Chinese Literature and Language

Chinese literature and language is a multidisciplinary field that includes studies in anthropology, art, history and language. Continue reading for more information about career options, salaries, degree programs and course topics for Chinese language and literature scholars.

Is Chinese Literature and Language for Me?

Overview of the Field

A large geographical area that serves as home to at least 55 different ethnic groups, China has a rich cultural and literary heritage, as well a multitude of ancient traditions. Chinese literature and language programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and may be campus-based or available online.

As a student of Chinese language and literature, you'll pursue topics in film, history and philosophy. You may also take classes in anthropology, linguistics, calligraphy and literary criticism.

Career Options

Fluency in Chinese can lead to career opportunities in business, linguistics, literature, research and academia. You could also work on behalf of American or Chinese companies trying to establish relations in each others' countries or conduct research in Chinese language and literature, such as the interpretation of historic Chinese texts.

Employment and Salary Information for Interpreters and Translators

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), interpretation and translation is a fast-growing field, with the number of openings expected to increase by 46% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. In May 2013, there were approximately 49,060 individuals employed as interpreters and translators in the United States, including those who provided services for schools, hospitals, businesses and courtrooms. As of May 2013, professionals working in interpretation and translation earned median annual salaries of $42,420 (

Employment and Salary Information for Teachers

Formal training in Chinese language and literature can lead to a career as a college professor, as well as an English as a Second Language (ESL) or English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher. According to the BLS, there were about 30,590 foreign language and literature teachers employed at the college level in May 2013, who earned median annual salaries of $58,620. At that same time, adult literacy teachers, including ESL teachers, held over 69,000 jobs and earned median salaries of $51,110 a year. Between 2012 and 2022, employment of postsecondary teachers was projected to grow by 19%, with a 9% increase in jobs expected for adult literacy teachers (

How Can I Work in Chinese Language and Literature?

Undergraduate Programs

An on-campus or online degree program in Chinese may include the study of classical, medieval and modern Chinese texts and poetry, calligraphy, culture and history. You'll also explore beginning, intermediate and advanced courses in Chinese language, including topics in grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, as well as reading and writing. In some cases, you'll have the opportunity to study abroad in China, which can further your linguistic abilities. With a bachelor's degree in Chinese language and literature, you might be qualified for a position in interpretation and translation, editing or teaching.

Graduate Programs

In a master's or doctoral program in Chinese language and literature, you might study dynastic literary works or contemporary Chinese fiction, poetry and linguistics. Some classes may focus on Chinese culture and include studies in Buddhism and other religious beliefs, art and theater. Completion of a master's degree program may lead to a career as an ESOL teacher or a professor at a community college. As a graduate of a doctoral program, you may find a university research or teaching position in the United States, an English-speaking country or in China.

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