Japanese Literature and Language

A Japanese language and literature program can help you acquire the cultural sensitivity and language skills you need to pursue a career in business, education or travel. Continue reading to learn more about degree options and useful courses for Japanese language and literature specialists.

Is Japanese Language and Literature for Me?

Career Overview

Japanese language and literature degree programs are designed to develop your skills in speaking, reading and writing Japanese. You also learn about the Japanese culture, customs and behaviors. This could lead to careers in translation and interpretation, academia or international business. You may also find a job in journalism, government or tourism.

Career Skills

Depending on the career you pursue, you may need a variety of skills, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), including the abilities to make decisions, solve problems, communicate effectively, interact well with strangers and manage your time well. Organization, perseverance, creativity and a thorough understanding of Japanese are also useful. Many of these positions require the willingness to travel, an ability to meet deadlines and the stamina to work more than 40 hours per week (www.bls.gov).

Career Outlook

The job outlook varies depending on the career you're hoping to pursue. For instance, the BLS projected that translators and interpreters would see a 46% increase in jobs nationwide between 2012 and 2022. During the same 10-year period, employment of high school teachers would increase by a slower-than-average rate of 6%, while university professors would see a 19% growth in opportunities. The number of jobs for flight attendants and travel agents are projected to decline between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov).

Salary Potential

In May 2012, the median annual salary for travel agents was $34,530 and $40,520 for flight attendants, according to the BLS. High school teachers made a median annual salary of $55,360 and foreign language and literature professors earned a median of $58,620 during that same period. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for interpreters and translators was $42,420.

How Can I Work in Japanese Literature and Language?

Undergraduate Programs

You need to have a firm grasp of Japanese culture and language, which you can acquire through a bachelor's degree program. Upon graduation, you could pursue a career as an interpreter or translator, a teacher, a travel agent or a tour guide. Your undergraduate Japanese language curriculum typically covers grammar, vocabulary, oral comprehension and the Japanese writing system. You broaden your understanding of Japan's literary tradition, society and culture by studying literary works, films and other media. You may also participate in a study abroad program, spending time at a Japanese university and engaging in onsite linguistic and cultural studies.

Graduate Programs

With a bachelor's degree, you could also pursue a graduate degree program in business, economics, international relations or Japanese language and literature. This could lead to positions in translation and interpretation, international business or teaching at a college or university. At the master's and doctoral degree levels, you can pursue a concentration in Japanese literature or linguistics, or an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes a combination of language, literature and cultural studies.

Graduate-level coursework may address modern, classical and medieval literary themes, Japanese literary theories and poetry. You may study techniques for teaching Japanese pronunciation, Japanese linguistic history and translation strategies. Other courses may cover Japanese art, behaviors, cultures, philosophies and religious practices. To graduate, you must demonstrate proficiency in Japanese, conduct research relevant to your specialization and, for the doctoral degree program, write a doctoral dissertation.

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