Literature
In general, the study of foreign language and literature entails knowing about foreign cultures, history, political systems and ideologies, as well as at least one foreign language. An undergraduate degree program in French, for example, might include courses in film and theatre, contemporary culture, writing styles, gender studies, globalization and various styles of literature. The most common careers in foreign language and literature include postsecondary teaching, interpreting and translating.
As a teacher at a 4-year institution or junior college, much of the time is spent educating students, preparing lectures and grading students' work. Tenured positions typically require candidates to possess a doctoral degree, but a bachelor's degree is generally suitable to enter the field and begin teaching. In addition, those interested in this profession should possess excellent communication skills, have a strong desire to learn and be self-motivated. Working as a graduate teaching assistant can provide experience while pursuing a doctorate.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual earnings of foreign language and literature postsecondary teachers in May 2010 was $66,520 (www.bls.gov). There's a considerable amount of competition for jobs amongst postsecondary teachers. Possessing a doctoral degree allows for the best job opportunities, but the majority of opportunities will be available for part-time and non-tenured positions.
Another work option in this field is as an interpreter or translator, which requires the ability to convert words, concepts and ideas from one language to another. A translator works with written sources, primarily receiving and submitting work via computer using translation software. Whereas, an interpreter must be able to translate spoken words both simultaneously and consecutively, as well as focus on what's said. Both require the ability to understand the context, subject matter and cultural specifics involved.
The BLS states that roughly 26% of interpreters and translators are self-employed. Fluency in a minimum of two languages is required, and many jobs require at least a bachelor's degree, although some don't. Those with international experience or native speakers of two languages are in high demand. These professionals may work for the government, in private or public institutions, an airline or in the medical field. Although certification isn't required, many state and municipal courts offer some form of certification for judicial work through the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators. In addition, the International Association of Conference Interpreters offers certification for those jobs.
Approximately 50,000 interpreters and translators worked in 2008, with the estimated growth to be 22% from 2008-2018, per the BLS. The best job opportunities are predicted for those specializing in Portuguese, German, Italian, French and Spanish. In 2010, the average salary for interpreters and translators was $49,790, with those in consulting, telecommunications and the federal government making the most.
Learn More About Foreign Language and Literature
A strong background in foreign language and literature can open many doors within a wide variety of fields. Education-Portal.com can help you discover what path is best for you.
The required degree varies by career choice, and in some instances a degree in a foreign language may not even be necessary. The links below provide training information to assist you on a career.
- Education for Foreign Language Teachers
- Translation Degree Information
- Adult Education Courses in Foreign Languages
Knowledge of a foreign language grants access to many different career paths, but for those interested in education or translation services, career options will vary based on experience and education.
- Career Information for a Foreign Languages Degree
- Reasons to Study a Foreign Language
- French Teacher
- Certified Translator
Distance Learning Options
While there are several on-campus foreign language and literature program options, with the help of the Internet, you can find convenience in taking a distance learning program from home.
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