Do you already speak two languages? Or are you in the process of learning a new language like Spanish, French or possibly even Russian? If you are, then you are setting yourself up for success in the career world. Bilinguals are an asset to almost every large company. Whether it be a flight attendant, global sales associate in another country, customer service representative, or an interpreter at a hospital, bilinguals are highly regarded and needed.
In 2010, there were approximately 240,000 job postings for bilingual jobs. Just 5 years later, there were 630,000. The growth will not stop there in these fields and we’ve compiled a list of those jobs to dive into today.
Translators and Interpreters
First, let’s understand the value of activities when learning a second language, and in that way we can gauge which activities we need to focus on. For example, talking with a native speaker for 1 hour would be worth 1 point. That’s because talking with someone in the target language is the best way to get fluent. 1 hour is fully worth the entire hour.
Now, listening to the radio or watching TV would be secondary activities, because you, the learner, are not actually producing any language, and so the synapses in your brain are not firing, and trying, and struggling to make connections. You’re just taking in information and categorizing it, but you’re not producing anything (which is the best way to get fluent). But this is still a good activity, but it’s only worth half a point for every minute. So 1 hour of TV or radio would be counted as only .5 points.
Then, we come to language learning apps and reading, which are even less valuable as language-learning activities, but still better than not doing anything at all. These activities are worth just a quarter of the time that you do them. So 1 hour of working on an app or reading a book would only be worth .25 points.
This is a helpful way to keep track of getting to your goal. This is why I take 4 hours of Japanese lessons every week with a live instructor online. I know that this is worth the most points. Then I watch 1 hour of TV in Japanese each week, making my total for the week about 4.5 points (or 4.5 hours of activity). Since I know it will take 1200 hours to have a basic fluent level (and I have already done 600 hours), I know that I still have 3 years to go if I stay at this pace.
Now that we know the value of each activity, we can get back to our topic of how to fit language learning into our daily routine, and now we can understand why some activities are weighted differently.
For the last 7 years we’ve been teaching English and Spanish lessons at a company called Ferrovial. They design and build airports, tunnels, bridges and highways all over the world. Since it is an infrastructure company, they have a lot of civil engineers working there, and those civil engineers are working with local supervisors, project managers, foremen and the general labor force. What we’re seeing in most countries is that immigrants make up a large percentage of the construction labor force, and therefore, it’s important for supervisors, foremen and even the engineers to also speak the language of the labor force. Ferrovial, a company from Spain, has projects throughout the USA, from Denver to D.C. They have had great success in communication since the labor force often speaks Spanish and the company Ferrovial is from Spain. This makes it so much easier to communicate, as much of the labor force has immigrated from Mexico, Central and South America.
It is now incredibly useful for many engineers to be bilingual. The salary range for a bilingual engineer is $49,000 to over $100,000.
Construction companies are hiring bilingual employees for a slew of jobs: supervisors, foremen, engineers and labor. Not only construction, but any job involving manual labor, like lawn companies. The supervisor and foreman often only speak English, and it is highly important to communicate with the 95% of the workforce that is doing the work. Miscommunications can lead to a loss in productivity, engagement, collaboration, and in labor jobs, it can be extremely dangerous as well.
Human Resource Jobs
There is a real pain point in regards to human resources. If the human resources employee does not speak Spanish, they have to continuously call in another employee to interpret. We get many calls from human resources personnel, asking how quickly they can learn Spanish. Unfortunately, we have to let them know that it will take at least 600 hours to work efficiently in the language. This is why we advise them to start Spanish classes in order to close the communication gap, and also discuss hiring a junior HR employee that is bilingual. This will also allow the more senior employee to learn Spanish more quickly, as he or she can sit in on meetings in Spanish to get more immersed. This will allow the company to grow into a completely bilingual company more quickly.
Bilingual Customer Service Jobs
We’re sure it won’t come as a surprise to learn that customer service call center have a huge need for bilingual workers. Every time you call your phone company, water company, or electric company, you hear the robot voice asking you if you would prefer to speak to someone in Spanish or English. That means there are enough people calling in that need to speak to someone in another language other than English. For bilinguals, that means a whole host of opportunities for more jobs.
Bilingual Nurses and Hospital Staff
Seeing as 42% of the population in Dallas is Hispanic, it is easy to see why we would need Spanish-speaking employees in hospitals. And Dallas isn’t the only city with bilingual employee needs. The cities with a Hispanic population larger than Dallas are New York (2.7 million), Los Angeles (1.8 million), Houston (900,000), San Antonio (800,000), Chicago (775,000), and Phoenix (640,000).
We get the most calls from hospitals, asking for interpreters. The reason for this is because there are not enough nurses and doctors that speak a second language on staff. CCHI is a company that certifies employees to be a bilingual employee at hospital facilities. This could be in Swahili, Punjabi, French or Mandarin. They even distinguish, and encourage employers to distinguish, between bilingual staff that will be doing their job only (nurse, lab tech, pharmacist) and bilingual staff that have 2 roles, one of them being primarily to interpret when needed. What is not productive is pulling a nurse away from his or her job to interpret for another nurse or doctor. So make sure to hire with this in mind, and make sure to understand what job you’re applying for if you are on the job hunt.
In Texas, there is a large deficit of bilingual teachers. That means that if you are bilingual, there is likely a job waiting for you here. We’re seeing the same deficit all across The United States. And that’s an issue when, on average, 10% of school-aged children do not yet speak English well. Yet in some states this number is even higher. In California, for example, 38% of incoming students come in as English learners.
California admits that they “do not have enough qualified, bilingual teachers to serve the students.” Actually, 31 states, plus the District of Columbia say that they do not have enough bilingual teachers to meet their needs.
If you’re thinking that Spanish-speaking teachers are the only ones needed, think again. 92% of ELLs (English Language Learners) speak one of these languages in the home: Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Vietnamese. Surprised? So were we!
All major airlines are currently hiring for bilingual flight attendants. From what we can see, Delta, American Airlines and United, all have job ads up, offering up to $45K a year. Last year, we saw United hiring for bilingual attendants that spoke the following languages: Cantonese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, or Portuguese, in addition to English. Finally, some of the lesser-spoken languages are getting some bilingual job attention. Awesome! At United you could start at $27.22 per hour, with the ability to move up to $67.11 per hour. Yowzah! That’s pretty darn good! Not only that, but you’ll also get a 401K and family and friends deals for traveling perks.
Last year we also saw Delta hiring those who speak Dutch, Czech, Danish, German, Greek, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Hebrew, or French in addition to English. You will need to be at least 21 years old, be able to travel and work in The United States, and have a minimum of a high school diploma, GED, or an equivalent. Oddly (bet you didn’t know this one…) you’ll need to be at least 5’5” and no taller than 6’3” (planes are not big!) and have 2 years experience in the service industry.
If you’re not yet bilingual and would be interested in getting started, or would like to set up lessons for your employees, go to www.fluencycorp.com. We specialize in customized fluency classes, any language is possible. We also consult for multilingual and multicultural organizations so that everyone can communicate better, be more productive and collaborate efficiently, all while being engaged by coworkers and management.