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. There is a rising demand for those who speak a second language in several career fields and there are many job openings. Select a link below to learn more:
- The most common jobs our graduates get are jobs in education, sales, media, business operations, health care, entrepreneurship, social services, information technology, law, and finance, according to LinkedIn. Many of our students choose to double major.
- 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).
- Foreign language degrees have the highest average starting salary of liberal arts degrees and have a higher mid-career salary than many other degrees. See the salaries of some of our recent graduates.
- 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.
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 US, China, Japan, Germany, and France. We have many students who are majoring in marketing, international business, accounting, finance, or other business fields that choose one of our language degrees. 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 than business majors on the entrance exam for MBA programs (GMAT). We offer upper division courses in Business French, Business Spanish, and Business German. To view current business job openings that require a foreign language, click here.
Your foreign language 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 need to obtain a teaching certificate with the College of Education. The State of Oklahoma requires that you take the OSAT for your language. Some states require you to take the ACTFL OPI and score at least advanced-low. Our majors often choose to double major in a foreign language and in education. See current high school teacher salaries, average starting teacher salaries by state, and teacher salaries in Oklahoma. Teaching at the university level will involve applying for a MA/PhD program and taking the GRE. The MA takes about two years and then the PhD is usually another four, but the school normally pays for your tuition. In a graduate program, students typically choose to specialize in linguistics (syntax, phonetics, or language teaching) or literature (for a certain time period and location). University positions include those that only require you to teach (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 best are in universities classified as high research universities and are typically schools in Power 5 conferences. To view current job openings in education, click here.
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 have many mechanical, chemical, electrical, and other engineers and architecture majors who choose to 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 search for “That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket” in Forbes. Knowing a foreign language will help your engineering career in many ways. To view current engineering positions where speaking a foreign language is desired, click here.
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 scale). To achive this level of proficiency, you will typically need to study abroad for more than one semester. The Boren scholarship can help you to study abroad and then work for one of the many branches of the federal government. Some U.S. government agencies also require you to do an internship with them during the summers in your first couple of years at OSU, 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. Knowing a foreign language will help your career in law enforcement. To view current U.S. government job openings that require a foreign language, click here.
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 many students majoring in human development and family science, nutritional sciences, hotel/restaurant administration, or are from other human science majors 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 US and abroad. Learning a foreign language will help your career in health care in many ways. For information about the Pre-Med program at OSU click here.
Attorneys know that they will have more clientele if they speak the languages of the people who live in their area. We offer majors with pre-law options in French, German, and Spanish. For OSU's 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 openings for attorneys, click here and search for a language.
Many media outlets are looking to hire people who can communicate in a second language. Many media and strategic communications majors at OSU choose to complete a degree in a foreign language. Speaking another language will open up job more opportunities for you at home and abroad. To view current jobs openings in media that require a foreign language, click here.
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 translators and interpreters often need no formal education or certification, they are paid more with a bachelors or master’s degree and with certifications, such as the ATA Certification. Each state has its own requirements for court interpreters (see requirements for Oklahoma and 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 openings in translation and interpretation, click here.
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.