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Where Can I Work Using My Language Skills?

You May Not Have To Leave Home To Use Your Spanish


Question: I am a Web designer but I found out that I enjoy more studying and practicing other languages than working as a designer. I want to learn a few more languages. Anyhow, I would like to ask you if you know what kind of jobs I could do with languages? What schools can I go to? I'm already trilingual (French, English and Spanish). I hope that you can help me!

Answer: You obviously have a knack for languages, and there are plenty of opportunities for those who are proficient in using them. But I'm going to pass the buck a bit and refer you to a languages employment guide put together by Laura Lawless, About's French Language Guide. She has looked at dozens of career possibilities that are available to those with foreign-language skills.

My understanding is that one of the better-paying jobs (when the work is available and depending on the jurisdiction) for those with especially strong language skills is as courtroom translator. I remember watching one in action when I served on a jury, and I was impressed with how well she was able to quickly pick up on the nuances of both languages. But attaining the level of fluency required, as well as the knowledge of everything from technical legal terminology to international slang, is difficult for almost all but those who grew up bilingual.

But even for those whose language skills don't reach that level, knowing a foreign language, especially Spanish for those who live in the United States, can be an asset in a variety a variety of occupations. When I was a journalist, I found my skills useful a number of times in talking to people I otherwise would have had difficulty reaching, and where I work now as an editor I'm often called upon to answer questions about Spanish.

Although I live in the United States not close to Mexico, tens of thousands of people in my county are ethnically Hispanic, and many speak Spanish, so I have known people from numerous occupations — from lawyers to store clerks — who find themselves using Spanish on the job. I even know a doctor who lived in Brazil a couple years and has found his knowledge of Portuguese useful in learning Spanish enough to help Spanish-speaking patients.

So I wouldn't be surprised if there would be opportunities to use your Spanish and French skills as a Web designer. Internet use is fairly high in Argentina, for example, and growing throughout the Spanish-speaking world and among Spanish speakers in the United States. Certainly your design as well as language skills could be used.

As for schools, I'd recommend you look for an academically rigorous immersion program. Where you should go specifically depends on your personality, resources and interests.

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