A career in languages is as varied as it is interesting. For example, as a linguist you'll help people bridge the gap between countries and cultures. This field hold opportunities such as:

Interpreters: This is what we call mixing business with pleasure. You'll accompany business executives and government officials on their trips. Here, you'll not just be helping two people communicate but you will also represent your firm/country. The job calls for sensitivity to cultural differences. While interpreting you have to make sure that you retain the meaning of the original sentence.
It's a tough job, as you'll be interpreting simultaneously during conferences, meetings, speeches, etc. The interpreter in a sound proof room listens through headphones to the source speech and almost spontaneously interprets it to the target language into a microphone. This automatically gets transmitted to the earphones of the listeners.

Translators: You'll work with books, scripts and articles to translate them into the desired language. The works might be literary in nature or a simple technical manual. While, interpreters work with the spoken word, translator's work revolves around the written language.

Teacher: This is a broad classification. You could be teaching languages such as Hindi, English or any regional language in schools, colleges or even hold private courses for those who just wish to learn the basics. The same applies to foreign languages.

Linguistic: You will be an expert in origin, evolution, development, and contemporary form of various languages. You will research to find out the new developments in different languages. You will advice companies in certain fields like software companies developing speech recognition software. You will advice on the phonetics and other features of speech.


Linguists work for people in a variety of settings. Hence adaptability; good interpersonal skills and being an extrovert are essential qualities. A pleasant demeanour, patience and an ability to withstand strain are some other qualities needed to make it big in this line.

You have to be good in languages as well as intonations, tone, etc. You must have the ability to manipulate a certain language in a skilful way. You need to be well versed with what's happening both in your backyard and around the world. This will help you in your translations and also as an interpretator.

A good memory, concentration, rapid responses, speed and accuracy are essential personal qualities here. Translatory work requires meticulousness and accuracy of words. There should be clarity in your writing.

To be a good linguist you need to be good at picking up words and have a memory for new sounds and their meanings. You will also have to go in-depth into the grammar of the language, be familiar with its different versions, word connotations, sentence construction and usage patterns.

For a job in this field you need to have at least an MA in a language. In case of a teaching job in a school or university a diploma in that language will do.

Job Opportunities

Well, the list is just endless.

* You could work as a translator either in newspapers or publication houses
* MNCs: You could find work with multinationals who have set up their offices in India. They will need a translator or an interpreter until they learn the local language.

* Literature: Here, your expertise will be put to use in translating literary works of art, so that more and more people have access to good writing.
* International organisations: There are plenty of openings with The United Nations, World Health Organisation and others. Here you'll act as official translators to participants from different linguistic backgrounds that come to attend the meeting.

* International functions: Beauty pageants, discussion fora, group summits, etc also depend a lot on translators to get their message across.

* Universities and schools: If you care to share your skills you could work as a teacher. Most institutions the world over, have begun to consider linguists as an important element of study. Indian colleges offer French, German and Sanskrit as alternate languages for study. This creates need for full time staff for the languages.

* Corporates: With more and more companies sending their staff abroad either for training or for work purposes the need for linguists in this field has really shot up. You could conduct short-term language workshops for the staff to get them conversant with the language of the place of deputation.

* Private Tutors: You could your own master if you wish to. Holding language classes from the comforts of your home could be both convinient as well as lucrative.

* Travel & Tourism Industry: You'll be required to make brochures and books to be used a guide books to places of tourist interest.

* Bilingual secretaries are in demand with more and more firms.

* If employed with a radio station you'll work with a small team of people, listen to broadcasts from overseas stations, noting and translating important material and making transcriptions for news service.

* Industries, government, international organisations, organisations undertaking translation work and research organisations also employ translators.

* You can work with both Indian and Foreign Government offices as Interpreter.

* Interpreters and translators generally work as freelancers as there is no organised recruitment structure and most often the job is task specific.

Money & Other Benefits

Translators work independently and command the price they think is suitable. Depending on the amount of work you decide to take on, you can earn Rs 15,000-20,000 a month. If the workload is exceptionally heavy, then the amount earned can even go up to Rs 40,000!

Teachers start off at Rs 4,000-6,000 a month and progress up to Rs 20,000 or so. Private classes mint a lot of money. On an average you can charge a student around Rs 3,000-5,000 for a month's course.

Even a beginner can charge Rs 1000 a day. With some experinence it can go up to Rs 2000-2,500 per day (that is 75,000 per month!), for interpretation.

In many a situation when a real multi-lingual scenario comes up with many languages, an English interpreter may also tag along with the team. The second interpreter will just have to translate from English to the target language, which makes the job easier.

Translators also earn very well, with Rs 2-3 per word. And for all these, what you need is a flair for languages. For a tourist guide the normal rate is Rs 1,500 a day, for a beginner.

Career Prospects

Many feel that the advent of technology and language software spells doom for linguists. But the interpreter provides the human touch that is so essential to communication.

Globalisation has seen a multi-lingual scenario. Previously French, German and Spanish were considered to be the main languages. Now Chinese, Russian, etc., have opened up the markets.

Translation and interpretation are two fields where you can make cheap money in this new scenario. With liberalisation many MNCs have set up offices in India and they certainly need interpreters and translators. The first step in building up a career in these fields is to build contacts. Prove yourself and everything will fall into place. With the growth of the tourism industry, the need for guides expert in different languages has increased.



