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The US is a melting pot of culture and language.

Having any language skills beyond English, is and continues to be incredibly valuable, but which is most worth mastering? Which is most marketable and hopefully profitable?

Options to Consider

Although the United States does not have an official language, English is unsurprisingly the most spoken dominant language spoken by far. There are more than six times the amount of people that speak English than the second most spoken language, Spanish.

A surprising addition to the list, however, is Tagalog, the language spoken in the Philippines. Tagalog has over a million people that speak it in the US, nearly twice as many as those who speak Russian.

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the US as well as the most in-demand in the job market, most likely due to the number of immigrants from countries to the south.

Spanish speaking healthcare professionals and nurses dominate the available jobs for Spanish-speakers but there are plenty of other industries that would like their employees to speak the language. Teaching and IT jobs also have many openings that require or prefer employees that speak Spanish.

Chinese languages, such as Mandarin, also have the same spot on both the most spoken and the most in-demand language lists, number two. China has loads of business ties with the US and its economy is growing faster than any other country.

Learning the language now could increase your employment opportunities greatly! The dominant industries for Chinese-speakers are teaching and healthcare.

According to a World Atlas study, after English, these are the top 10 most spoken languages in the US:

  • Spanish
  • Chinese Languages
  • French and French Creole
  • Tagalog
  • Vietnamese
  • Korean
  • German
  • Arabic
  • Russian
  • Italian

Vacancies Matter

Notably, Italian dropped five places on the list of most in-demand languages from last year. It went from fifth most in-demand to the only tenth. While Italian saw a major decline, for a few languages, there has been a huge spike in demand.

Polish, Japanese, and Portuguese all were not even in the top ten last year and now hold the third, sixth, and seventh spots, respectively.  

The demand for different languages changes frequently because of the world economy as well as the relations certain countries have with the US. There are also spikes in specific language jobs when there is an increase in the number of immigrants from different areas of the world.

Keep these things in mind when you are deciding what language to learn. Picking a language from a country you never intend on going to maybe a waste of your time and energy.

Consider learning a language that lands high on the most in-demand languages. These are the ones that employers are looking for right now and could help you get a competitive edge in the job market.

Knowing another valuable language is a skill that many Americans do not have, and learning one will open up new opportunities to advance your career and expand your job prospects.

Based on live job advert data from Adzuna, these are the top 10 most in-demand languages:

  • Spanish
  • Chinese Languages
  • Polish
  • French and French Creole
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Arabic
  • Italian

Most In-Demand Languages

Money Talks

The most in-demand languages may give you the greatest chance of landing a job, but what about a job that pays well?

Data shows that German is the highest paying non-English language in the US, followed by Japanese, French and french creole, Portuguese, and Arabic. These results are from jobs that operate solely in that language or require it as a second language to English.

German had an average salary increase of 12% from last year, bumping it to the top spot on this year’s list. Korean, last year’s top spot, saw a huge decrease in pay and job vacancies, not making it in either of the top ten lists.

Although last year Asian languages dominated the valuable languages, this year it is a mix of European and Asian. Portuguese had the largest increase in salary and job vacancies.

Which Languages Are the Highest Paying?

  • German – avg. $109k
  • Japanese – avg. $95k
  • French and French Creole – avg. $92k
  • Portuguese – avg. $89k
  • Arabic – avg. $85k

Highest Paid Languages for Advertised Jobs

Bear in mind, ability to speak these doesn’t guarantee you that payday. Let’s hope your other skills match up too.

Choose Wisely

The most in-demand industry for German speakers in IT. This plays a role in how lucrative learning German is.

For Japanese, French and French Creole, and Chinese, the highest number of job openings is in teaching.

Portuguese had the most business-centered jobs available, the highest amount coming from sales, followed by customer service and social work.

The highest paying languages may not be the best languages to learn, however, because the demand for employees that speak them is not as high.

When choosing a new language or skill to learn, consider how it could help in your career realistically. Are you looking to move to a new country that speaks another language? Would you like to work at an international company?

Be mindful of how learning a new language could help you in your career and talk to people who have done it before.

Learning a new valuable language is not just a skill that can help your job prospects, it is a life tool that will broaden your mind and allow you to connect with more people around the world.

Studies have shown that learning a new language improves people’s mental capabilities and the ability to learn new information. Studying a new language is very difficult as an adult, yet it can be worthwhile and fun! Learning a new way to communicate with people is exciting and will be something you can be proud of for the rest of your life!

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