What can I do with a degree in Chinese?

UC exchange student, Sam Brosnahan, in Shanghai, China
© Restricted/Sam Brosnahan

The Chinese programme at UC provides a wide range of courses in both the language and the studies of Chinese literature, thought, tradition, culture and society. The Chinese language courses aim to develop language competence in modern standard Chinese in both its spoken and written forms.

Students also learn about aspects of Chinese history and culture in the course of their study. There are two first-year language courses, one catering for beginners in Chinese and the other for students who have studied Chinese at high school. A first-year course in Chinese civilisation is also offered.

Through their Chinese degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that includes:

  • Reading, writing, listening and speaking Chinese
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Interpretive and analytical thinking
  • A better understanding of the global interactions which shape contemporary society
  • Thinking critically and creatively, and challenging ideas
  • Problem solving skills
  • Research and computing skills

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this major through internships and international study tours. These experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge and employability.

Learning about influential languages and cultures is advantageous for many careers around the world as graduates are increasingly required to be culturally competent, globally aware and ready to work internationally.

Chinese graduates are in high demand by:

  • Local and central government, in such departments as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Professional and research-based organisations
  • Tourism, transport and related industries
  • Educational institutions
  • International traders, import/export businesses
  • Business, finance and law firms.

Lawyers, accountants, engineers, managers, teachers and other professionals with Chinese skills and knowledge can find work in Aotearoa New Zealand, China and other Asian countries.

Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.


  • Translates spoken language from one language to another, often simultaneously
  • Keeps abreast of up-to-date meaning of words
  • Researches specialist topics, travels with groups and presents to different audiences


  • Conveys the content of the source text into the target language
  • Researches terminology or technical words and language trends
  • Often works collaboratively as part of a team of translators

Teacher of English for speakers of other languages (TESOL)

  • Assesses a student's reading, writing, speaking and listening skills and needs
  • Designs and prepares learning materials
  • Presents lessons, including on local knowledge and skills for coping in a new place

Policy analyst / advisor

  • Identifies and investigates issues and opportunities eg, in society, law or governance
  • Interprets and consults on existing policies
  • Prepares reports and recommends changes

Tourism marketing officer

  • Researches consumer market and interests
  • Manages customer networks and relationships
  • Creates and maintains corporate brands and advertising media

Language officer / consultant

  • Outlines the sounds, words, structure, and vocabulary of a language spoken for organisational purposes
  • Leads engagement and information sessions
  • Translates and interprets

Immigration officer / migration consultant

  • Understands immigration instructions
  • Assesses client eligibility for visas
  • Helps navigate migration processes for individuals or organisations
  • Writes submissions and files applications

Research specialist / analyst

  • Organises and conducts research
  • Develops and tests theories, interprets results
  • Writes reports, makes recommendations and publishes research

Secondary school teacher

  • Plans and delivers instructional lessons
  • Evaluates performance and provides feedback
  • Sets and marks assignments and tests

Import / export broker

  • Assists with marketing and sales activities
  • Investigates overseas demand for goods
  • Builds networks and customer relationships

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea, product or service
  • Offers services as a freelancer/consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here.

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Chinese subject page