Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world.
~ Rumi ~
After English, Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish, Arabic (along with French) is the fifth most commonly spoken language in the world. Yet, in Australia, it's hard to find a school actually teaching Arabic.
If you are learning Arabic or thinking about it — here's a list of a few of the careers you will have open to you where you can use your Arabic skills.
Teaching Arabic in Schools or Language Institutes
For many students, learning Arabic is the first step on their pathway to becoming a languages teacher.
If you're not convinced you want to work with young students in a formal school setting, there are other ways to teach and share your skills, including university tutoring, private tutoring or work in a language school.
For people who want to work in primary school, high school or senior high school settings, a Bachelor of Education or its postgraduate equivalent is required. You can apply to enrol in a 4-year Bachelor of Education degree and study Arabic as your major.
Alternatively, you can complete your Arabic degree course and then apply for a 2-year postgraduate teaching degree. Generally speaking, a high school languages teacher is required to have at least two languages or one language and another subject area in which they can teach.
Teaching in a school setting is not for everyone though and, if this is you, there are other Arabic jobs you can apply for, including:
- work as an agency tutor
- teaching in a languages school or institute
- cultural associations.
You should decide whether you want to work with children, high school students or adults and what level you feel comfortable teaching. In most cases, education and teacher qualifications are not required for these roles, though they can be an advantage. The benefit of being able to teach Arabic is that, with so few Arabic teachers, if you apply for a job, you're likely to get it.
Private tutoring is also a great job option. Of course, as a private tutor, you will have to source students yourself. Once you have built a solid reputation as a teacher, this will be easier and the advantages when you work for yourself are worth it — choose your students, select the hours you work, set your tutoring fees, teach the way you want to teach and so on.
You can also combine your Arabic study with teaching English and travelling. Many students who are learning Arabic apply to teach English in Arabic-speaking countries. Here, you can experience Arabic culture, enjoy teaching English to all sorts of students and community members and improve your own Arabic skills at the same time.
Translating and Interpreting
For people with language experience and high-level skills in reading, writing and speaking, translating and interpreting are in-demand Arabic jobs.
As a translator, you will work translating Arabic texts into English. Generally speaking, unless you are bilingual or have proven native speaker proficiency, you won't be required to translate English into Arabic.
Close attention to detail and an understanding of the nuances of language are essential for all translation jobs. An exceptional command of English is also required, along with in-depth knowledge of different written genres, as you will likely be translating a wide range of texts from technical services documents and academic resources through to fiction — although, you may end up specialising in a particular field.
Translators generally work for agencies or as freelancers.
In both cases, a postgraduate (masters) degree in translation is recommended, though not necessarily required.
For those who are confident oral communicators, interpreting jobs are also an option.
The main difference between translating and interpreting is that translating deals with written documents, whereas interpreting deals with spoken language.
As an Arabic-English interpreter, you will work to support native speakers of English and Arabic. An interpreter is usually required to ensure communication between two parties who don't share a common language is maintained and the meaning is accurate. Interpreters are often required for formal functions or speeches, but also to provide support for teacher and parent communication at school or various community services.
As with translation, where the ability to read and write Arabic does not necessarily mean you have translation skills, the ability to speak Arabic and English does not mean you will be able to interpret effectively. Further study is needed to equip you with the specific skills needed for both translation and interpretation.
Studying Arabic in high school may give you a head start in developing a career as a translator or interpreter.
Work in the Tourism Industry
The tourism sector is another industry where employees with Arabic (and other) language skills are in demand.
Find Arabic tutors and lessons here.
While there is not as much demand for the more commonly spoken languages, like Japanese, French or German, the industry is in need of people who can communicate proficiently in Arabic. If you have skills in multiple foreign languages — even better.
The tourism and hospitality industries are all about clear communication and customer services — and speaking the language of your clients is a key part of this.
You can apply for positions in tourist resorts, restaurants, aeroplanes, cruise ships, tourist attractions and even as a personal guide, where you will be using your Arabic speaking (and reading) skills constantly.
To get ahead in your hospitality career, a university degree in Arabic will certainly be useful.
Become a Journalist
Unsurprisingly, communication skills in a foreign language (or languages) is an ideal way to get ahead in your media or journalism career — particularly if your goal is to be an overseas correspondent.
Whether you work as a print journalist or as an interviewer on the news, you will need skills with speaking as well as reading and writing — obviously in English but also in Arabic.
When looking for jobs, search for media and news outlets that do work with Arabic-speaking countries, or focus on providing news for the local Arabic community. This may mean travelling to these countries as well.
Reading ability is highly sought after for journalists who report on news from Arabic-speaking countries. Waiting for the English language version of the news to break is too late.
The ability to accurately translate and communicate news in English is essential and, as such, courses in translation could be advantageous.
Work as an Arabic Consultant or Specialist
With the rise of Arabic countries in the global market, there is a need for more specialists and consultants in Arabic culture and contemporary Arabic issues.
A strong proficiency in the language and its range of dialects is required by consultants but people who work in this capacity also require an in-depth knowledge of specific aspects of Arabic society.
Of course, consultants do not need to know everything. They will, in fact, specialise in specific areas or in a specific Arabic-speaking country. Consultants will often conduct research at a university level or support and advise businesses that work within Arabic markets.
High demand currently means the salary is excellent. However, the expectation is that a consultant will have an exceptional level of experience and knowledge within their area. Consultants may also deal with sensitive information and, in all instances, it is crucial that the advice they provide is accurate and current.
Consultants would also be expected to have considerable in-country experience.
Start Your Career Overseas
Arabic language skills also open your career options overseas — not only in Arabic-speaking countries but other international locations as well.
Community organisations, not-for-profit groups and humanitarian work often benefit from workers with foreign language skills.
In addition, you can apply to work in international relations or civil services. Businesses owned by international corporations are also often looking for employees with skills in foreign languages, including Arabic.
Even having Arabic on your Year 12 Certificate can be a bonus.
To optimise your career opportunities, you may also wish to consider further specialisations. While on-the-job experience is also good, supplementary degrees or courses will enhance your CV.
As an example, if you want to work in the tourism industry as a personal guide or act as the official interpreter for a large organisation, an Arabic degree followed by postgraduate courses in translation or interpretation would be beneficial.
The key is to maximise your experience and your skill set once you have a clear idea of the Arabic jobs you wish to pursue.
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