It’s pretty cool to be a polyglot. There are lots of unexpected benefits to knowing multiple languages. In daily life, this skill might pop up at a moment’s notice: someone asks you for directions, or you order in a restaurant, or you meet someone at a party.
But can being multilingual actually become part of your mission in life? Or do you keep other languages on reserve, simply to use for life’s little conveniences? Some jobs are geared toward multilingual people. In those fields, knowing another language makes you a more competitive candidate. Here are some possible career tracks where speaking another language can be your greatest asset.
1. Sales Representative
Why sales? Because sales is about connecting with people. Because sales is about finding points of commonality, and using them to build a bridge to potential customers. Because sales is about earning trust and getting your point across. When you double the number of languages you know, you double the amount of potential customers you can reach. Making the sale is a numbers game, and you’re increasing the odds when you speak two or more languages.
Well, duh. Being a translator is a great career for a polyglot. But did you know that this career path is seeing more traction as businesses expand globally at faster rates? Translators aren’t just reserved for the United Nations anymore. You’ll find them in hospitals, court houses, manufacturing facilities, board rooms, and civil service offices. As a translator, your life’s work becomes communicating on behalf of others, which can make a profound difference in peoples’ lives.
3. Registered Nurse
If you’re inclined to become a nurse, you’re already inclined to help people. At the most vulnerable moments of their lives, people look to the nurses and hospital staff in the room for answers and comfort. As a bilingual RN, you may find yourself addressing worried family members in their native tongue, or explaining a health condition in a way that makes more sense in another language than it does in English. Nurses are always in demand in healthcare facilities around the world. But if you’re a bilingual nurse, some families may remember you forever as the person who offered hope and information at a difficult time.
4. Hospitality Staff
If you love the idea of travel, tourism, and foreign shores, working on staff in a hotel might be the perfect place for your bilingual self to shine. Whether you’re a desk clerk or a hotel manager, odds are high that you’ll meet people from all corners of the world on a daily basis. If you can converse with foreign visitors in their native language, you’ll provide service that’s above and beyond their expectations. You could also influence someone’s vacation or business travel for the better, helping them avoid costly mistakes or tourist traps.
5. Teacher / Educator
Even if you’re not teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), being bilingual will serve you in an education career. In many communities across the US, significant numbers of children come from primarily Spanish-speaking households. Many teaching jobs prefer educators with Spanish-speaking skills. Having the ability to converse in another language can make parent-teacher conferences and education planning a lot smoother.
6. Journalist / Reporter
Investigative journalists working on the issues of our day will find that being bilingual can make or break a story. From interviews to research to understanding the nuances of foreign policy and culture, the more languages you can speak, the better. Whether you’re interviewing sources at the border of the US, or flying to the Middle East to understand how America’s foreign policy is impacting the world – you’re on the go, and speaking other languages can remove roadblocks in the way of your reporting.
7. Manufacturing / Supply Chain Management
These days, the global supply chain is long, and it likely has touchpoints in several different countries. It’s rare that the entire product life-cycle takes place within one country. To communicate with foreign suppliers, to negotiate with trading partners, to understand cargo and shipping procedures, and to follow regulatory guidelines – being multilingual is an asset that may impact your entire business.
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