Speaking Spanish is a marketable skill
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 10, 2005
Claire Bush

Hispanics will make up 51 percent of Arizona's population by 2025, according to demographic research by Arizona State University.

The influx of Spanish-speaking residents, coupled with a growing global economy, means that demand for bilingual employees has never been higher, career advisers say. According to Anna Lopez, Phoenix College's custom training and education department director, Arizona employers who require Spanish-speaking workers are definitely on the rise, especially in health care and law.

Ronni Anderson of Staff One Search, an administrative and management placement firm in Phoenix, fills job orders from employers who are willing to pay a higher hourly wage for bilingual employees.

"Across the board, we're seeing an increased demand for Spanish speakers," Anderson said, adding that construction companies are now requesting more bilingual employees. "Many workers in the construction industry are Hispanic, and if we can find a project manager or office administrator who speaks Spanish, they can keep the lines of communication open."

In a construction office or on a job site, an employee who speaks Spanish can act as interpreter between management and labor, she said.

"Eliminating the language barrier solves problems before they begin," she said.

"We've just joined the (Arizona) Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in order to tap into the Spanish-speaking market for our employees who are bilingual."

Sheila Lehker of Right Management Consultants, an organizational consulting firm, said senior-level executives who are seeking jobs might do well to learn basic Spanish.

"It will definitely give them an edge," Lehker said. "Employers who are looking at two candidates who have equal skill sets and backgrounds will choose the one who is bilingual."

Even a minimal knowledge of a second language can be helpful, whether an employee is seeking to change jobs or maximize his or her present position, Lehker added.

Besides being more employable, bilingual employees command higher salaries as well. According to EmploymentReview.com, Spanish-speaking employees earned $7,000 more per year than co-workers who spoke only English.