World Languages and Cultures

Career Opportunities

Business, Industry, and Commerce

The types of companies needing management and sales personnel with foreign language skills cover the whole spectrum of the business world. In their operations, they find that foreign language proficiency is an enormous advantage, both in the United States and in their overseas offices, and lack of it a real handicap. International advertising is a highly specialized activity. Its prime purpose, of course, is to promote the sale of American products overseas. Since the latter are sold throughout the world, all of the major and some of the lesser languages are of importance. Positions for which companies find foreign language ability necessary or desirable include: Import-Export Agent, Marketing Coordinator, Overseas Personnel Manager, Copywriter, Purchasing Agent, Executive Assistant, Trade Analyst, Air Traffic Assistant, Buyer, Interpreter/Translator

Banking & Financial Positions

As international business and industry expand, international banking and financial activity naturally follows. Today one fourth of all new direct investment goes abroad. This increased emphasis on the international financial market is accompanied by a growing need for foreign language skills. The variety of positions involved in this area include:

  • Controller
  • Clerks & Tellers
  • Finance Director
  • Bilingual Officers
  • Senior Credit Analyst
  • Commercial Loan Officer
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Banking Correspondents
  • Accountants/Auditors/Bookkeepers

Technical & Engineering Positions

Companies with overseas plants, those that manufacture machinery and equipment used abroad, American subsidiaries of foreign-based companies, manufacturers using foreign-made components in their U.S. operations - all are likely to need technical and engineering personnel with language proficiency. Job titles include:

  • Engineer
  • Technical Writer
  • Research Worker
  • Production Engineer
  • Production Supervisor
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Overseas Plant Manager
  • Quality Control Supervisor
  • Computer Systems Designer
  • Transport Equipment Specialist

Secretarial & Clerical Positions

In the business world, the range of languages and fields is so vast that some employment agencies maintain permanent advertisements for bilingual secretaries and typists. The bilingual secretary has been described as a "stenographer, translator, and correspondent", which seems to broaden the range of duties considerably beyond that of a person without language ability, and this surely explains the salary premium enjoyed by bilingual personnel. In addition to typist, stenographer, receptionist, and administrative secretary, the clerical fields open to bilingual personnel include some that might not be as readily apparent. For instance, a Washington, D.C. company sought a person fluent in Spanish and English to conduct telephone interviews. Switchboard operators, collection workers, and bookkeepers with language ability are also needed.

International / United Nations

The UN is the largest employer of language specialists - translators, editors, interpreters - in this country. Its purpose is to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations, and to achieve international cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems. It also employs professional economists, education specialists, financial analysts, public information officers, librarians, technical specialists in industry and agriculture, engineers and statisticians, and has a continuing need for clerical and secretarial staff, preferably bilingual.

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