Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States, and No. 2 in the world, and the ability to speak both English and Spanish sets you up for a variety of lucrative career opportunities. Even in positions that are not specific to the linguistics industry, the ability to speak Spanish makes your resume more attractive to employers and increases your earning potential.
Interpreter or Translator
Spanish language interpreters and translators are in great demand. Interpreters deal with the spoken language; translators work with written material. Courts at all levels use interpreters to communicate with participants and witnesses. Agencies that perform administrative hearings also use interpreters to ensure the fairness of proceedings. Motor vehicles departments and the Social Security Administration are just two of the many agencies that use interpreters to communicate with clients. Many translation services offer on-demand services by telephone. You can work for these companies as an employee or as a freelance contractor. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median annual income for interpreters and translators in 2016 as $46,120 and says demand for these workers is expected to rise 29 percent from 2014 to 2024. The BLS says translators and interpreters working in professional, scientific and technical services had a median income of just over $52,000, and those in government were a little under $51,000. The top 10 percent in the field made a minimum of $83,010.
A master's degree in Spanish is the usual minimum requirement to teach Spanish to college-level students. As a college instructor, you will teach students with little to no experience with the Spanish language and some with a background in it. Instructors create lesson plans and develop appropriate course materials. College teachers also monitor students' progress and provide support. According to Higher Ed Jobs' salary survey for 2015-16, a tenure-track foreign language professor started with an average salary of $59,402. Tenured associate professors made an average of $71,466, and full professors made an average of $94,698. Professors with doctorates made higher salaries than those with master's degrees, and those at research institutions made more money than those at purely teaching institutions.
International Program Director
With the expanding globalization of our economy, private and government organizations need assistance in establishing their businesses in foreign countries. Meanwhile, domestic companies need to be able to communicate with Spanish-speaking employees and stakeholders as they expand their work into other countries. In these positions, you will use program management skills to carry out your employer's expansion plans. Pay varies according to the organization, but according to employment intelligence website Glassdoor, salaries above $100,000 are common.
Government agencies and contractors for the federal government hire and contract Spanish linguists to assist with translation projects. Many organizations work with the nation's security agencies in information-gathering roles. When communications are gathered in Spanish, linguists are needed to monitor, translate and transcribe the information for use in court proceedings. Spanish linguists are also hired to ensure that transcribed documents are accurate based on the information gathered. You may be required to obtain a security clearance for these positions, as you may be working with highly classified and sensitive information. According to FederalPay.org, which analyzes government salaries, linguists, or language specialists, have a federal pay grade ranging from GS-4 to GS-15. That covers a wide range of salaries: As of 2017, base salaries for GS-4 workers started at $25,514, and those of GS-15 workers topped out at $134,776. FederalPay.org says the average salary for a federal government linguist in 2015 was about $84,700.