Careers Involving Languages

The beginning of the Ben Stiller movie Zoolander starts with a very funny interview between the title character and a reporter. During the interview the reporter asks Zoolander how he got his start. He replies:

Zoolander – Well I guess it all started the first time I went through the second grade. I caught my reflection in a spoon while I was eating my cereal, and I remember thinking “Wow, you’re ridiculously good looking, maybe you could do that for a career.”
Reporter – Do what for a career?
Zoolander – Be professionally good looking.

Have you ever asked yourself if you could study or speak languages for a career? If you are reading my blog then I am guessing that you have or that you already did to one extent or another. Did you or are you having difficulty figuring out the answer? The odds are good that you did or are. Part of this is due to the fact that you’ve asked yourself a question that leaves so much open. Over the past five years I have asked myself that question and made many observations of those who work with languages in one way or another. Some are successful and happy with their careers while others feel disappointed and sad.

Over the next few weeks – or months – I would like to share my perspective with those who are wondering if a language oriented career is for them and if so, which one? This will be done from a very American point of view but I still think that those of you from other countries will get plenty of food for thought. From where I am sitting, careers that involve language can be split up into two broad categories which can then be broken down into several subcategories.

The first category includes the traditional language careers: translating/interpreting, teaching/academia, and government. The second category consists of the hybrid language careers which can be broken down into business and tech. Hopefully I will start with these posts in the next few days. I hope you enjoy them.