Want to make money? Turns out it pays to be bilingual—or at least to learn a second language, according to a recent survey by Preply, an online learning platform that connects students with online tutors from all over the world teaching over 50 languages. The company analyzed more than 1.5 million job ads to reveal which second languages can help a professional earn more money, which ones are getting the biggest salaries in 2022 and which are the most sought after by businesses.
The results are in, and if you want to make the biggest bucks, Preply’s research shows that you need to learn Portuguese and move to New York City, where companies offer by far the highest salaries for Portuguese-speaking roles. The average salary for a Portuguese speaker in NYC is $263,781 per year. In second place, Japanese speakers make an average of $97,452. In third place, German speakers make $89,996.
Learning a language also pays off in other big cities, according to Preply. In Chicago, German-speaking jobs get the best average salary with $144,880. French ranks second with $115,737, and Italian is third at $84,097. German speakers also get the best salary in Boston with an average of $129,300 annually, but in this case Spanish takes the second spot with $98,090, and Mandarin is in the third position with $57,787. In San Francisco, German speakers are paid the best with an average salary of $124,897, followed by Spanish speakers with $60,056.
Preply also looked at salaries across the entire United States and discovered that German is the best paid foreign language with an average salary of $69,898 per year. “German has overtaken French being one of the most popular languages to study, and it’s not surprising that German comes on the top of our lists, not only in America but also in the UK and Europe,” says Daniele Saccardi, campaigns manager for Preply.
In second place is Portuguese ($64,507.46) and in third is Japanese ($58,840.25). Italian, Mandarin, French, Spanish, Bengali, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi round out the top 10 best paid foreign languages in the United States.
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And although they aren’t the best paid roles, Spanish is the most in demand language to recruit in the U.S. From Preply’s research of more than 750,000 bilingual positions available in America, 152,965 were in search of Spanish-speaking employees. “So that means that having Spanish as a second language in America is almost a guarantee that you could get a better job than the average American, and probably even faster,” says Saccardi.
The team at Preply says they weren’t surprised by the results of the study. “The job market is more competitive than ever. This is partly why we see so many professions turning to Preply; to learn or improve a language and get the edge over other applicants,” says Kirill Bigai, cofounder and CEO at Preply.
The company offers 1-on-1 lessons with native speaking tutors from all around the world. You can meet your tutor online from any location and take lessons via video chat. Preply connects over 140,000 tutors teaching 50 languages in 203 countries worldwide. And when it comes to learning another language while working or in school, flexibility is a must. That’s why the learning model is structured so that users can learn remotely at the most convenient time for them.
For many, learning a second language can feel daunting. But finding motivation is the best place to start. A salary bump or having an edge in the competitive job market is certainly an incentive. Once you’ve got the motivation, follow this advice to help develop your foreign language skills:
Immerse Yourself: Dive into the language and culture by watching foreign films and listening to foreign music. As your learning progresses, start reading books in the language and use a dictionary to translate any words you don’t know. Another thing that works? Turn off the subtitles from foreign language movies—it helps your brain to get words quicker.
Focus on Pronunciation: A common blunder is thinking that you don’t need to learn how to pronounce words correctly when you’re just starting out. But your future self will thank you if you concentrate on pronunciation early in your studies. It’s much easier to get it right at the beginning than try to fix it later on. Practice pronunciation by impersonating native speakers.
Practice: Don’t let fear of embarrassment prevent you from speaking in a foreign language from the start. It’s actually easier to learn the language while you’re practicing it. Try to have daily conversations—since short, simple dialogues are crucial to learning the foundations of another language.
Be Consistent: Just like with anything else you want to accomplish, set a goal, create a plan and stick with it. The key to language learning is to stay motivated and keep going, even if it’s difficult at times.
Make it Fun: Another key to accomplishing any goal is to associate it with positive rewards and remember that immersing yourself in a new culture will open doors to new opportunities.