The Highest-Paying Foreign Language Degrees – Degrees and Careers

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“Change your language and you change your thoughts” – Karl Albrecht


First of all, bravo for being here! Congratulations on your ambition to earn a new degree, begin a new career, or improve your job prospects.

Here at Degree Query, we aim to help you decide whether a field of study is a good fit for you, and help you find the best degree program within it. Today we’re looking at Foreign Language degrees and the lucrative careers they can lead to.

One of the most transferrable skills you can learn is speaking a foreign language. If you speak English and Spanish, French, Arabic, Japanese, or any other major language, you’ll find a litany of job opportunities requiring fluency in your language of choice. You could work as a translator, teacher, in sales, for government agencies, among many other options.

Outside of economic opportunities, learning another language will stimulate and challenge your mind, add to the number of places you can comfortably travel to, and help you see the world from new perspectives. If you’ve ever enjoyed a movie or book that was translated to English, you’ve likely wondered what it’s like to experience it in the creator’s native tongue. Once you’re fluent in another language, you won’t need to wonder anymore. You’ll also gain a new vantage point to help you explore your own life, thoughts, culture, and language Stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to incredible benefits, intellectually, empathetically, and practically.

However, we’re here to explore foreign language degrees that facilitate high earnings. Studies and reports have found that bilingual workers earn more than their monolingual counterparts. There’s also been a growing demand in the past two decades for bilingual workers, especially those who speak Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. 

Remember, the demand for specific foreign languages depends on what position you want and what country you want to live in. For example, there’s probably a lower demand for Americans that speak English and Swedish than there would be for Americans that speak English and Arabic. With that being said, a job in Sweden likely means a higher wage and better benefits than you could expect to do the same work in America.

In this guide, we’ll go over the highest paying jobs that foreign language degrees can lead to. We’ll explore your options, and what would be required of you to fill these positions. We’ll also examine earnings in these top roles, employment statistics, and more. Let’s examine some questions and considerations that can help you determine whether a foreign language degree is right for you.

As you go through this guide, and throughout your search for a new degree, use the following prompts to organize your ambitions into firm goals, frameworks, and timelines. As you describe what your ideal foreign language degree program looks like you’ll whittle down what schools and programs you apply to:

  • What’s your current educational and career experience? What degree have you earned? How has your background prepared you to study a foreign language?
  • Do you have foreign language skills? Where have you thrived in foreign language studies previously? Where have you faced difficulties?
  • Foreign Language degrees demand constant practice, creativity, and a commitment to solving new problems. Are you someone who blossoms when presented with unfamiliar challenges?
  • What are your long and short term goals? If you could work in any position, what would you choose? What country would you live in if you could live anywhere? Are your career ambitions broad or specific?
  • It’s OK if you don’t know exactly what you’d like to do with a foreign language. There are many roles and responsibilities in diverse countries that demand foreign language skills. It will behoove you to pick a language to study before exploring your degree and career options.
  • What degree level would you like to reach? Are there degree requirements for a specific role you want?

  • A graduate or doctoral degree in a foreign language can lead to coveted roles working as a diplomat, academic, in the military, in private businesses, and non-profits, among many other organizations.
  • What delivery format do you want for your foreign language degree?
  • You’ll probably be able to choose between part and full-time study depending on the program you select. There will likely be accelerated options, allowing you to finish a degree quicker than the average student. You can choose between online programs, in-person, or hybrids of the two options.
  • How much time can you commit to a foreign language degree each day, week, and in total before finishing it? Will you be working as you earn your degree? What are the daily and weekly obligations you must meet and build an education schedule around?
  • Some programs are designed for working adults to complete. You’ll be much more likely to continue and succeed in a degree program if it works with your schedule, which is extremely important.
  • How much can you spend on a foreign language degree? How much might you need to borrow to complete one? Do you qualify for scholarships or student aid?
  • Reach out to any school you’re interested in about potential funding opportunities. Make sure to take out fixed-rate public loans over private, adjustable interest rate loans.
  • Where do you want to study as you complete a foreign language degree, and live once you’ve finished one?
  • This is especially important for foreign language degrees. While there will likely be employment opportunities in multiple countries, having an idea of where you’d like to work considering what language you’re studying will be instrumental to your school selection process and career.
  • What specializations or majors are available within a foreign language degree you’re considering? How will these help you reach your career goals? You might be able to study an international degree with a specialization in political science, business, or another area of interest.
  • What are the pros and cons of attending a school you’re considering? How likely is it that you’ll be accepted to a particular program? Some schools have a desired GPA and minimum standardized test scores they’re looking for from applicants.

Reaching out to support staff at a school you’re interested in can help you in your selection process and in preparing your application. You might find an ally within the school’s administration that can help you in your application process. It’s also helpful to read reviews from students who have attended a program you’re considering.

