German Literature and Language

If you are seeking an overview of both written and spoken German, a major in German can provide you with a basic knowledge of the language, literature and culture of the country. Read about education and career options here, as well as how much you might earn as an expert in German studies.

Is German Literature and Language for Me?

Overview of the Field

Students interested in German literature and language programs will find that many schools offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in this specialized field of study. Most undergraduate programs are offered through departments devoted to Germanic studies and include instruction in the language, as well as the opportunity to examine traditional or contemporary literary texts.

Career Information for Postsecondary Teachers

One possible career option for those with an educational background in German language is to work as a postsecondary foreign language teacher. This job will require you to create and teach a lesson plan that emphasizes the German language, as well as help students fulfill their learning objectives and evaluate their performance. In addition, you may be required to conduct research in your field of expertise and publish your findings. In order to become a German language professor, you'll most likely need to obtain a graduate degree.

Career Information for Interpreters and Translators

You might also consider working as an interpreter of spoken German or as a translator of written German. In these positions, you might be employed in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, social services or in the legal system. Many freelance interpreters and translators work exclusively on a part-time basis. Although a specific degree program or certification is not always necessary to enter the profession, many translation agencies require three to five years of relevant work experience. The best job prospects may be found in major cities, such as Washington, D.C. or New York City.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postsecondary teachers of foreign language and literature earned a mean annual wage of $66,300 in May 2013. Employment of postsecondary teachers was expected to increase by 19% nationwide between 2012 and 2022.

As of May 2013, interpreters and translators earned a mean annual wage of $47,920. Professionals employed in this area can look forward to a 46% growth in employment opportunities through 2022, which is much faster than the national average of 11%. Translators of commonly spoken European languages, such as German and French, may be in particularly high demand (

How Can I Work in German Literature and Language?

Undergraduate Programs

A Bachelor of Arts in German takes four years of full-time study to complete and includes a semester or two of general education courses in social and natural sciences, English and math. The remainder of the program will be devoted to the speaking, reading and writing of German. You'll also study the history of the German language and German literary works. Topics in German culture and society will also be included. Some undergraduate programs offer a minor in business, which requires additional courses in accounting, economics and management.

Graduate Programs

Graduate programs in German can lead to a Master of Arts or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Graduate students typically choose an area of language or literature on which to base their theses or dissertations, such as Germanic linguistics or language pedagogy, cinema or women's studies. In addition to German, some graduate programs may require fluency in another language, such as French or Latin.

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