Speaking Spanish may be a job requirement for some workplaces, and it sure won’t hurt you in your job search. With nearly 12 percent of Americans speaking Spanish in 2013, according to the Huffington Post, you will undoubtedly run across a customer or coworker with whom you’re going to need the second language. At the same time, if you only speak Spanish, your job options may be limited. But there are plenty of options for work while you learn English.
With millions of Americans seeking education, medical care, jobs, legal services and social guidance, there is a need for Spanish-speaking translators in most every industry. Translators, also referred to as interpreters, can expect to see job growth as high as 42 percent through 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To work for an agency, you usually need a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but you can start your business if you are fluent in both English and Spanish. In 2010, translators earned a median annual pay of about $43,300.
Go for an executive position if you have the background and education in telecommunications or entertainment. Cable and satellite programming companies, computer application creators and Hispanic and Latino business associations are growing and require you to speak Spanish to take the helm of a division reaching out to the Hispanic population. (ref 2) Top executives and directors usually bring years of experience in an industry to their posts and an MBA can put you ahead of other candidates for an executive gig. Growth at the top may be slow, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2010, the median pay for top execs was $101,250.
Many school districts support a growing Hispanic population where many of the elementary aged children speak Spanish in the home. As a result, students often fall behind in their studies. School systems such as those in Texas increasingly require teachers to speak fluent Spanish to reach the entire student body. In Fort Worth, for example, 60 percent of the school district’s students are Hispanic. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license if you’re going to work in public schools. Private schools don’t always require a certificate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2010, elementary school teachers earned a median income of $51,380.
To handle the deluge of Spanish-speaking consumers in America, customer service reps who speak the language are increasingly in demand at call centers. (ref 7) According to Wanted Analytics, a company that tracks hiring trends, the number of jobs for Spanish speaking customer service reps increased four percent from 2012 to 2013. At the same time, the retail industry increased hiring about 30 percent in the same time period. You don’t need more than a high school diploma to work in customer service or retail. In 2010, retail workers earned a median income of $20,990, while customer service reps working mainly in call centers earned closer to $30,460.
- LatPro: Spanish, Bilingual and Hispanic Jobs
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Interpreters and Translators
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Top Executives
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
- Wanted Analytics: Bilingual Spanish Speaking Jobs
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Customer Service Representatives
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Retail Sales Workers
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."