Top 5 Professions Utilizing Spanish
Spanish is an important part of our culture. Why? Because 41 million people speak Spanish in the United States (which makes the U.S. the 2nd largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico), AND most of us hear Spanish every day in our communities, whether it is channel surfing and seeing Univision, calling a doctor or dentist office and hearing the option to ‘presione dos para comunicarse con una persona en español,’ or overhearing a conversation at the grocery store.
The United States is uniquely positioned geographically next to dozens of countries que hablan español, y por eso there are many jobs where speaking Spanish is an asset and can earn you more money.
¡Vamos a empezar!
1. Medical Professional
The job categories within the medical field can range from nurse to doctor, and all associated support jobs. This profession is rewarding, and being bilingual will enable you to obtain pertinent, real-time information (sin un traductor) in an emergency situation. Having the ability to understand the scene can help you save lives since many medical emergencies require an immediate response.
In the medical field, it is not only about treating illness and administering medicine. A huge part of the job is showing empathy for your patients and making them feel comfortable and safe. The first step in doing this is speaking your patient’s language. For example, some Asian cultures prefer hot water with meals and medication, or tea throughout the day. In order to provide comfort to your patient, it is important to understand culturally-appropriate care and be culturally competent.
It is generally more cost-effective for a hospital/clinic to have bilingual staff than to pay for a third-party interpreter. Bilingual staff will also allow your hospital/clinic to serve more of the population.
Be sure to negotiate a higher pay since the cost savings and patient benefits of having a bilingual staff are very real.
One study revealed that 74% of US hospitals serve patients who speak English as a foreign language. Of those hospitals, 15% offer financial incentives to doctors and staff for knowing a foreign language and, of these, three-quarters offer base salary increases ranging from $20 extra per hour, or bonuses up to $500.
The difference between these two professions is that an interpreter translates verbally and a translator interprets written text. As a translator or interpreter, you can work for the court system, doctor offices, immigration facilities, universities or law firms, just to name a few. Depending on where you work, a certification may be required.
An interpreter speaks real-time and is required to have a word in the other language in a split-second. A typical day for an interpreter would consist of providing literal and general translation of English and Spanish so that both parties can understand each other. This is a critical job since you are talking about very important subjects, such as health concerns, environmental impacts, wellness recommendations and legal implications that affect and impact an individual’s freedom. You will work in many capacities, such as speaking in a courtroom or into the Prime Minister’s earpiece at a United Nations meeting.
Translators are researchers who look at legal documents, books, tax statements and affidavits to change them from one language to another. They have the challenge of searching for expressions and uncovering idioms typical for the language they are translating into. As a translator, it can be difficult to translate the author’s intent or the meaning of the original message. This job requires significant concentration and the ability to think abstractly.
A general search on Indeed.com found a full-time Bilingual Court Interpreter in California which pays an hourly rate of $36.74-$44.66 (~$75,900 – $92,900 annually).
The median salary at the United Nations is $46,000, with the top 10% earning more than $83,000. There are so many variables and if you have significant education and are highly skilled, the pay will be higher.
These professions are expected to grow 17% over the next 10 years – much faster than many other occupations. This is partially due to the increasing population of Spanish-speakers in the United States.
3. Human Resources (HR) Specialist
To be a global player, each business needs a unique perspective to stay competitive. HR specialists help acquire talent and comprise teams of diverse backgrounds.
HR specialists have a direct say in screening and recruiting applicants, interviewing candidates, as well as hiring and promoting individuals. Therefore, a bilingual employee could promote attributes that help to make an inclusive work environment. As an HR specialist, you would become successful by seeking out those who have skills that would enhance your workplace; some examples would include adaptability, flexibility, willingness to be open-minded, and unique problem-solving skills.
In May 2018, HR Specialists made a median salary of $60,990, and the top 25% make $80k-$100k. Specializing in HR subcategories will help you stand out amongst your colleagues and could help you make an additional salary.
Speaking Spanish is a specialty that will help attract additional talent to your company!
4. Sales Professional
Remember the sales team that sold the Chevy ‘Nova’ car to Latin America? (‘Nova’ in Spanish is two separate words, no va, and this literally means “it doesn’t go.” Who wants to buy a car that ‘doesn’t go!’) If they had a Spanish-speaking person on their sales team, certainly this would never have happened. As companies expand globally, bilingual employees are crucial in interpreting language and navigating the culture.
Sales positions can range from a customer service representative (being a bilingual employee who can assist the numerous Spanish-speaking customers every day) to a sales executive (pursuing multi-million business opportunities to help the bottom line). The pay will vary significantly depending on your level of responsibility and whether your company offers a sales bonus. However, one thing remains: being bilingual will help you reach out beyond your community and have the ability to seek interesting and potentially lucrative job opportunities.
The Top 10 sales professional jobs where you can earn six-figure salaries are as follows:
- Real estate agent
- Sales engineer
- Financial services sales agent
- Advertising sales agent
- Insurance sales agent
- Manufacturer’s representative
- Medical device sales representative
- Software sales representative
- Pharmaceutical sales representative
- Consumer packaged goods sales representative
Remember, being bilingual will give you a competitive advantage to reach beyond English-speaking communities!
5. Law Enforcement and Military Jobs
There is an increasing demand for Spanish-speaking law enforcement and military personnel.
In order to assist and serve the population, these professions must be able to communicate effectively. Removing a language barrier is a key first step in ensuring that the issue at hand is clearly understood AND that civilians feel their position is understood. It is imperative that careful and effective use of language is used to help diffuse or entirely prevent potentially violent situations. Speaking Spanish will help you do just this with a large percentage of the US population.
Additional benefits are offered for bilingual employees. For example, an entry-level police officer in California can earn $73k to $93k annually and is offered bilingual pay. Bilingual pay is offered ‘at the rate of $125.00 bi-weekly for Spanish speaking and $62.50 bi-weekly for bilingual services in a designated language other than English or Spanish.’ Evidence that speaking Spanish will earn you more.
Another example is that military personnel are offered ‘Foreign Language Proficiency Pay’ which can range from $100-$1,000 additional pay per month depending on your foreign language proficiency level and the number of languages you speak.
Not only can you earn more, but you can also make deeper connections and bridge language barriers.
It pays to be bilingual!
Keep up your Spanish studies to achieve fluency and reach your goal of landing a bilingual job! Sign up for online classes today and tell your teacher about your next business venture!
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I began studying Spanish at age 11 and have been interested in language and culture ever since! While at university, I studied abroad in Spain and Costa Rica and got a B.A. in Environmental Economics with a minor in Spanish. After spending over a decade in corporate America, I now enjoy the simpler things in life. ¡Pura Vida!
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