By Kait Spong
Learning a second language has been embedded in many of our curriculums as far back as high school. Whether you chose to focus your efforts on Spanish, French, Arabic, or Mandarin, you might have not fully understood the usefulness of learning such a skill at the time. Now, as you’re quickly approaching adulthood, you’re probably more likely to agree that learning a second language can become an indispensable tool for your future career opportunities and subsequent financial success.
Now, for some good news. No matter how much you may have goofed off during high school German class, there is still time to take advantage of adding a second language to your knowledge base. Your current program might even require that you complete language credits, in order to earn your degree. Though you may not have much of a say in the matter, your friends at uCribs are here to tell you that enrolling in language courses – and earnestly trying to learn the language at-hand – is a great way to invest in your future self.
Knowing a second language can really impact which jobs are open to you, the salary you earn, and even the benefits you qualify for – hey, if someone has to do business while traveling the world, it might as well be you! Here are some of the ways that becoming bilingual, or even multilingual, can positively affect your career outlook and benefit your future self in general:
You become a more desirable employee.
Did you know that being familiar with one or more languages can open up many doors for you in today’s business landscape? With the Internet dictating just about everything we do in work and play, saying that today’s workforce is more globalized than ever is an understatement. Despite many employees currently traveling less due to the novel coronavirus, we are still interconnected through online platforms, like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts. For this reason, businesses are constantly trying to expand to new locations and reach new markets.
With this expansion comes the need for employees with a wide skillset – those who can talk to clients, negotiate contracts, or translate documents in a language other than their native tongue. These types of employees offer a more diverse skill set than most candidates can bring to the table, meaning that their talents will ultimately become more desirable to companies looking to broaden their client base. After all, many corporations are no longer trapped within the borders of one country, and even smaller companies often do business with people of varying backgrounds. Take it from us: bilingual workers experience more success in climbing the corporate ladder.
You’ll also be able to earn a higher salary.
Besides making yourself a more desirable employee, learning a second language can also significantly improve your annual salary. Those entering the workforce with fluency in a second language under their belt can expect to earn 10 to 15 percent more salary-wise than those who only speak one language. This is especially true for those in the fields of sales, marketing, or technical support. Meaning, a recent university graduate, who knows a secondary language, will probably earn a starting salary of 45,000 dollars, as opposed to the average 30,000 dollars. Eyeing a spot in the U.S. military after graduation? You could take home an extra 1,000 dollars per month if you speak two languages instead of one.
Whether you assume a position in the public or private sector, there’s no denying that this additional pay will give you a little extra financial padding in the here and now, while also helping you reach your long-term financial goals ten-fold. These extra earnings alone could translate to an additional 67,000 dollars in your retirement account by the time you hang your hat! Not all languages are on an equal playing field, however. According to The Economist, German is the best language to learn if you want to boost your salary and bonuses, followed by French, Spanish, Mandarin, and Arabic – so, choose wisely!
You strengthen your brain health in the long-run.
Sure, the career perks are great and all – but, how can learning a second language improve your overall health? We’re glad you asked! Bilinguals have more gray matter in the portion of the brain that is associated with vocabulary acquisition. Why? Well, when an individual is learning a second language, the vocabulary acquisition portion of the brain is literally getting a workout. Much like any other muscle you may strengthen in the gym, the brain will become stronger the more you exercise it, and similar to having increased muscle, enlarged gray matter will help the brain work faster and more efficiently.
Learning a language is often described as a rewiring of the brain – a process that can form new neurons and connections among the intellectual networks in one of your body’s most complex organs. Therefore, adding another language to your skill set is not only beneficial to your future employment opportunities, but it’s also a smart move toward elongated cognitive health. After all, who doesn’t want a toned and mentally agile brain – one that can stay focused in class, helping you to remember crucial facts and figures on your mid-terms? Now, imagine that mental agility sharpness into your golden years!
Learning another language has many benefits that extend beyond the ability to exchange quippy phrases with your peers. Becoming bilingual can really benefit your career options, whether it opens pathways to new opportunities or gives you a solid leg up in the highly competitive job market. Even if you haven’t studied a language since high school, you still have plenty of time to take advantage of it while you’re still in college. When you’re figuring out your Fall schedule, consider squeezing a language class in your course load. Trust us – it will be worth it in more ways than one!