The Spanish Network: Opportunities For Bilingualists in Today’s Job Market

Unless you are a bear in hibernation or similarly snuggled up in your suburban refuge lost in the pretentions of Downton Abbey, it is next to impossible to escape the omnipresence of the Spanish language in our society today.   Life in America is becoming a sensory experience of the sabor latino, whether shining vividly in fiesta colors of April (all year round) from humble storefront windows advertising ¡Ahorra! ¡ Ahora! (Save! Now!), or blaring from the speakers of El Caminos (would you say los Caminos here?), or much more probable from the lips of the person next in line at the supermarket, avocados y pomedores y carne soon to be asada pouring forth from their cartYet a side of Spanish that doesn’t bear influence on us now, but that we should become cognizant of, is the profusion of the language at the workplace.  So to those of you who slacked off on your high school foreign language requirements listen up (I’m listening)!  Having Spanish under your belt (or on your tongue) is becoming more and more valuable in the workplace nowadays.

 

The homelands of a majority of that 13-14%, which a majority of us cannot truly communicate with.

 

As reported by the Korn/Ferry International Executive Recruiter Index, international business is becoming more active in seeking bilingual employees, as such skills are necessary in today’s market.   In fact, almost 80 percent of recruiters for jobs suggest that Spanish is in greatest demand amongst languages for utilization in occupational contexts.[1]  This number makes sense as currently 64% of business executives speak two or more languages, as companies desire to translate their language skills into economic and social capital to be invested in new parts of the globe.  Additionally, HispanTelligence, a research group focusing primarily on Hispanics in connection to the economy, estimates that the buying power of Hispanics reached $1 trillion by 2010. [2]  Yet one only has to look to our neighbors to the south to notice how great the market is for Spanish.  Talking in pure capitalist interests, your “ability to connect” grows by 13-14%, your consumer base increases by more than 50 million by knowing Spanish.  It doesn’t take an vivid imagination to understand the power of Spanish on a gross level, but what does it do for the individual?

 

 

The commercials may be cheesy, but this one at least is true!

Here’s the math equation, Mastercard commercial style.  A full year of Spanish classes with Homeschool Spanish Academy-$730.[3]  Your weight in Spanish language books-$200.  Trip to Guatemala to immerse in Spanish for 3 months-$2500.  Lifetime fiscal and social benefits of fluently speaking Spanish-priceless.   Studies show that even in the most basic areas of the job market, such as consumer marketing or call centers, your hourly wage can increase fifty cents to a dollar an hour, which over the course of a year that you work 2,000 hours, equivocates from anywhere to $1,000 to $2,000 more a year just because you know this language (multiply this by 50 years and you understand how quickly your investment pays off).   Other companies offer pay differentials, ranging anywhere from 5-20 percent more pay per hour, simply because you are a lover of linguas![4]  Just imagine the feeling, you and your monolingual friend both get accepted to your dream job working for Google and because you are Spanish savvy, you come away with the bigger paycheck!

Now while Google may be a hypothetical in this context, there are sectors of the job market that are waiting in line for bilingual leaders.  There will be an increase of 22 percent in the employment of translators and interpreters in this country between 2008 and 2018 according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.[5]  The penchant for Spanish is not limited to business or translating employers, but also is a valuable asset in Teaching English as a Foreign Language or working in the medical field, especially in the way it opens up opportunities for travel.[6]

Lago Atitlan of Guatemala, it’s the better part of the investment.

 

However, you needn’t jump on the next flight to Costa Rica to fall into the blissful panache of español, just hop on over to visit me in San Antonio or spend a summer in el mercado of Cuban-flaired south Florida, one of three states with over 50% of the population of Hispanic origin.  Even in South Carolina, the Hispanic population has increased 147% in the past decade![7]  Yet any market in any state is attracting Latinos faster than the smell of tacos al carbon rallies the masses from far and wide to its almost always open doors.  There is no denying the power you will wield with Spanish as your weapon, so resist the need to watch another 3 hours of Big Bang Theory, and subscribe to a theory that is proven beyond refute-Spanish x You= Fiesta (I mean Success).

 



[1] http://career-advice.monster.com/in-the-office/workplace-issues/value-of-spanish-in-workplace/article.aspx

 

[4] http://www.thelantern.com/campus/being-bilingual-can-open-more-doors-for-job-seekers-1.2658516#.UUtik46Cx0o

 

[5] http://www.ibtimes.com/foreign-language-skills-provide-sharp-edge-job-market-258085#

 

[6] Just to whet your appetite- http://www.lonelyplanet.com/central-america

[7] www.census.gov

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