America is #5 for the most languages spoken, with more than 300 distinct languages regularly used by residents and citizens. Yet Americans are far less likely than people almost any other developed country to speak a second language, for a lot of reasons – the main one being, most Americans don’t see a good reason to speak another language when people all over the world speak English.
But speaking another language is cool. It allows one to communicate with people from other cultures and travel without an interpreter. Students who choose foreign language as a career can also turn their skills into cash. Foreign language careers in high demand include teachers, tutors and interpreters. Furthermore, in the era of global business, speaking a second language (especially one important to business, like Japanese or Chinese) can make a big impact on your career. Finally, in a diverse America, second-language speakers are highly sought in the healthcare industry – especially now that 1 in 5 Americans speak a language other than English at home. An online foreign language degree is a convenient way to add a valuable skill to your career. Online degree programs offer flexibility and affordability for busy working adults and nontraditional students.
Most Popular Schools with Online Foreign Languages Degree Programs
|Quick Facts: Interpreters and Translators|
|2019 Median Pay||$51,830 per year|
$24.92 per hour
|Typical Entry-Level Education||Bachelor’s degree|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|Number of Jobs, 2019||77,400|
|Job Outlook, 2019-29||20% (Much faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2019-29||15,500|
Most Affordable Online Foreign Languages Degree Programs
Here is a list of careers for foreign language majors with an online education:
- Classroom teacher: Careers in a foreign language often include teaching. To teach a foreign language, students need a degree in the language plus teaching certifications. For those who love interacting with children and adult students, the stability of teaching might make this the right move.
- Private tutor: Working as a private tutor may involve group or individual sessions. These sessions often take place on evenings and weekends when students are available. The upside of this job is that it does not typically require teaching credentials. However, unless you are finding your own students, many firms that recruit for tutors do require that you take a test to validate your skills. There are many online job boards such as Wyzant.
- Online tutor: Online tutoring brings a lot of flexibility. You can work whatever hours you are free and it’s all done online. Verbling is a great place to start for online tutoring jobs.
- Interpreter: This is one of the oldest, most established careers in a foreign language. Companies, governments and organizations need interpreters for their foreign business branches. Interpreters bridge the gap between parties that don’t speak each other’s languages. From American Sign Language to Spanish to Mandarin, foreign Language skills are much in demand in this field.
- Translator: This job is similar to an interpreter. However, as an interpreter, graduates typically translate two languages at the same time. They speak for one person such as translators at the Miss Universe pageant, who interpret each contestant’s answers in English. Translators also work behind the scenes translating books, medical and legal information for publishers and employers.
- Children’s Book Writer: Many people who speak foreign languages translate or write children’s books.
- Blogger: Irishman Benny Lewis speaks many languages and founded the site Fluent in 3 Months. He writes books, speaks and blogs about his experiences and helps others learn languages organically. Those who speak a foreign language can write blogs for others who are learning languages for the first time. For those who build a following for their blogs, there are often opportunities to monetize their site through advertising, teaching and other endeavors.
- Tour Guide: Careers for foreign language majors include this fun job. Tour guides can work in foreign countries interpreting for their countryman, or they can work at home as guides to foreign visitors.
- Liaison Officer: This job involves coordinating activities for parties who speak different languages. Liaison officers explain schedules and manage expectations to keep all parties on the same page.
(Field) Researchers and Product Localization Managers also hold foreign language careers in high demand sectors. These are just some examples of how polyglot students can use a foreign language as a career starter.
What Can You Do with a Foreign Language Degree?
What jobs can you get with a foreign language degree? You can work in a law firm, medical office or business translating for clients and patients. Many interpreters and translators work for governments, courts and private agencies.
What jobs can I get with a foreign language degree? Depending on the level of education you receive in a foreign language, you could become a language instructor or teacher at the college level. If you want to work abroad, there are many positions open for liaisons and guides floor foreign visitors. Those who speak the language well enough, of course, can get any job they qualify for.
Media outlets hire students with online foreign language degrees to fill foreign correspondent positions. Graduates must be fluent enough to interview others in another language. Bilingual reporters are sought-after assets for global news industries.
These are just some of many examples. However, for bilingual or multilingual graduates, virtually any job is fair game, provided they have the other credentials required.
Degree Types: Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral
Accredited Online Associates
Many community colleges offer an associates degree in foreign language online. For example, the Community College of Aurora offers a Spanish AA. Since it takes time to develop written and oral mastery of another language, a foreign language associate degree online is a great way to learn the basics of a language to determine if you would like to make a career out of it.
However, an online associates degree in foreign language is not as valuable as a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Therefore, the jobs and pay range for associates degree in foreign language online graduates is somewhat lower. Many of your online courses will transfer to an online bachelor program, though.
If you are a bilingual speaker, a foreign language associate degree online can help you master the written skills of your second language. An online associates degree in foreign language is also great preparation for a four-year degree in a foreign language.
