Students with interests and knowledge in multiple languages will find that there are various careers to look into. Language-based jobs usually require a certain level of mastery of the foreign language.
Being a Translator
Documents sometimes need to be translated. These can range from product usage directions to more specialized content such as translation of legal documents. Employers may prefer translators to have degrees, certification, or experience in order to attempt specialized content translations. No matter what, translators are expected to have excellent grasp of the target language’s written rules of grammar and punctuation.
Translators can join translation firms or be freelancers. Freelance translators should develop skills in networking, managing contacts and files, as well as building extensive portfolios showing the full depth of their capabilities.
Translators do not always have degrees in the target language, though having one can be useful. Translators mainly build credentials through portfolios. Students interested in this career may consider taking college classes to cover the grammar and technical knowledge of the target language.
Being an Interpreter
Similar to translators, interpreters work by converting one language to another. However, interpreters deal with spoken language. Additionally, interpreters are expected to have fluency in both the language being translated from and to. Interpreters are not required to have mastered grammar, though they are expected to be fully comprehensible. This does mean a serviceable level of grammar and understanding of language idioms and expressions.
Interpreters can work by relaying the interpretation during or after the person speaks. Interpreting while the original language is being spoken can be difficult and requires a high level of concentration. Interpretation while the speaker pauses is less stressful but requires the speaker to be able to remember everything that had been said.
As with translators, interpreters are often freelance workers. They need to network, manage contacts, and build a resume of previous clients. With permission, they can also ask if part of the interpretation can be recorded and used as a portfolio. However, most clients will want conversations to remain private. Another way to build an interpreter portfolio is to ask interpreter contacts or other well-spoken people to carry short conversations about specific topics you can translate on tape.
Interpreters also do not always have degrees in either language. College classes, which often deal more with written language than spoken language, can still be useful. Students wishing to become interpreters may want to research which colleges offer courses for both written and spoken competency.
Becoming a Language Teacher
Language teachers typically teach the foreign language to students who speak another language that the teacher also speaks. Many language teachers are found in schools and universities.
Being a language teacher requires having patience and handling many students at a time. Teachers need to be responsible. Experience can be built upon through volunteering and other language-related jobs.
Teachers need to first pursue a degree in the target language. They also will need to acquire certification in teaching, which can vary from state to state. Certain schools with hire teachers without teaching certification if they have enough translator/interpreter experience and if no other candidates can be found.
Becoming a Language Tutor
Language tutors teach the language to one or a small group of students. The students may or may not speak a common language. A language tutor needs to adjust lesson plans to convey information to students with whom they cannot communicate in a common language.
Language tutors can join tutoring companies or be self-employed. As with other freelance workers, they need to find clients and build a network. Since it is difficult to create a portfolio based on tutoring, language tutors often rely on word of mouth from positive client experiences.
Language tutors do not need degrees in the target language. Clients often want tutors that are native speakers in the language tutored. Depending on the needs of the students, tutoring can be for written fluency, spoken fluency, or a combination of both.
Becoming a Language Teacher in Another Country
Some schools hire teachers from other countries. Typically, they look for native speakers but will consider other candidates who have proven fluency. These language teachers need to have both written and spoken mastery in the language taught.
Language teachers in other countries may end up teaching students who speak languages they do not know. Such teachers need to find ways to communicate through images and very carefully chosen lesson plans to ensure understanding. They may be accompanied by another teacher that can speak the students’ language and has at least basic competency in the language taught.
Requirements for teaching in another country depend on the country. Having taken college grammar courses in the target language can help. Additionally, having taught or volunteered in education fields can show dedication to teaching.