Learning another language, particularly later in life, is a highly daunting prospect. This is especially the case if you’re already fluent in English, which is the world’s common language. But taking the time and effort to do so is more than just enhancing brain power: you could be furthering your job prospects, too.
Greater Earning Potential
You’ve already got the door open if you can speak English fluently, but how about actually stepping inside? A study performed by RosettaStone found that if you can speak another language in addition to English, you probably belong in the pool of people making an average of $10,000 more per household.
But if that’s not a big enough figure for you, how does $100,000 sound? That’s the baseline earnings for 17 percent of Americans if they’re at least bilingual.
Key Areas to Target
Spanish is the obvious choice here, as the American Hispanic population more than quadrupled from 2000 to 2010 (43 percent, or 15 million). Because they make up about 15 percent of the population, knowing Spanish is one of the safest ways to go. Hispanic business makes up about $1 trillion each year.
Why stop there, though? If you applied yourself and learned, say, Chinese, French and Russian, you’d be opening up even more doors than before. Some of the most commonly used language families in the world (in terms of business) include Indo-European, Afro-Asiatic, Korean, and Japanese.
Access to More Clients
Stick with knowing just English, and you’ve already got a wide pool of clients to choose from, many of whom have learned English precisely because it’s the language of business.
With America’s large influx of immigrants and the internet constantly shrinking borders, just knowing English isn’t enough to get by on anymore. What if you were faced with a business deal that hinged on you knowing a foreign language and its customs? Would you lose it because you didn’t know to cover your mouth when smiling in Japan? Or would you add a multimillion dollar project to your portfolio because you know what Iranian t’aarof consists of?
Something goes wrong with an order at work, and who do they call? That’s right, you, because you have the language skills for quickly and efficiently sorting out scrapes. And the more you show you can do, the better your chances of being promoted.
We’re not just talking about knowing multiple speaking languages, too. Let’s say you’re a superstar and can speak a handful of languages and you know some coding/programming as well. Being able to work in different departments and understand their nuances is a key characteristic of high level management—which also means a lot more money at the end of the day.
Knowing more languages than just English isn’t always a job requirement, but it does help you stand apart from your competitors. And though it is a tough task that requires countless hours of practice and dedication, the rewards you can reap are more than worth it. If you’re ever in doubt, just ask someone who’s making six figures how many languages they know.