These are just a smattering of the considerations and questions you should ponder when looking for a degree program and school. Write down any that apply to you that aren’t here, and try to answer them for individual schools to help you compare your options.

Now let’s look at some of the highest paying positions for foreign language degree graduates: is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

What are the Highest Paying Foreign Language Jobs?

In this section, we’ll explore some of the lucrative foreign language careers a degree can prepare you for. Graduates of foreign language degree programs work in many diverse roles, so remember, there are more high-paying positions that might not be here.


Interpreters and translators turn communication and information from one language into another. They often work in schools, hospitals, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Many work remotely. Translators and interpreters may have flexible work schedules, although most work full time.  The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics found that people in these roles earned a 2019 median pay of $51,830, or $24.92 per hour. The typical entry-level education for people in these positions is a Bachelor’s degree.

Soft Skills:

  • Communication
  • Patience
  • Empathy
  • Gentleness

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager

Marketing Managers create a desire for products and services. They may use digital and traditional advertising methods, unique campaigns, and significant research into their markets. People in these roles often work in corporate offices. BLS found that their 2019 median pay was $135,900, or $65.34 per hour.  (Learn more about how much you can make with a degree in digital marketing.) Most marketing managers hold at least a Bachelor’s degree. If a product or service is being released to a foreign country, speaking both languages creates considerable upside.

Soft Skills:

  • Persistence
  • Creativity
  • Insight
  • Time Management

Lodging Manager

Lodging Managers make sure that guests have an excellent stay at their location. They coordinate and supervise employees and ensure efficiency and profitability. Most people in these roles work full-time or more extended hours, considering that most hotels and lodges are open 24 hours a day. Speaking multiple languages increases job options and desirability for lodging managers. BLS reports that the median 2019 pay for lodging managers was $54,430, or $26.17 per hour. The typical entry-level education for these roles is a high school diploma, but higher degrees in hospitality, foreign languages, and other related disciplines are common.

Soft Skills:

  • Organization
  • Time Management
  • Friendliness
  • Attention to Detail


Also known as foreign service officers in America, these professionals work for the State Department. They propose and implement policies, resolutions, and negotiate with international representatives. They’re often assigned to a post for at least a year. People in these positions often have multiple degrees in foreign languages, law, international relations, economics, and political science. Payscale reports that the average salary for foreign service officers is $88,994, but there’s considerable variability depending on their pay grade, where they’re assigned, among other factors. 

Soft Skills:

  • Patience
  • Communication
  • Breadth of Knowledge
  • Flexibility

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary Teachers instruct students beyond the high school level. They may work at private or public colleges and universities, graduate schools, and community or junior colleges. They advise students, conduct research, and publish original works. They typically need at least a Master’s degree, if not a Ph.D. BLS found that their 2019 median pay was $79,540. By studying a foreign language, you increase the likelihood of working in multiple countries in these roles. 

Soft Skills:

  • Resilience
  • Charisma
  • Empathy
  • Organization

These are just a few of the high paying jobs you can qualify for with a foreign language degree (among other credentials). We’ve tried to reflect roles that you can enter with just an undergraduate degree and mid to later-career positions. Remember: your degree in a foreign language could likely need supplementation in another area. It’s common for people to minor in a foreign language while majoring in another area they plan to use that language in. 

Speaking of which, let’s look at some of the degrees you can combine with foreign language study to best prepare yourself for a lucrative career:

What Degrees Supplement Foreign Language Study?

Advertising, Communications, Marketing Degrees

In these programs, you’ll learn about effective sales strategies, advertising tactics, copywriting, media planning, and more. You’ll learn how to write efficiently, edit, and use visual arts and design to accomplish specific goals. Students in these degrees will likely work with statistics and do market research. You can expect a steady and growing job market after graduating. Combining a degree in this area with foreign language study can successfully prepare you to market in domestic and international markets.

Political Science Degrees

Here you’ll study political theory, movements, philosophy, history, strategies, international relations, and much more. You’ll gain reasoning, analysis, research, and argumentative skills. You may specialize in particular governments, eras, public policy, among other areas. You’ll likely be asked to do data analysis, research, and work with statistics. Supplementing a political science degree with foreign language studies can prepare you for diplomatic or consulting work in multiple countries.

[GRAPHIC 6: Foreign language study presents opportunities in business, diplomacy, education, and more!] 

Education Degrees

If you’d like to teach a foreign language eventually, this is the degree for you. There’s a wide variety of education degrees, depending on what you’d like to accomplish after graduation. Coursework will often involve the philosophy of education, learning psychology, teaching methods, and much more. Some programs are related explicitly to bilingual and multilingual teaching. In these programs, you’ll study language acquisition, build vocabulary, and work with students from various cultural backgrounds. 