Accredited Online Bachelors
An online bachelors degree in foreign language degree prepares students for advanced education at the doctorate level or for entry level jobs that focus on literary appreciation, linguistics skills and understanding foreign cultures.
Students can get a high-quality education with an online degree if they choose wisely. There are many so-called colleges online that will be happy to take your money without providing adequate instruction.
Here’s a checklist for students reviewing online options for language degrees:
- Does the school have regional accreditation?
- Does the school offer internships or overseas learning opportunities?
- Will you get to speak with native speakers of the language?
- Does the college or university have a brick and mortar presence?
- Does the school rank well among other colleges and universities of the same size?
- Do the same faculty members teach online and on-campus courses?
- Does the online program have interactive technology such as videos and exercises to help you master the language?
- Will the school help you find a job after graduating?
Accredited Online Masters
A masters in foreign language education online comes in handy whether you speak Spanish, Chinese, Russian or Arabic. With a master’s degree, you deepen your understanding of the mechanics of the language as well as how to teach it. A master’s degree can also position you well for higher education, department leadership and other opportunities.
This degree also benefits professionals who work in international settings and those who coordinate foreign language programs.
In general, a masters in teaching foreign language online includes topics in how to learn foreign languages as well as the latest research on how to effectively teach them. Classes include a cultural and practical element.
Here are some common courses taken in foreign language programs:
- Linguistic Analysis
- Applied Linguistics
- Advanced Linguistics
- Second Language Acquisition
- Language Assessment
Choose a masters in teaching foreign language online that has a rigorous program in your second language.
PhD in teaching foreign languages online is the terminal degree in this field. Although programs at this level are fewer than bachelors of Masters degrees, students can still find many options online. As with a master’s degree, it’s important to find a program that has a firm background in the language students wish to teach.
The University of Arizona has a foreign language education PhD online program that allows students to achieve a Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (PHD). The Program prepares teachers, curriculum specialists, researchers and administrators for deeper understanding of learning, language acquisition and teaching foreign languages.
University of Minnesota has a PhD in teaching foreign languages online that teaches students skills needed to effectively teach, learn and create policies for minority languages.
Ideal candidates for foreign language education PhD online programs already have a deep understanding of a second language. Most programs require a master’s degree in the language being pursued or a related field.
Doctoral teaching programs often require at least three years of teaching experience as well as a diverse background. Most people who pursue a PhD plan to teach. Look for programs that are well respected and that use the same faculty as in-person classes for their online offerings. Many of the same criteria for master’s degrees also apply to schools that offer online foreign language doctorates.
Choosing a school with the proper accreditation can make the difference between landing a job teaching at a college or university and ending up with an obscure degree that does not further your career. You should also look for universities that have internship and job placement departments that can help you find employment after you graduate.
Some schools have strong affiliations with government agencies or other organizations that give their graduates preferential treatment during the hiring process.
Accreditation for Foreign Language Degree Programs
Colleges and universities in the United States are accredited by various agencies. There are both institutional and programmatic accreditations. Institutions are accredited through agencies at the regional and national levels.
National accrediting associations focus on technical or trade institutions as well as religious colleges.
Regional agencies recognized by the Department of Education accredit universities and colleges in their area. The country is broken up into six regions where each agency operates. The regional accreditation agencies share similar criteria for accreditation.
Regional accreditation agencies look at colleges and universities as a whole to determine if the governance and administration, academic offering, financial resources and mission statement meet their high standards.
The Higher Learning Commission Is a regional organization responsible for 19 states in the North Central region of the country. The six regional agencies are broken out on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website.
ACTFL and CAEP Accreditation are two specialized agencies that deal with foreign language accreditation at colleges and universities. Foreign language accreditation gives schools the stamp of approval by respected accrediting boards.
Certifications and Licensure
If you want to teach a foreign language, you need to obtain a teaching certificate in the state where you live. A foreign language teacher certification program online such as the ACTFL Foreign Language Teaching Methods course can solidify your teaching skills, but you will also have to take a PRAXIS or other exam depending on where you want to teach.
By obtaining foreign language certification online from coursera.org, you can beef up your resume and brushing up on language and classroom skills. A foreign language teacher certification program online can also help you get a tutoring job online. Online courses toward a certification may also be transferable.
A foreign language certification online is not as valuable as a bachelor’s or master’s degree but it can help you determine if you want to pursue a four-year or master’s degree in the field.
Scholarships for Foreign Language Students
There are many resources for students seeking foreign language major scholarships. Scholarships for foreign language majors include Boren Scholarships, a National Security Education Program initiative that provides funding for undergraduate students who want to study unique language abroad. Many scholarships are also available for online students.
Apply to foreign language scholarships for college for specific languages and from awarding bodies in your region. This may give you a better chance of getting the scholarship. There are many foreign language major scholarships that go unclaimed because students never hear about them. Do your research to find scholarships for foreign language majors that get you the best chance of success.
Foreign language scholarships for college make school more affordable and demand high academic standards of recipients. This may help students stay motivated to keep your grades up!