The 8 careers where speaking another language is vital

Languages are an incredible asset for the career minded. Not only do they open doors to business opportunities, they cement trust and understanding between collaborators and strangers.

Outside of teaching and translation, the number of jobs requiring language skills is considerable and keeps growing, and with 72% of Brits believing that an extra language will give them a leg up in the jobs market, the team at language learning app Babbel ( have put together a list of jobs in which speaking another language is hugely helpful.

1. Tour Guide

If you have the soul of a traveller and the savings account of a student, then learn a couple of languages and work as a tour guide! Most guided tours consist of a detailed plan in a somewhat controlled environment. (The uncontrolled part usually includes the weather!) You can travel and work as you go, jumping from continent to continent, while either providing services for an employer, or kickstarting your own business by running your own tours.

2. International Aid Worker

If you’re headed to foreign climes and want to get involved with charity work, then linguistic skills are going to be vital. With so many amazing charities doing incredible work all over the world, communication is key in analysing what is a priority in any given situation. Languages will also act as an essential tool for developing other skill sets, be they anything from engineering to medicine, and will give you the edge when having to deal with local disputes.

3. Foreign Correspondent

Whether you’re tracking down an elusive source in Grozny, Chechnya, or recording vox pops in a busy South American city – you’re going to need to communicate with the locals somehow. Not all news outlets will foot the bill for an interpreter, so to score a role as a foreign correspondent, it pays to be multilingual.

4. Diplomacy - International Organisations

As you can imagine, working in diplomacy, or even in an international company, is going to require some level of second language use along the way. Working across language and cultural barriers makes a firm basis in language essential, after all – who knows where you will be sent! Speaking the local lingo is an invaluable skill in sticky situations, and even for getting the job in the first place. Did you know that the EU and European Commission conduct their second stage interviews in an institutional language, which is not the candidate’s mother tongue?

5. Work for the Military

A career in the military has the potential to take you to exotic places all around the world (especially if you’re the citizen of a country with military bases abroad) – but don’t expect to climb up the ranks without language skills. Recently, according to The Telegraph UK, army officers were told to learn a foreign language or abandon any dreams of a promotion.

6. Police

Although the police might not be your first thought when it comes to jobs that need language skills, the ability to communicate in every situation is something that police officers use every day. Whether it’s dealing with a crime in an airport, an incident in a main city centre, as a policeman/woman you never know what skills you’ll need, and when time is in short supply, clear and direct communication can be a lifesaver.

7. Opera Singer

An ear for music and a hefty pair of lungs are not an opera singer’s only prerequisites. The most famous operas were written in Italian, and although you don’t need to understand the
lyrics to enjoy the music, it’s absolutely crucial if you expect to make a living singing opera. In fact, almost all musical terminology we use in English has been taken straight from Italian including basso, tenor, alto, soprano, and orchestra, to name just a few.

8. Master Sommelier

‘Sommelier’ is French for ‘wine steward’ and it’s a sommelier’s job as a restaurant’s certified wine expert to ‘curate’ the wine menu, so you can imagine that a good grasp of language is key to understanding the wine. From ‘old world’ wines from France, Germany and Spain, to the ‘new world’ variety of Argentina, Canada and Peru, language is going to be key. To become a master sommelier (which fewer than 200 people have done in the last 40 years) one’s knowledge must extend from the glass in hand to the very ground from which the grapes grow – which means steeping oneself in the history, laws, cultures and, of course, languages of all these regions. 


CareersEmily Baulf