8 career options for language studies graduates
Posted February 8, 2012, by Aziza Green
Foreign language skills have never been as valuable in the workforce as they are right now. Living in a global economy means that many Australian companies conduct business with foreign manufacturers, suppliers, buyers and consultants, international business transactions happen in minutes and people move quickly from one country to the next. As well as participating in international business dealings, Australia’s long history of immigration has created a vibrant multicultural society.
Speaking and writing in another language could be the advantage you need to break into a competitive international market. There are many organisations that value foreign language skills – multinational companies, not-for-profit and aid organisations, foreign affairs and government departments.
These days language courses are extremely accessible and come in many forms. You could choose to complete a university qualification such as a Bachelor of Languages or Bachelor of Languages and International Business for a thorough education.
Some of the industries where foreign language skills are most in demand include tourism, media, trade, international relations, technology and science. Having a second language is an excellent skill to add to your resume and is relevant to any profession, particularly if you have frequent dealings with overseas companies or if you would like to apply for positions overseas. Here are eight of the top career options where foreign language skills are most valued.
Large multinational companies have offices in various nations and can employ thousands of people around the world. Being proficient in a second language can be an advantage when dealing with people in overseas offices both internally and outside of the business. Your language skills, combined with your business and management skills, could see you relocate to one of the company’s other offices, giving you the opportunity to travel and advance your career at the same time.
The travel and tourism industry is both exciting and highly competitive. Opportunities in the travel and tourism sector are endless, from working for an airline to tour guide or travel and tourism marketer. Proficiency in another language may be your ticket to board this industry and will enable you to enjoy your own overseas travel in a whole new way.
Media – Print, TV and radio
Some of Australia’s community-focused media channels provide non-English language-based programs for the diverse communities living in Australia. This may include news programs, community programs, and music and cultural programs for TV, radio and print. Producers and writers proficient in the required language are needed to produce content for these programs, as well as translate foreign content into English. You could combine your journalism [/courses/communications/journalism/] or media studies [/courses/communications/] with a language program of study to increase your options in the media.
As an active participant in global affairs, the Australian government employs people in a variety of areas, including diplomacy, defence and trade policy development and implementation. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, stimulating career with lots of variety and the opportunity to work in different countries, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is a great place to start. You will need excellent communication skills and the ability to be flexible and adapt quickly to new circumstances. DFAT has around 83 posts in over 75 countries and territories around the world.
Other government organisations that may require foreign language skills and the ability to travel include: the Australian Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Australian Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). A foreign language or studies in international relations are a distinct advantage in this sector. Organisations such as these often run graduate recruitment and cadetship programs to recruit new graduates.
Australia’s proximity to Asian nations and our multicultural society necessitate that government departments cater to a variety of non-English speaking groups. Government organisations that deal directly with the public, such as Family & Community Services, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Department of Immigration and Citizenship are required to provide reading material in a variety of languages in order to make their information accessible to minority groups and to avoid disadvantaging these groups. Translation services may be provided by an external service or by a government-employed translator, depending on the department.
Translation services are required in a variety of contexts, from corporate meetings to translating books or advertisements. Your foreign language skills may be needed for websites, reports and documents, research, media, OH&S manuals, product packaging, written correspondence and more. The most common avenue to pursue translation work is to work as a freelancer or contractor represented by a company.
Not-for-profits and non-government organisations (NGOs)
Not-for-profit organisations are often charitable or community organisations that involve overseas operations where language skills may be relevant or needed to communicate with non-English speakers. There are also many community organisations within Australia that provide services for minority groups. For roles that interface directly with the community, such as caseworkers or aid workers, speaking a second language is a great resource. Interpreters are also required for community organisations where members of the community need help to access fundamental services, or where minority groups need to be given a voice.
If you’re passionate about education, why not use your foreign language skills to launch a rewarding career as a language teacher? You can use your skills in an informal setting such as private tuition for high school or university students; or, if you want to teach in a formal education setting, you will need to obtain a formal teaching qualification or language degree to qualify for employment.
Your new career awaits!
Studying a foreign language course can enhance your degree and diversify your career prospects. You will not only gain valuable language skills, but you will also develop a strong understanding of other cultures and be able to apply that understanding in both your personal and professional life, locally and overseas.
Browse our language courses for a program of study that suits you.