Many positions that require proficiency in the Spanish language also require skills in research and communication and an understanding of Hispanic culture and heritage.
Our Spanish graduates seeking a career may find the following sites and resources useful:
- www.latpro.com, a comprehensive job board with excellent advice on career building;
- the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which has extensive job listings, including opportunities for summer internships; and
- Edward Bourgoin’s Foreign Languages and Your Career (Guilford: Audio-Forum, 1993).
The following information is adapted from Bourgoin’s work, as well as data from the United States Government Manual and insights from Spanish faculty members at UL Lafayette.
Business and Commerce
There are many job opportunities for Spanish speakers in business, industry and commerce, where companies are increasingly eager to hire personnel with skills in a second language. When choosing among candidates, most companies will give preference to those with knowledge in a widely used second language. Spanish is by far the leading foreign language in the United States as Hispanics are the fastest growing group in this country.
Spanish graduates can be hired by the United States Federal, State, or local government in diverse positions (ranging from the postal service to the National Park Service to law enforcement) and by international organizations in which the United States participates. The Federal Government hires more Spanish graduates, for national and international positions, than any other public entity.
Spanish graduates can work in this sector not only as regular teaching faculty, but also by doing research in the field of education, or working in administrative and counseling positions in Spanish-speaking communities. Spanish teachers can work in private and public schools, and they can also find teaching positions within the US Government (from the Peace Corps to the Department of Defense).
A degree in Library Science or Library and Information Science (an M.L.S. or M.L.I.S.) is most marketable when combined with another degree or a minor in a second language.
Fluency in Spanish and critical understanding of social issues involving cultural and ethnic differences in this country has become an essential tool for career success in the domain of law. Urban centers are most demanding of this expertise in Hispanic Studies: immigration or minority issues pertaining to U.S. Hispanics form the basis of thousands of legal cases every year. An academic preparation which links a B.A. in Spanish and a further degree in law is very attractive on the job market.
Public opinion and decision making in our communities are largely based on what one reads or hears through the media. The world of news and information to the public is greatly dependent upon the interpretation of information and facts. An accurate interpretation of information pertaining to Latin America, Spain, or the Hispanic United States, cannot be fully accomplished without access to primary source material in Spanish, contextualized by a good knowledge Hispanic cultures. Academic training in Spanish combined with studies in Journalism, Radio, Television, or Cinema, can produce a highly attractive professional profile.
Spain and the Spanish American countries are among the most visited nations by tourists from all around the world. At the same time, the United States is the primary tourist destination in the world, and a very large percentage of our visitors come from either Spain or Latin America. Language and cultural proficiency often make the difference between a dynamic professional with a promising future in travel and tourism, and a limited employee with limited resources.
Health Services & Social Work
Professionals in physical or mental health who are able to communicate in Spanish at critical times where or when an interpreter is not available, can make a difference that saves lives. Hospitals and clinics in all of the United States receive numerous patients who speak only Spanish. More and more doctors, nurses, and hospital staff are becoming fluent in Spanish, and understanding one’s patients does not only involve speaking their language but also being familiar with their cultural backgrounds.
Counselors and social workers in all major cities of the United States use Spanish daily. Professional training in health services or social work, combined with academic training in Spanish and Hispanic cultures, is a very attractive profile for those who seek positions in government or private offices, or in hospitals and clinics. Social workers and health professionals with academic training in Hispanic Studies may consider pursuing a career within the US Government for the Office of Special Counsel, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Nuclear Defense Facilities Safety Board, or the Environmental Protection Agency.