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Career Paths with a Foreign Language

A degree in a foreign language will help you to develop (1) speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills in the target language; (2) knowledge of other cultures; and (3) critical thinking skills. These skills are in demand in almost any career fields, and there are many job opportunities. Select a link below to learn more:

MSU Graduate Student

Our Graduates

  1. The most common jobs our graduates get are jobs in health care, education, sales, and operations, according to LinkedIn. Many of our students choose to double major and many others choose to minor in a language.   
  2. Our degrees will prepare you for graduate school. Foreign language majors score better than pre-law majors for the entrance exam to law school (LSAT), better than business majors on the entrance exam for MBA programs (GMAT), and as well as or better than many other majors for entrance into other Masters/PhD programs (GRE). Humanities majors as a whole score better than biology majors and specialized health science majors for entrance to medical school (MCAT).
  3. Foreign language degrees have the highest average starting salary of liberal arts degrees and have a higher mid-career salary than many other degrees. Many jobs requiring knowledge of a foreign language currently pay average salaries of $48,000-$55,000.
  4. In addition, speaking another language helps you to have better academic achievement and provides numerous cognitive benefits. It will make you smarter and helps you to delay onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s in old age.  

Business

Paired with a business degree, a foreign language degree will help open business opportunities for you with people from the world’s largest economies, including the U.S., France, Germany, Spain and Latin America. We have students who are majoring in marketing, economics, accounting, finance, management or other business fields that choose one of our language programs. Our degrees provide you with communication skills in the target language, cultural awareness, and critical thinking skills that will be an asset to your employer. Top business leaders speak multiple languages. It is best to achieve advanced proficiency in the target language through majoring and studying abroad. Foreign Language majors score higher than business majors on the entrance exam for MBA programs (GMAT). To view current business job opportunities that require a foreign language, click here.  

Education

Your foreign language undergraduate degree can prepare you to teach grades K-12 or can prepare you to earn a graduate degree to teach at the university level. To teach K-12, you will also need to obtain a teaching certificate by successfully undertaking proper classwork, experiences, and testing through the West College of Education; the State of Texas requires that you take the LOTE (Languages Other Than English) exam in the foreign language. If you are thinking about certification to teach in another state, be sure to check that state’s requirements since some states require you to take other tests, such as the ACTFL OPI and score at least “advanced-low.” See current high school teacher salariesaverage starting teacher salaries by state, and teacher salaries in your area. Teaching at the university level will involve applying for, and completing, a MA/PhD program and, generally, taking the GRE. The MA takes about two years and then the PhD is usually another four, but the school normally pays a portion of your tuition if you are a teaching or research assistant. In a graduate program, students typically choose to specialize in linguistics (syntax, phonetics, or language teaching) or literature (of a certain time period and/or geographical area). University positions include those that only require you to teach (generally part-time positions such as TAs, instructors, lecturers) and those that require both research and teaching (assistant professor, associate professor, full professor). See average professor salaries for foreign language positions. There are many graduate schools, but the most prestigious are in universities classified as high research universities and are typically schools in Power 5 conferences. To view current job opportunities in education, click here.

Engineering

Many employers prefer engineers who can speak a second language. Employers are also looking for STEM graduates who also have the critical thinking and communication skills from the liberal arts training that we offer. We frequently have STEM majors who choose to double major or minor in one of our languages. Read about the demand for engineers with liberal arts skills in “We don’t need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training” in the Washington Post or the article “That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket” in Forbes. To view current engineering positions where speaking a foreign language is desired, click here.  

U.S. Government Jobs

Many federal agencies seek applicants with proficiency in a foreign language. These positions usually require taking a language proficiency exam and scoring a 2 or 3 on the ILR scale (the equivalents of “advanced” and “superior” on the ACTFL OPI scale). To achieve this level of proficiency, a non-native speaker of the language would typically need to study abroad for at least one semester. The Boren scholarship or Rotary scholarship can help you to study abroad and offer great experience for working for one of the many branches of the federal government. For more information about study abroad opportunities at MSU, click here. Some U.S. government agencies also require you to do an internship with them during the summers while you are studying at MSU, so plan to contact them early. Careers with the federal government usually pay well, have opportunities for advancement, and have great benefits. It is also relatively easy to move between agencies once hired. To view current U.S. government job openings that require a foreign language, click here.   

Human Sciences

Some of our students choose to get a degree in a foreign language to be able to help others as a medical doctor or social worker. We have students majoring in dental hygiene, nursing, and radiologic science that choose to double major or minor in a foreign language. Learning a second language will allow you to more effectively help people from other cultures in the U.S. and abroad. For information about the Pre-Med program at MSU click here.  

Law

Attorneys and others involved in the criminal justice profession know that they will have more clientele if they speak the languages of the people who live in their area. For our Pre-Law track, click here. Foreign language majors score better than pre-law majors on the LSAT for entrance to law school. There are more jobs available to attorneys who speak a second language. To view current job opportunities for attorneys, click here and search for a language.  

Media & Communication

Many media outlets are looking to hire people who can communicate in a second language. Mass communications majors at MSU can choose to complete a double major or minor in a foreign language. Speaking another language will open up more job opportunities for you at home and abroad. To view current jobs opportunities in media that require a foreign language, click here.

Translation/Interpretation

Translating and interpreting jobs are the 5th fastest growing jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Translation (which is written) and interpretation (which is spoken) require a very high level of proficiency in the languages used. Translators and interpreters usually translate from their second language into their first language and work with native speakers when translating into their second language. Although translator and interpreter positions often require no formal education or certification, these professionals are paid more with a bachelor’s or master’s degree and/or with certifications, such as the ATA CertificationEach state has its own requirements for court interpreters (see requirements for Texas). Federal court interpreters often are certified by taking the FCICE. For more information about court interpreting, click here. When looking for a job, it is best to look for a company that will hire you with a salary and full health and retirement benefits, rather than just work short-term or freelance. There are many temporary freelance translation opportunities that usually pay about $0.11/word (depending on the language). To view current job opportunities in translation and interpretation, click here

Other Careers

Whatever your career field may be, if you study a foreign language you will be more marketable when it comes time to look for a job because you will be able to communicate in the second language, you will have a knowledge of the cultures of people that you work with, and you will have developed critical thinking skills. To see jobs in your field that require proficiency in a second language, click here.  

 

Special thanks to the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Oklahoma State University for permission to use their site as a template for this page.