6 Professions for the Avid Language Learner

By OptiLingo

One of the most popular reasons people cite for learning a language is career advancement. While this could be called admirable, it isn’t exactly a motivator because it is something that is nice to have, but not essential. You are also more likely to be resentful about having to learn the language, instead of enthusiastic about it.

One thing you need to remember about learning a language for a career is that you not only need to be fluent in the language, you have to acquire the vocabulary and tone for the professional world. This can be incredibly difficult because it is an entirely different level of pressure.

However, if you get a job speaking in a language you love, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences.

If you are interested in doing more with your language than simply enjoying it in your free time or waiting to have a use for it at work, here are six professions where you can use it all of the time.


This is probably the most obvious profession, and potentially the most difficult career. It is also something you can do in your spare time to decide if it is the kind of job you want to do. Becoming a freelancing translator is much easier today with the wealth of technology.

To be a successful translator, you need to have three particular skills:

  1. An aptitude or high language ability
  2. Either an academic background or relevant experience in the field where you will translate
  3. The ability to translate into your own language (which means you need to be very adept at writing in English, so if you don’t like to write, this probably is not the job for you)

Consider how fluent you are in English, but if you have an aversion to writing because you don’t do it well, becoming a translator is a bad idea because it is all writing. Fluency in a language does not equate to being a good translator. You also need to be an expert (or at least very knowledgeable) in the field where you plan to offer your services.


If you are fluent in a language and can easily interpret what someone says for someone else, this could be your ideal career. You aren’t hampered by having to select the right words for a paper or document, you just need to interpret what someone is saying into another language.

Unlike translating, this career tends to be far more stressful. When you translate, you can move at your own pace. When you interpret, you have to not only have to convert the language in your head, you have to keep up with the person. There is no time to sit and ponder the right way to say something because it is all in real time. When you are dealing with professional and political situations, you have the added pressure of avoiding disastrous consequences caused by misinterpreting what is being said.

Being an interpreter is not for the faint of heart or people who don’t deal with stress well. It is for people who love a challenge and want to help others.

Intelligence Agent

This field is probably the most difficult career to achieve on this list because it is not up to you whether you reach your goal. It’s up to the agency you apply for and how well you perform on tests.

Intelligence roles are quite different to the way they are portrayed in movies. They are mostly about being a very personable person. You have to not only like people, but be able to deal with them all of the time. It also tends to be a combination of translator and interpreter, making it a real challenge to achieve this particular goal.


There are many countries that pay native English speakers to teach students English. As one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world with numerous industries relying on it, this is probably the easiest career on this list to achieve. Often you are paired with a teacher who is a native speaker of the language, so you won’t be alone while you teach.

This provides the best environment for those learning your native tongue. They have someone who knows the mechanics and someone who knows how the language is actually used. This does take some of the pressure off of you as it can be incredibly difficult to explain English mechanics to non-speakers. English is nothing if not nuanced and contradictory.

Customer Service Representative

This job allows you to stay in your home country and work with people from all over the globe, but it can also be emotionally draining. To be fair, there are good odds that you will spend at least as much time speaking English as another language, so it won’t be as difficult as the other professions in terms of stress to use your second language all day long.

Depending on what language you know, you may find that you hardly ever have a chance to use the language. Or you may find that you pretty much spend all day getting closer to fluency and sounding like a native speaker.

If you speak a second language and don’t want to leave home, this is probably your best option.

Military Linguist

You can learn another language on the government’s dime if you are in the military. The courses are very intense, and if you have any aptitude or interest in the language you are learning, you are going to learn it considerably faster than most people.

However, it does come with a few caveats, such as you are only learning what the military wants you to know to get the job done. You probably won’t even get to choose the language you learn, which could really hamper your ability to learn.

If you aren’t picky about your next language, this could be the best way to get started and be adept at another language relatively quickly. It does require you to be in the military though, so you need to think it through first.