Bilingual and multilingual people are fortunate to have a natural skill that sets them apart in the workforce. Whether for translating purposes, or reaching markets that span multiple languages, the ability to speak more than one language fluently opens the door to a list of in-demand careers.
If you are bilingual but don’t have a certain career path in mind, consider what type of worker you are.
- Do you prefer working with large groups of people, limited numbers of people or alone?
- Do you need a rigid schedule or can you work your own hours?
- Do you thrive in a business setting?
- Do you work better in the same office or classroom every day, or can you perform equally well in a changing setting?
- Are you a good writer in your native language?
- Can you travel?
- What jobs have you held in the past?
Once you answer questions like these (this is a very basic list), you’ll start to determine the skills that can point you toward the right type of bilingual job, besides fluency in multiple languages.
Language school teachers often enjoy interacting in groups, and can maintain a semi-routine schedule. Bilingual people with strong writing skills and high levels of concentration and organization, who can work on their own, can thrive in the written translation setting. Fluent speakers who don’t mind a varied work setting, and enjoy small groups of people, might make a good interpreter.
The worst thing you can do is pursue a bilingual career just because you speak the requisite languages, when your skills and personality would normally send you in a different direction. Be realistic about the day-to-day job expectations.
Certainly, teaching, translating and interpreting are some of the most well-known bilingual careers. But multilingual skills can be an asset to any career, particularly in business. According to The Bilingual Job Fair, a web resource that connects bilingual people with jobs and businesses, the fastest growing bilingual careers are:
- 1) Bilingual Interpreters & Translators
- 2) Bilingual Nurses and Bilingual Medical staff
- 3) Bilingual Marketing Director
- 4) Bilingual Teachers
- 5) Bilingual Human Resources staff
Almost any career favors bilingualism these days – from web design to management, government, manufacturing, hospitality, non-profit, administration, child care and beyond – since many businesses operate across multiple countries, or their target market spans multiple cultures and languages.
The best advice we can give is to specialize in industries with which you connect. Interested in law and justice, but didn’t go to law school? A career in legal translation could be a good fit (just remember, being bilingual isn’t enough to become a translator; proper training is required!). Have a background in non-profit or community building? Bilingual social workers are in huge demand.
For instance, at Multilingual Connections, we only work with translators that specialize in the particular industry for which they are translating. We wouldn’t assign a translator who specializes in medical translation to work on translations for a mass retailer. That consideration is how a translation agency can be the best possible resource to its clients. Besides, when you are connected to your industry, you might find you enjoy the work more.
Finally, if you’re looking for employment as a translator, contact us! Or, take the very first steps on your bilingual career path by taking language classes at our language school Multilingual Chicago.