Bilingualism creates many opportunities for career expansion as well job flexibility and diversity. Some bilingual employees use their skills as a career focus such as teaching a second language or as an interpreter. However, bilingualism is useful in any job and creates many job incentives. Fluency in more than one language can increase an employee's value, create potential for a higher salary and provide opportunities for travel.
Types of Bilingual Jobs
Bilingual jobs take many forms. According to a 2008 international Korn/Ferry poll, 64 percent of business executives speak two or more languages. Companies are often attempting business expansion overseas as well as looking for ways to expand their market to a larger base share at home. Bilingual employees can be employed not only as language teachers, translators and interpreters but also any business or government job will seek bilingual employees in an increasingly global economy.
According to data collected by Salary.com, bilingual workers earn between 5 and 20 percent more per hour than the entry-level pay for those positions. According to California's Department of Personnel Administration, bilingual positions earn an additional $0.58 per hour on average. According to the National Association for Bilingual Education, employees may potentially earn an additional $1,000 per month in proficiency pay if they are bilingual active-duty military personnel.
In addition to competitive salaries for bilingual jobs other benefits can include expanded travel and cultural opportunities. Often translators and language teachers spend extended periods of time in other countries working with local citizens. Many universities provide room and board in addition to a teaching stipend for teaching English classes to young students and adults. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in 2008, 22 percent of teachers and interpreters are self employed and contract their work to coincide with their schedule.
Increasing Demand for Bilingual Employment
The demand for bilingual employees is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade. According to the 2001 U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos are the largest minority group in the U.S., placing Spanish and English bilinguals in particular demand. This is particularly true for business executives; HispanTelligence predicts Hispanic buying power is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2010.
Education and certification qualifications depend largely upon the nature of the bilingual job. Business executives usually hold a bachelor's or master's degree in their chosen field. Often, companies require an oral and written competency exam in the second language before hiring. Teaching English as a second language usually requires a certificate such as TEFL or TESOL in addition to a bachelor's or master's in English or the secondary language.
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