Being Bilingual Pays…..BIG. And keeps you young!
Nowadays, successful, business executives in the U.S. come from all
walks of life and educational backgrounds. You would be hard pressed
to find two that share the same working experience. However, there is
one characteristic that unites them all: They are ALL bilingual, and
in most cases, multilingual.
Being Bilingual is Big Business
According to Laura Morsch at Careerbuilder.com, two-thirds of the
most prosperous and noteworthy business executives in the United
States speak more than one language. Here’s a breakdown:
31% of executives speak two languages
20% speak three languages
9% speak four languages
4% speak more than four languages
In their attempt to increase profits and revenue, employers are
actively seeking out bilingual workers. A recent CareerBuilder.com
keyword search generated results of more than 6,000 job postings
specifically seeking bilingual applicants.
The Latino Purchasing Market
Employees who are proficient in both English and Spanish are in high
demand. According to the U.S. Census Bureau conducted in 2001, Latinos
are the nation’s largest minority group and account for half of the
nation’s population growth. That is a lot of buying power. In fact,
Hispanic buying power reached nearly $700 billion in 2000
(HispanTelligence, Hispanic Business, Inc.). This buying power could
reach $1 trillion in 2015.
The Financial Benefits of Being Bilingual
In order to tap into this purchasing power, employers are willing to
pay big. According to Salary.com, a bilingual employee will earn
between 5 and 20 percent more per hour.
Here are some examples:
According to the state’s Department of Personnel Administration Website, government workers in California who hold bilingual positions earn an extra $.58 more an hour.
In Oregon, employees in bilingual positions who spend 15-20 percent of
their time in use of their bilingual skills earn an extra $30 per pay
Federal government employees are also seeing the benefit of being
bilingual. Under a provision of the 2005 Defense Authorization Act,
bilingual active-duty military personnel receive a monthly proficiency
pay of $1,000 while civilians may earn pay up to 5 percent of their
According to a recent Freakonomics podcast: “Is Learning a Foreign
Language Really Worth It?”, bilingual English-speaking Americans
should expect to earn on average $600 more than employes who speak
only one language. While it may not seem like much, The Economist
Magazine suggests that even small language bonuses will eventually add
up over time.
“Supposing you only earn a 2 percent language
bonus on your salary, you easily stand to earn
an additional $25,000 during your career (likely
more with salary increases).”
-The Economist Magazine
The bottom line: Being bilingual quite literally pays.
A Healthier Life
While knowing another language can open doors and pad your wallet,
its by far not the only benefit it provides. It can also provide you
with a healthy brain and a long life, giving you plenty of time to
enjoy your increased wealth.
Protects against Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Recent research has indicated that adults who speak two or more
languages experience the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia at a later
age than adults who only speak one language. Astonishingly, this
advantage extends to adults who only knew how to speak (not read or
write) another language.
(“Why Bilinguals Are Smarter, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, NYTIMES.com. 2012).
Improves your memory and attention span
Finally, knowing another language has an amazing effect on one’s
attention span and memory. According to a study conducted by
Northwestern University in 2012, “knowing multiple languages forces
your brain to pay attention to relevant sounds, while blocking out
This study provided the first scientific evidence that being bilingual
improves your hearing and helps with attention span and working
In summary, language has the power to increase your earning potential
while setting you up for a long and healthy life!