Languages is one of the most powerful forces to bring people together. It is an expression of internationalism. If you do have a flair for languages, you can consider acquiring the linguistic skills required.

Skills required

̃    As an integral part of the job eg. interpreter, translator, foreign language teacher etc.

̃    As supplementary to others jobs where language skills are considered an asset eg. travel and tourism, air lines, hotels, diplomatic services, export, personal management in multinational companies, journalism, mass communication, publishing etc. Further, the knowledge of a language like French helps an individual to further career prospects in specialised fields like Fashion Designing, Interior Decoration, French Cuisine etc. These days knowledge of foreign languages specially French, German, Russian, etc. enables students to get admission for studies in Universities in the respective countries.




This is the only type of full-time work available for interpreters, but there are   opportunities for freelance interpreters as well and many freelancers do   conference interpreting  as well as other forms of interpreting  and translating work. International organisations like the United  Nations, the EEC and other  trading organisations all use skilled interpreters at their conferences and meetings. Interpreters are  expected  to have exceptional proficiency in at least one and sometimes two foreign  languages. They always translate from their foreign language  (or  passive language) into their mother tongue (or active  language).There are  two  types  of interpreting  carried  out  at  international conferences.

Simultaneous  interpreting is a post-war technique  now  most favored  at conferences  though the most difficult to actually  do. It involves interpreters sitting in a sound-proof booth in view of the conference area listening to the speakers through headphones. They must then simultaneously translate what is  being  said for the benefit of their listeners via a microphone.

Consecutive interpreting is a technique where the speech is first delivered  in whole or in part by the speaker. It is then translated  by the interpreters, each  taking it in turns to speak.


The majority of linguists are not in permanent work  as conference interpreters  but  they are able to carry out  various types of free-lance  work  on an 'adhoc' basis. They  may  carry  out conference  interpreting on a temporary basis, but a common  form of interpreting  work is that of liasion interpreter.  Here  the linguistic acts as a go-between for a small group of people.  

The work of interpreters whether as employees or freelance  takes them  into  a  variety  of  settings  and  places. International organisations may require their interpreters to fly all over the world to translate at all the important international conferences or meetings attended by their  representatives. This  involves spending a lot of time travelling and staying in hotels. Freelance   interpreters in particular will face different work environments and conditions as they go on from one job  to the next. One week they may be carrying  out  translation work at home, the next week they may be hired to help interpret at  a conference.

Personal Characteristics

The  ability to  acquire an in-depth knowledge  and  perfect understanding of one or more foreign languages.

Fluency in speech

Quick analytical mind

The  ability to concentrate totally for long periods of time

Mental stamina and considerable self-confidence

Job Opportunities

Although there  are  full-time  jobs  available for conference interpreters with international organisations there are very few vacancies  and posts available. Most assignments are free-lance and employed by organisations and  companies for  specific  conferences  and meetings. Most new freelancers also have other jobs, at least  initially  in order to earn a living from which  they  can take time off to do the occasional few days interpreting.



While interpreting is concerned with the spoken word, translating is concerned with the written word. Translators are  engaged  by international organisations  dealing in politics, trade or commerce as well as by major firms with international interests. Most work as freelancers and are engaged on a  temporary basis. Translation work can be divided  into two main categories  technical, scientific, and commercial, or literary each requiring very different methods and expertise.

Translation of written material is very much a desk, typewriter / computer and library job. This means working in an office at  the employer's  establishment  or at home. All translators need to carry out their research in public or specialist libraries from time to time or may need to visit specialists or other organisations to gain further information. Those also engaged in carrying out  interpreting  work have a more varied work environment.

Personal Characteristics

In-depth knowledge of at least one foreign language

Flair for writing

Persistence and attention to detail

Self-motivated and disciplined

Job Opportunities

Most translators find work on a  free-lance  basis, operating through  agencies  and gaining experience and expertise by this method.

The main types of employer are as follows :

Industry and commerce

The UN and other organisations

Freelance work

Pay and other conditions

Translators are paid Rs. 400-600 per page for languages such as French, German and Spanish and Rs. 500-700 per page for languages such as Japanese, Arabic and Russian. However, the remuneration depends on how often you work and what type of work you are doing.



Another career avenue for linguists, is teaching in schools, colleges, universities or in institutions which impart specialised training in foreign languages. Professors get a salary of Rs. 4000 - Rs. 7000 per month. Private tuition's in foreign languages or teaching English as a foreign languages can be a lucrative career prospect where you may earn Rs. 100 per hour.

There is no well defined career path. Success in this field of foreign languages depends on proficiency, initiative and enterprise. “Language is a breeding ground for effective communication. It is the secret of a good communicator’s success. It is the stepping stone which catapults conversation and facilitates healthy interaction between two speakers. Any language helps to pave the path towards the listener’s heart. A tourist who is unable to communicate with a foreigner because of language problems wins his heart and cooperation merely by speaking few broken words of the foreign language. Even if the speaker fills the gaps in conversation with the body movements and gestures, he touches the chords of the listener’s emotions and wins his confidence, “ says Dr. Meeta Ghosh, a language professional in English and French and who runs Ecole de Languages.