Hospitality Management Degrees

In these degrees and certification programs, you’ll learn how to run restaurants, casinos, resorts, hotels, airlines, and more. There are usually no formal education requirements for these roles, but by earning a certification, associate, or bachelor degree in this area, you can demonstrate your competency to employers. Combining a hospitality management degree or certification with foreign language study can prepare you to work for international organizations, foreign businesses, or domestic companies that serve overseas clients. 

History Degrees

Here you’ll study the history of modern and ancient civilizations around the world. You’ll likely concentrate on specific eras or countries. Standard courses might include Military History, The Renaissance, Colonialism, American History, and much more. These degrees are often customizable and can be tailored to your interests and career ambitions. If you want to work as a historian in another country, studying a foreign language could be instrumental to your success.

Business Degrees

You’ll get a foundational business and management education in these programs. You might opt for specializations or focuses on finance, real estate, international trade, computer information systems, or accounting. Courses might include Economics, Project Management, Business Theory, Business Law and Ethics, Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship, and more. Supplementing a business degree with foreign language study will prepare you to work in a country of your choice, or help a domestic business serve international customers.

These are just a few of the degrees that can supplement a foreign language education. So how do you go about picking a particular discipline? 

Let’s take a look at what we’ve done to help you find a foreign language degree:


How Can We Help You Find a Foreign Language Degree?


At Degree Query, we work hard to help you decide if a degree discipline is right for you – and if so – where to find one that matches your particular need and ambitions. To these ends, we’ve provided several forms of content to help you decide your path and guide you. 


We’ve answered frequently asked questions, ranked schools and degrees, written comprehensive guides and resources, and much more. Here’s some of the work we’ve done on foreign language degrees:






What Can I Do with a Degree in German?
What Can I Do with a Degree in Spanish?
What Can I Do With an Italian Degree?
What Can I Do With a Middle Eastern & African Studies Degree?
What Can I Do with a Degree in South Asian Studies?
What Can I Do With a Latin American Studies Degree?
What Can I Do with a Degree in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences?
What Can I Do With a Russian & East European Languages Degree?
What Can I Do With a French Degree?
What Can I Do With a Degree in East and South Asian Studies?
What Can I Do With a Linguistics Degree?
How to Learn a Foreign Language

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Become A Teacher of a Foreign Language If I’m Not a Native Speaker in That Language?
Do I Need to Be Able to Speak Both Languages in a Bilingual School?
If I Am Coming From a Foreign Country, What Do I Need to Do to Be Eligible to Apply to a PA Program?
How Difficult is it to Become Fluent in Japanese Compared to Other Languages?

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Speech Therapist?

This is just some of the content we’ve produced that covers language acquisition, working in other countries, and the degrees that will help you across diverse careers. If there’s a specific language or discipline you want to work in, please use our search bar to find all the content we have on it.

Remember, if you find a school or program through our content that you’re interested in, reach out to their support staff directly. You can gain valuable insights about what it takes to be accepted, what the program will entail, and much more.

Before closing the guide, let’s look at more detailed wage and employment information in several foreign language-related fields.

Highest Paying Foreign Language Degrees in Conclusion

Studying foreign languages is an intellectually enriching experience that can open opportunities across the globe. Here’s some information on pay and employment potential in the years to come. The following information was gathered from BLS except where noted:

Interpreters and Translators

  • People in these roles made a 2019 median salary of $51,830, or $24.92 per hour.
  • There were 76,100 of these jobs in 2018. This was predicted to jump by 19% between 2018-28, creating 14,600 new roles.
  • The top 10% of people in these roles earned over $94,370 in 2019.



Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

  • Workers in these jobs earned a median pay of $135,900 in 2019, or $65.34 per hour.
  • There were 286,800 of these jobs in 2018, which was expected to rise by 8% between 2018-28. This would lead to 21,800 new jobs in the field.
  • The top 10% of these workers earned over $208,000 in 2019.

Lodging Managers

  • Lodging Managers earned a median salary of $54,430 in 2019, or $26.17 per hour.
  • There were 52,600 Lodging Managers in 2018, which BLS expected to rise by 1% between 2018-28, creating 600 new roles.
  • The top 10% of Lodging Managers made more than $105,720 in 2019.

Foreign Service Officers

  • According to Payscale, the average salary for a Foreign Service Officer is $88,994.
  • The top 10% of people in these roles made over $121,000.

Postsecondary Teachers

  • Postsecondary Teachers made a median salary of $79,540 in 2019.
  • There were 1,350,700 workers in these positions in 2018. This was predicted to jump by 11% between 2018-28, creating 155,000 new positions.
  • The top 10% of Postsecondary Teachers earned over $174,960 in 2019.

We hope you’ve found this guide informative and clarifying in your degree hunt and career goals. Check back soon with Degree Query for new resources, and best of luck!