Careers in German

Robert Mevissen '09 majored in German and French, taught as a Fulbright Scholar/TA in Vienna for a year, and is now entering graduate studies in German and Modern European History at Georgetown University.

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Dear Students,

Here are some of the careers our CSB/SJU German majors and minors have entered.  Picture yourself in one or more of these!

International Business

Accounting, Management, Marketing, Finance

Although it is geographically rather small, Germany is economically among the three largest nations on earth. It is a world leader in imports and exports. More and more Americans are employed by German businesses operating in the U.S. and American businesses operating in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

College education involving one of the specialty areas of business and fluency in German opens the door to employment in industry involved in trade between the U.S.A. and Germany, Austria and/or Switzerland. An MBA in international business provides an added advantage.


There are job openings teaching German at the elementary, high school and college levels.

To prepare for a high school or elementary teaching career in German, a B.A. degree is a minimum. You will be required to pass a number of courses on the art of teaching as well as in German. Many elementary and secondary teachers also complete an advanced degree. If you wish to teach at the high school level, a second major field is advisable, as many schools desire to hire teachers who can teach in two subjects.

College teaching requires a minimum of an M.A. degree, but the Ph.D. degree is required by most colleges.

The U.S. Diplomatic Service

Officers in the U.S. diplomatic service and the U.S. Information Agency are required to know at least one language in addition to English. To enter the diplomatic service at least a B.A. is required. An M.A. is advisable. Persons seeking to enter the diplomatic service must do well in the U.S. government's Foreign Service Examination. A college major in German is good preparation for seeking a career in the diplomatic service. In addition to a German major, it is advisable to take a second major or a minor in economics, history, political science, or natural science.

International Law

There are increasing numbers of opportunities for international attorneys. Attorneys in international law are familiar with a branch of American law in addition to the law of another world area. Knowledge of a language other than English and a culture other than America's is essential. International attorneys serve business wishing to sell and/or produce in other countries and individuals having dealings in other countries.

International attorneys first take a B.A. and continue on to law school. A B.A. degree in German with a second major or a minor in history, political science, economics, or business is excellent preparation for law school, if international law is your desire. Clearly, a major in one of those areas combined with a minor in German is also good preparation. In any case be sure to take advantage of a semester or a year of study in Germany, Austria or Switzerland while in college to give yourself real experience using the language and experiencing the culture.

Study Abroad Offices in Colleges

Most colleges and universities have study abroad offices which assist college students who wish to study abroad. Such offices provide many career opportunities for people who are interested in language and culture. In addition to careers as study abroad advisors, there are many positions as recruiters for programs as well as directors on location in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Positions in college study abroad offices usually require a B.A. degree as a minimum. Many positions require the M.A. or even Ph.D. A major in German is excellent preparation for such a position. A minor or second major in such areas as geography, business, or other languages will be of advantage. In all cases be sure to spend a year of study in Germany, Austria or Switzerland during your college education to provide yourself with authentic experience.

Starting Your Own Business

There are many opportunities for entrepreneurs to start a business exporting to or importing from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. If you have an entrepreneurial urge, the German speaking market is huge and offers thousands of opportunities to become involved in the international movement of goods and services.

There are no requirements for entrepreneurs other than hard work, good decisions and a keen eye for the market. But, for those interested in the German speaking market, a good knowledge of German language and culture is very important and college business studies (as well as perhaps an international M.B.A.) would be very useful. Be sure to spend some of your educational time in a study program in Germany, Austria or Switzerland to provide yourself with real world experience with the people there.


A German major is a viable undergraduate major for those wishing to become physicians. Medical schools insist on a given number of undergraduate courses in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, (be sure to check with the pre-med. advisor), but medical schools actively seek a diversity of college majors. If you enjoy German language and culture, a college major in the language does not exclude medical school as a real option. In addition to fulfilling your own interests, the knowledge of German opens wide areas of medical research to you--while your colleagues wait for translations, you will have immediate access to the data.

Military Services

The U.S. military services offer a number of attractive programs for people with language learning aptitude. A number of scholarships are offered for college. Advanced language training is available while in the services at the language training school in California. Promotions in rank may be earned with language learning. See a military recruiter if you are interested and ask about military careers involving German.

Religious Careers

Should a calling to the service of religion be of interest to you, German will provide you with a valuable tool. A great many of the theologians and philosophers important to religion were German and their work was written in German. Many of the great living theologians today are German and write in German. Much of the world's leading work on comparative religion has been done in German. Knowledge of German will give you direct access to a very large body of important works in the field of religion.


Very many of the greatest musicians of all times were German--Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Stockhausen, Schubert, Schumann, etc. If you are interested in music and enjoy German studies, a double college major in music and German or a music/German major/minor combination makes a great deal of sense. German gives you direct access to the original musical manuscripts, the theory the composers put to paper, the letters of the composers, and many untranslated writings about the composers. In addition some of the best musical theory today is written in German. Some of the best orchestras and opera companies in the world today are German. Also German makes it meaningful for you to interact directly in the field of music in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Computer Related Careers

Computer experts have excellent chances to work internationally. There is a strong demand for computer consultants to travel internationally becoming involved in training and in research. Since, traditionally, those with strong computer interests have not also pursued language studies, the consultants who can operate most effectively are fairly rare and in demand. Preparing for a career in computers with the ability to function internationally clearly calls for college work in the field of computer science and with the addition of German (and preferably another language also) you are prepared to be quite effective in international markets. German is a particularly good first foreign language in that some of our strongest competitors and some of our best customers are Germans. Further, with the likely strong demand in Eastern Europe during the coming years, the combination of German and English fluency is of very great significance.

In Summary

Knowledge of German leads to relatively few careers in itself, but German combined with other interests opens hundreds of expanded career opportunities. The knowledge of German gives you a competitive edge which most Americans do not have . In a difficult job market, it is the competitive edge which can get you a job or get you a promotion.

The career fields indicated above are but a few of the many interesting and exciting possibilities using your skills in German language and knowledge of German culture. The world is more and more of a global village and more and more interests and skills are greatly enhanced through combination with language study. As you prepare for a career, do not be led into the mistake of believing that you have to give up your interest in German to pursue a career in another field. The most effective and successful persons are those who have broad interests and abilities and, more importantly, are able to combine those interests and abilities into new ideas and new approaches to problems. Your interest in and ability in German will constantly open new horizons for you and lead you constantly to new possibilities in life.

If you are interested in a career with international dimensions, start your language learning as early as possible. Advance as far as your high school offerings allow. The more language skill you have when you enter college, the more time you will save by not having to take lower level courses in college. The more advanced you are in your language the more possible it becomes to complete the double majors often mentioned above and the better you are able to prepare for an international career.

The enlargement of the EU continues to open up markets in Central and Eastern Europe for personnel who know German. Anyone who speaks German has much better prospects for a great career.

Professionals who know other languages are called on to travel and exchange information with people in other countries throughout their careers. Knowing more than one language enhances employment opportunities in government, business, law, medicine and health care, teaching, technology, the military, communications, social service, and marketing.

An employer will see you as a bridge to customers if you know a second language. You are also more likely to win the trust and friendship of people whose languages you know even if you don't speak it fluently.