Two major factors fuel the increasing demand for bilingual professionals in the U.S. First, Hispanics now represent over twelve percent of the U.S. population; their spending power has more than doubled in less than 20 years. Since customers often prefer to do business with someone who speaks their language, companies need bilingual employees to communicate with their Spanish-speaking customers.
The second factor is the expansion of U.S. companies into other countries. Companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index earned 36% of their total revenues in foreign markets in November 2007. While the recent economic downturn has slowed foreign revenues, overseas business is still a major force in the U.S. economy. In the international marketplace, bilingual executives help their companies acquire and develop new markets and build a global presence. Their language fluency and cultural sensitivity contribute to bridging the differences between the countries.
Which industries are seeking bilingual employees?
Financial institutions are among the largest employers seeking bilingual professionals. The insurance, consumer products, and healthcare industries also employ large numbers of bilinguals, as does the U.S. government, particularly the Department of State, Census Bureau, and Social Security Administration. Non-profit organizations that serve non-English speaking people in the U.S. or work in foreign countries also need workers who speak more than one language.
What type of positions can you expect to find on the market?
Jobs for bilingual professionals span all industries and levels. While positions in sales/marketing and in operations dominate, recent job openings include a wide variety of jobs, including:
• General Store Manager
• Insurance Claims Adjustor
• HIV Testing and Outreach Coordinator
• Family Therapist
• Legal Assistant
• Customer Service Representative
• Mortgage Call Center Representative
• Healthcare Professional
• Retail Sales Associate
• Medical Office Assistant
• Health Educator
• Counselor for Internationally Adopted Children
Some positions address language and diversity directly, such as diversity trainers, translators, and diplomats. In elementary and secondary education, prospects for teachers in bilingual education are particularly good as the number of non-English-speaking students increases.
It certainly is a plus to know more than 2 languages and there are some companies who will pay a premium or provide extra pay for being bilingual. A variety of employment resources are available who eagerly assist bilingual professionals and connect them with companies who seek bilinguals. Many small businesses, as well as Fortune 500 companies, are looking for qualified bilingual professionals. Job fairs and numerous career websites specialize in the employment of bilinguals who speak English and other languages. They may specialize in Hispanic or Asian languages or act as a central clearinghouse for hiring speakers of any language.
Companies that succeed in integrating a diverse, multilingual global workforce stand by their commitment to treating everyone with dignity and respect. They hold diversity training and foster communications about cultural awareness and differences. Once word gets out that a company places a high value on diversity, the company will automatically attract a multi-lingual workforce.
Bilingual professionals are in high demand at all levels in most industries. In the increasingly global economy, organizations need people who speak more than one language to bridge language and communications differences.