6 Great Employment Opportunities for Those with Foreign Language Skills

6 Great Employment Opportunities for Those with Foreign Language Skills

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People learn a foreign language for several reasons. Some are driven by curiosity or affiliation for another culture. For others, the lure is being able to mention the foreign language as an additional skill on their resume. Whatever your motivation for learning a foreign dialect, if you enjoy studying it, then you could consider taking it on as a full-time or part-time career.


Today we live in a ‘global village’ characterised by increasing trade, as well as political and socio-economic exchanges across international borders. Economies of countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America are on the rise. China may surpass America as the world’s largest economy by 2030. Germany has emerged as among the more stable economies in Europe. Many Latin American and African countries are emerging as attractive business destinations for Indian businesses.

Driven by these global trends, the world is slowly moving away from being an English-dominated work culture. Apart from German, French and Spanish, Russian and Italian, there is also growing global demand for people who know Mandarin, Arabic, and Japanese.

If you aspire to work in the international offices of a global brand, then having a foreign language skill, besides necessary academic qualifications, offers you a significant advantage. A 2012 survey by The Economist covering 572 executives in Europe, Asia Pacific, North America, and Latin America, reported that 50% of the executives considered foreign language skill to be an important qualification while hiring.

Top sectors recruiting foreign language students

Clearly, there is a rising demand for foreign language skills. Mastering a foreign language could open the doors to the following sectors for you –

  • Indian Companies: With Indian companies expanding their presence to international shores, there is an increasing demand for Indians trained in foreign languages to help in establishing and managing the business abroad. Management trainees with foreign language skills are preferred for handling offshore projects (relevant especially in IT). Export-import houses, hotel and travel companies also require people with foreign language skills.
  • BPO’s: Indian BPO’s catering to international companies, recruit large number of foreign language students. For example, eServe, Xchanging, Enchanting India and Fidelity regularly recruit German language students from Max Mueller Bhavan.
  • Leading institutions: The World Bank, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and foreign embassies in India are among the established entities that recruit people trained in foreign languages.
  • Government – PMO, IRS, Defence Forces, All India Radio, and RAW are among the many government bodies requiring foreign language skills.
  • Language Translator/ Interpreter– Translation is perhaps the most obvious employment opportunity. The advantage is that you can work independently and from the comforts of your home, while raking in good money. Translators earn between 60 paise to Rs. 5 per word. Interpreters can charge as much as Rs. 25,000 per day.
  • Teaching institutions: Foreign language experts are in great demand in academia.  Jawahar Lal Nehru University is renowned for its foreign language graduate and undergraduate programmes. You could also teach at a growing number of private foreign language institutes. To qualify as a college teacher you must have an MPhil and PhD in your chosen foreign language.

If you wish to enrol for a short course or a degree programme in a foreign language, here is a list of the most popular foreign language institutions / universities in the country (in no particular order):

  • JNU, Delhi
  • University of Delhi
  • University of Calcutta
  • Goa university
  • Guru Nanak Dev University
  • University of Mumbai
  • Kurukshetra University
  • The Indo-Japan Welfare and Cultural Association
  • New Delhi YMCA
  • Bharatiya Vidaya Bhawan
  • Central Institute of English & Foreign Languages, Hyderabad

Lastly, to build a career as a foreign language expert, you must complement that knowledge with a deep understanding of the country’s culture, social norms, and its history. Watching movies, reading literature, having everyday conversations in your chosen foreign language, and travel to the country where the language is spoken, must form part of the learning experience.


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