There are many different career options for a language learner. Certain jobs, such as translation and teaching, require foreign language proficiency and often an advanced degree, but the ability to speak another language can be a major advantage in a number of other fields as well. The information below is meant to help foreign language students learn more about their career options and find employment in their field.
- Undergraduate/Graduate Student Employment
- Translation and Interpretation
- Alternative Careers
- Resources and Networking
- Resume Building
Independent Translation Work
The links below are for those seeking part-time, independent translation work. These sites will match you directly with clients, without the need to spend time advertising.
- VerbalizeIt: Boulder-based freelance interpretation and translation
- babelverse: Freelance interpretation
- ProZ: Freelance translation
On Campus Employment
The following are employment opportunities with the University of Colorado. Those seeking experience while still in school are advised to consider part-time employment as a means of honing their foreign language skills.
- Student Employment: For undergraduates seeking employment either at CU or off-campus, narrow your search by looking in categories such as "Tutoring" and "Education"
- Student Employment at ALTEC
- Jobs at CU: For recent graduates, grad students, and seniors seeking employment at the University of Colorado after graduation. To narrow your search, use your target language (e.g. "Spanish") as a search keyword.
Local Employment Resources
- CU Career Services
- City of Denver Jobs
- Boulder County Jobs
- Jefferson County Jobs
Translation and Interpretation
Translation and Interpretation (T&I) are growing and exciting fields for those who are dedicated to the nuances of language. Translators and interpreters can work in-house for translation agencies, the government, non-profit organizations or larger international companies. Other translators and interpreters freelance from their home. Often a certification or an advanced degree is required for employment at a larger firm.
- Central Intelligence Agency: Language Positions
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: FBI Linguists
- The Department of State
- Federal Court Interpreters
- State Court Interpreters
- United Nations Translator: UN Translators translate documents from two or more languages into their main language. Sample pay levels can be viewed on the UN careers website.
- European Commission: Directorate-General for Translation
- World Bank
There are many jobs available in private organizations, however, these positions are often one-time occurrences. To find a job with a private company, one is advised to search by job-type. Some examples are linked below:
Localization is the process of translating and adapting a product to suit the language and cultural needs of another country or region. There is growing demand for these services from software and game developers, and while some companies do require in-house translators, they are rare. However, there are a number of translation companies which specialize in localization, and could be approached directly. (E.g. Straker Translations, which provides translation services for multiple corporations but hires their own translators since their customers do not need a full-time translator on staff.)
- University of Denver's Online Certification/Master's Degree in Translation Studies
- The Monterey Institute of International Studies
If you are interested in a career as a language teacher, the path that you will need take is determined by your audience of instruction. To teach K-12, you will need a teaching certification from the state in which you live. University teaching positions require a Master's degree to teach general language classes, while a Doctorate is required to teach advanced literature classes. There are alternate paths that can help you to determine if you are indeed interested in pursuing an advanced degree (e.g. teaching abroad or working with organizations such as Teach for America).
- Colorado Department of Education: The CDE has a wealth of information for those interested in teaching in the Colorado K-12 community.
- Modern Language Association: The MLA publishes a job list for higher education every fall.
- Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers Yahoo Group: Advertises language teaching positions available in K-12 education.
- Teach for America: Recruits college graduates to work to expand educational opportunity, starting by teaching for two years in a low-income community.
- List of Foreign Language Graduate Programs: An advanced degree in your target language is a requirement to teach at the university level (Some positions require only a Master's degree).
- Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certification:
- ESL Academy - CU Denver
- The English Language Center - University of Denver
- Teaching English as a Second Language Certification: Front Range Community College
- Colorado Proficiency Requirements for Teaching: Colorado and most of the nation require assesment of your language proficiency to gain licensure.
Fields and Organizations
- Operations & Information Management: Effective communicators, especially those who can approach international partners, are especially valuable. Visit the Leeds Career Connections page for more information about finding business internships and employment. (See also: Leeds Minor in Business below.)
- Marketing: Major advertising agencies like Alloy and Aegis are responsible for multiple subsidiary companies and offices worldwide. Knowledge of a foreign language and culture can be extremely useful.
- Broadcasting: International broadcasting organizations (e.g. Turner, News Corporation, Disney, etc...) are often in need of bilingual employees in both their domestic and international offices. Use your second language as a keyword when searching for open positions.
- Technology: All major technology companies share an interest in reaching the widest market possible. Multilingual employees are needed both business and customer-side. Some examples:
- Sports: Many international organizations need employees who are capable of speaking more than one language. Organizations like Sport Recruitment International exist to connect these individuals with employers.
- Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières: Doctors Without Borders recruits medical and non-medical aid workers to provide assistance in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.
- Engineers Without Borders USA: Supports community-driven development programs worldwide by collaborating with local partners to design and implement sustainable engineering projects.
- Peace Corps: The type of work a volunteer does is ultimately determined by the needs of a host country and the potential of a volunteer to contribute to those needs and to the Peace Corps' mission.
- United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the UN. It has a worldwide presence with 65 Field Offices and Institutes. Its headquarters are in Paris.
- Leeds Minor in Business at CU Boulder: The Leeds School of Business offers a minor in business to non-business students seeking to complement their studies by developing a practical understanding of the business world.
- Social Entrepreneurship at CU Boulder: SEEDS@CU (Social Entrepreneurship for Equitable Development and Sustainability) supports students and faculty members in research and special projects.
- Thunderbird MS in Global Management: Designed for recent liberal-arts undergraduates or early-career professionals interested in embarking on a future in global management; blends global business instruction with in-depth training in international relations, cross-cultural communications and foreign language.
Language-Specific Business Options
- Spanish for the Professions at CU Boulder: An interdisciplinary undergraduate degree for Spanish students at the University of Colorado which combines language studies with courses in international affairs and business.
- Most CU language departments offer business-centered courses on a semester-by-semester basis. (e.g. Business German)
- ATLAS MS in Information and Communication Technology for Development: The MS-ICTD degree prepares students for careers in the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to advance people and communities in developing nations and underserved or impoverished regions.
- The Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities Program: Combines classroom work, research and development, and real world, on-the-ground experience to train engineers to work in partnership with organizations in developing communities worldwide.
Resources and Networking
Foreign Language Organizations
Translation and Interpretation Organizations
- ATA: American Translators Association
- CTA: The Colorado Translators Association
- AIIC: International Association of Conference Interpreters
Foreign Language Education and Technology
- CALICO: The Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium
- IALLT: The International Association for Language Learning Technology
- EUROCALL: The European Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning
- SOCALLT: The South Central Association of Language Learning Technology
- Demystifying Career Paths after Graduate School: A Guide for Second Language Professionals in Higher Education by Ryuko Kubota and Yilin Sun
Popular Press Articles
- College grads with foreign language skills will have better job prospects Annalyn Kurtz, CNN Money
Although CVs are common in many parts of the world, in the United States resumes are by far the most common experience-presentation document. The following links are meant to help provide guidance for those looking to build or update their resume.
- Language Major Resume Workshop - Darcy Lear (Video)
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Resume-writing tutorials, workshops, and samples
- MIT Career Development Handbook: (PDF) Resume section begins on page 18.
- Tandem Resumes: Collection of resume tips
- Sample resume analysis: An annotated resume illustrating mistakes to avoid when writing your resume