The Best Majors and Careers in Language and Culture

Ginger Abbot

Jun 26, 2020
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Are you fascinated by college majors or careers in language and culture? Maybe you speak fluent Japanese or you want to know more about South American history, or you might just dream of spending your life traveling from place to place.

Whatever your interests, there are so many opportunities for language and culture lovers across numerous industries and fields. A cultural degree can take you all around the world!

Here are some college majors and post-graduate careers in language and culture well worth considering.

1. Modern Language Major

A modern language degree can open many doors. Typically, students choose one or two languages that they want to learn throughout college. You’ll learn more about a language’s origins and culture, all while you become fluent. Most class and department sizes are small, as fewer students create room for one-on-one time with professors.

Career Application — Interpreter or Translator

Once you graduate, it’s possible to pursue a few different career paths. Most modern language majors look for jobs where they can speak the language that they learned. That’s why interpretation and translation positions are popular. These roles require you to adapt materials into a language that everyone can understand.

You may find a role with a company that conducts business with a relevant country. There, you’d likely work with clients to break down any language barriers. You can also pursue a modern language alongside another concentration, like social work. Those credentials would help you become a social worker in another country.

2. Linguistic Anthropology Major

If you enjoy a language’s societal aspects more than its technicalities, here’s one of the best careers for culture lovers. A linguistic anthropology major explores language’s influence on society and its related ideologies and beliefs. Essentially, why does language matter? You’ll likely learn about several different languages, modern and dead. Plus, you may have to complete a dissertation or fieldwork.

Career Application — Professor or Researcher

Most linguistic anthropologists can find work for universities or organizations. You’ll probably need a graduate degree to pursue certain roles, as well as a doctorate if you want to become a professor. That said, it’s possible to find entry-level work to begin your career. An institute could hire you to source data that helps develop insight into a specific topic. As a professor, you’d teach courses about linguistic anthropology.

It helps to have organizational and analytic skills for jobs dealing with culture.

3. International Studies Major

language and culture majors

Are you after college majors that involve travel? An international studies major can help you pursue a passionate career all while you earn an income. This major pairs language with business to create a degree that’s relevant for today’s corporate world. You’ll learn about global development as it relates to the economy and politics.

Career Application — Lobbyist or Consultant

An international studies major can lead to different opportunities throughout the public and private sectors. Many graduates find work with government agencies, so you could become a lobbyist for a certain organization. You could also work as a consultant to help companies navigate various business decisions. Many people who pursue this field tend to travel for their jobs.

4. English as a Second Language (ESL) Major

An ESL major can help you work with children. You’ll combine your passion for language with your love for education. An ESL major teaches you how to help others learn English. You’ll take classes on linguistics and phonology, as well as instruction methods. You can also expect to learn about special education as it relates to ESL. Those enrolled become more knowledgeable about English itself.

careers for culture lovers

Career Application — Teacher

For the most part, ESL students become teachers upon graduation. They almost always pursue a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification to ensure that they can teach abroad. You can focus on a specific group, like older adults or younger children. After you pass this test, you’ll be able to help children learn around the world. You’ll need to complete state requirements if you want to teach ESL at an American school.

You can expect this career choice to be beneficial for many children — there are more than 5 million English learners in schools across the U.S.!

5. Cultural Studies Major

Do you want to examine social, cultural and literary theory? A cultural studies major looks into issues that make up race, class and ethnicity. You can expect to discover different texts and materials that highlight value and belief systems. Why do we do what we do, and why do we think what we think? You’ll explore ideas from anthropology and economics to psychology that help you interpret culture as a whole.

Career Application — Non-Profit Manager

Because a cultural studies major highlights certain societal characteristics, you’ll be able to navigate those spaces more efficiently. That’s why non-profit management serves as one of the best careers in cultural studies. You’ll manage outreach campaigns, events and relations for a non-profit. A manager for a non-profit typically works with a local community to provide resources. You can then make a direct difference.

Explore These Majors and Careers in Language and Culture

consider careers in language and culture

If you want to look into studies and jobs that involve culture and travel, be sure to check out these options. They’ll offer you the opportunity to explore new cultures, learn new languages, and travel the world — both through college study abroad and post-graduate international careers. The world is your oyster!

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