When it comes to hiring new staff, 41% of businesses have gone on record as saying they particularly value candidates who have language skills. Employers are likely to value bilingual candidates for their strong communication skills, improved cognitive abilities and capacity for multitasking. Learning another language takes time and can be difficult, so having that skill under your belt shows potential employers that you are dedicated and committed to the task at hand.
If you have a modern languages degree, you may already have an advantage over many of your competitors, since 62% of Brits only speak English. So, whether you speak French, German or Spanish, here are some lucrative career paths you could take with your language skills.
Interpreting involves translating oral communication from one language to another, and requires excellent knowledge and understanding of both the speaker’s native tongue and the targeted language. Interpreters are necessary to many different sectors, from travel and entertainment to healthcare, helping them all to communicate with non-English speakers in real-time.
As linguistics agency Global Voices notes, companies take great care when hiring an interpreter, as they “will essentially be speaking for your business, and potentially creating trading relationships with other companies.” Employers also value candidates with a history of working in one particular sector, as the ability to demonstrate specialised industry knowledge allows bilingual candidates to make the most of both their linguistic skills and their work experience.
Communication is everything when it comes to international business ventures, which is why translation is so critical to the success of many global industries. As with interpretation, fluency in two or more languages is crucial, as is specialist topic knowledge in a variety of subjects, which can boost your chances of securing multiple projects and gaining more income. Cultural awareness is also essential for helping you work with people all over the world, and getting past any barriers while translating.
For example, with more businesses than ever expanding into the global marketplace, website translation is of particular importance to companies who want to appeal to international audiences and create trusting relationships without a language barrier. When a website is accurately translated and localised, all potential foreign-language speaking customers will be more able to engage in business and communication.
Your degree could be useful to sectors like retail and hospitality, which require less specialist knowledge than more technical industries. Other exciting roles can be found in the film industry, where international studios require subtitles to be added to their movies, particularly in the wake of Parasite becoming the first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Its success is largely owed to translator Darcy Paquet whose English subtitles enabled foreign audiences to get the best understanding of not just the film’s dialogue, but its overall themes. According to culture critic Kim Heon-sik, translation is a “complicated job that requires both professional insights in film-making and linguistic proficiency”. As such, anyone with a modern language degree and a passion for cinema could find film translation an avenue worth exploring.
A report by the Higher Education Policy Institute revealed that only 32% of young people in the UK can read or write in another language, compared to 79% in France and 90% in Germany. Although the Government wants more children to study foreign languages at GCSE level, language learning is at its lowest rate since the turn of the millennium. To combat this, funding has been provided to create new language hubs for students and mentoring projects to encourage interest in the subjects.
There is high demand for teachers in Britain and over 40% more language trainees are required in 2020. However, strong language skills mean that a career in teaching isn’t limited to working in the UK. Many British teachers leave the country every year to work in schools abroad, due to the drawbacks of the British education system, such as unpaid overtime and the widespread feeling of being overworked. Although many of them go to teach English abroad, there are a few modern language teachers making the leap too, seeking a lower level of classroom observation and higher wages.