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How are English-Spanish Linguistic Skills Valued in the Job Market?

Though the job market is seeking more Spanish-English bilingual employees, there are far more jobs valuing their skill at less than $35,000 per year than $95,000 per year.

Linguistic professors try to glam-up the idea of a second language as a marketable asset for your future. They say that more companies will want you and, what’s more, they’ll pay you more for this skill. But according to a study done by Nic Subtirelu of Linguistic Pulse, this may not be the case for every language.

For the past few weeks, Subtirelu has been looking into a collection of ads taken from, trying to find trends in the job market — whether or not knowing a second language really is as much of a boon as language teachers make it out to be. Within his sample group, Spanish was the largest language represented (apart from English). But, for the most part, he says:

“On the job market, Spanish is not really treated as a marketable skill. Indeed, it is far more likely to appear as a requirement or a preferred qualification (‘a plus’) in jobs offering wages in the bottom half of all incomes in the United States than for those offering wages in the top 10 percent (according to the U.S. Census).”

Those years of Spanish you suffered through in high school and college may not be worth a whole lot in the end. In his research, he noted there were 10 times more job openings, asking for Spanish-English bilingual skills, with a salary of less than $35,000 per year than ones paying over $95,000 per year. Indeed, the trend seems to be indicating a devaluation of Spanish-language skills among companies, which could put bilingual U.S. Latinos at a disadvantage when seeking work.

As for other languages, Subtirelu said that jobs noting a desire for Spanish-language skills had the most sizable presence with 916 job listings. Whereas the runners-up, French and Japanese, only had 90 and 87 listings — quite a small pool. However, he did note discrepancies:

“What was making the biggest difference between these languages and Spanish was the absence of the low wage positions.”

Read more about Subtirelu’s analysis and the methods he used to conduct his study on Linguistic Pulse.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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