Money Talks: Language Learners Earn More In Their Careers

Do money and language go hand in hand? You might be surprised at the powerful effects bilingualism has on income and employment.

Everyone’s got their own ideas about how to make a little extra dough, but few Americans today realize the economic benefits of speaking two languages. Only around 20% of the population speak a foreign language. That’s a shame. Because that means 80% of the population is missing out on earning extra cash.

Skeptical? Let’s look at the figures. Some number crunchers at The Economist have determined that workers with more than one language can earn an extra $67,000 over their lifetime. And that’s on the low side; according to estimates on the high end, bilinguals can make an extra $128,000 due to their language proficiency. That means monolinguals (that’s people who speak just one language) could be missing out on the equivalent of a new home or luxury car. Ouch.

Let’s check out some more intriguing statistics. According to language expert and CEO Ryan McMunn, learning a second language boosts your salary anywhere from 10-15%. How’s that for a raise?

It gets even better for American immigrants — Aimee Chin, professor of economics at the University of Houston, found that bilingual American immigrants make 67% more than their monolingual counterparts.
America’s governmental organizations also reward bilingualism. Multilingual members of the military pick up an average of an extra $1,000 per month. While the CIA’s official numbers are kept under wraps, they have stated that acquiring multilingual talent is “an imperative at the CIA.”

There’s no reason to believe that these figures are ever going to drop off. In fact, 9 out of 10 European recruiters consider bilingualism critical to hiring new employees. Similarly, a survey of North American job recruiters found 66% agreed that bilingualism will steadily gain importance in the next 10 years.

But how does knowing a second language really help you earn more? In addition to jobs like interpreters and translators (two professions, incidentally, which the Bureau of Labor predicts to grow 28.7% over the next 10 years), there are many ways learning a second language immediately boosts a worker’s chances at earning more.

For job seekers looking to stand out from the crowd, for example, hiring managers notice the increased cultural sensitivity and intelligence that come with being able to speak a foreign language. Similarly, service industry workers see an increased chance at promotion merely by showing that they’re in the process of learning a new language. For the office warriors out there, you already know the earth is flat. Large or small, companies always need employees to travel to and communicate with foreign markets. Just being able to “meet and greet” gives you an immense leg up. For those who run a small business, a second language can prove critical in connecting with your customers and community.

The list of financial benefits to bilingualism is endless. So don’t miss out — do yourself a favor and pick up a new language today.
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