Portuguese Literature and Language

Learn about the different types of careers available to graduates of Portuguese literature and language programs. Find information about employment and salary outlook for international executives and lawyers, college professors, interpreters and translators here.

Is the Study of Portuguese Literature and Language for Me?

Career Overview

Portuguese maritime exploration in the Middle Ages is the basis for much of the nation's literature and the expansion of its native tongue. While much of its early history is linked to Spain, there are as many differences as there are similarities between the Spanish and Portuguese languages; however, many schools teach Spanish and Portuguese as one combined major.

Career Options and Potential Salaries

As a graduate of a Portuguese literature and language program, you may be qualified for a position in academia, government, foreign language translation or international business and law. According to information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), opportunities for employment and potential salaries can vary according to field and occupational title.

For example, the BLS projected a 19%, or faster-than-average, growth in employment nationwide for college and university teachers in general between 2012 and 2022. Those who were specifically employed as foreign language and literature teachers in May 2013 had an average salary of $66,300.

By comparison, interpreters and translators can look forward to a 46%, or much-faster-than-average, increase in employment from 2012-2022. As of May 2013, interpreters and translators earned average yearly salaries of $47,420.

The BLS also reported that attorneys and top executives, including those employed in international business or law, can expect an average growth in jobs between 2012 and 2022. In May 2013, attorneys and top executives in general had average yearly incomes of $131,990 and $121,010, respectively (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Portuguese Literature and Language Studies?

Undergraduate Programs

Some undergraduate degree programs include introductory Portuguese language studies for Spanish speakers. Individual schools may offer a major in Luso-Brazilian language, which can help you identify the cultural connections between Portugal and Brazil. Core coursework might cover topics in advanced grammar, Luso-Brazilian literature and Portuguese civilization. As a Portuguese major, you may also have the opportunity to conduct research, pursue directed readings and study abroad.

Graduate Programs

A master's degree program in Portuguese is one way for you to acquire advanced-level knowledge of early travel and modern literature, language development, literature and syntax. Language development courses typically cover topics in grammar, structure and style. Potential areas of focus may include contemporary Afro-Brazilian culture, Brazilian cinema, history and popular music. Portuguese cultural and historical studies can also be found through doctoral programs in literature and language, which would allow you to study the culture, history and linguistics of the region. As a doctoral student, you'd pursue independent research and work closely with faculty members to write and defend your dissertation.

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