What Can You Do With a Spanish Degree?

by Melissa Sartore

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A Spanish degree prepares students for Spanish fluency and heightened multicultural awareness — invaluable skills in the U.S. and international job markets.

Spanish students gain expertise in Spanish linguistics and culture. Learners build knowledge and skills applicable to careers in tourism, education, business, and sales. Along with positions that require that travel to Spanish-speaking areas of the world, Spanish students thrive in roles like translators and teachers.

Jobs for Spanish majors are in abundance, thanks to the high demand for bilingual employees across economic sectors. According to a 2017 New American Economy report, Spanish-language proficiency ranks among the top three in-demand languages employers seek in potential hires.

Careers in Spanish

Individuals with degrees in Spanish often enter careers in education, communication, and tourism. Additional opportunities in government, business, and journalism contribute to the number of jobs for Spanish majors in the U.S. and globally. Pairing Spanish with another degree can also present more career opportunities.

A second degree in Spanish prepares business professionals to work as international marketers and managers, while a joint Spanish and public administration degree can lead to employment as a foreign diplomat.

Career options for individuals who have degrees in criminal justice, information security, or political science include immigration officer, national security analyst, and international relations specialist. Some roles may require additional certification or licensure.

Sales Managers tag $126,640 4% Bachelor's Business, Economics, Marketing No

These managers oversee sales staff to optimize overall organizational sales. They monitor budgets, implement sales strategies, and assess data to determine sales goals and outcomes. Spanish-speaking sales managers can oversee international sales between businesses and to consumers.

Medical and Health Services Managers office-building $100,980 32% Bachelor's Health administration, Business administration Yes

Medical and health services managers direct and supervise clinical and administrative activities in healthcare settings. They interact with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers to maintain compliance with regulations and laws, organize records, and oversee budgets. The ability to speak Spanish allows these professionals to communicate more effectively with patients and clients.

Foreign Language and Literature College Professors academic-cap $69,990 9% Doctoral N/A Yes

Foreign language and literature professors at colleges and universities teach students to speak, write, and communicate in specific languages. They also introduce learners to literary, cultural, and historical aspects related to their specific language. Spanish language and literature professors may specialize in a specific region, genre, or period within the field.

Social and Community Service Managers users $67,150 17% Bachelor's Social work, Business administration No

Social and community service managers coordinate with nonprofits, government agencies, and communities to direct programs that support public well-being. They determine public needs, oversee budgets, manage staff, and plan fund-raising efforts. Knowledge of Spanish allows social and community service managers to work with diverse groups around the U.S. and internationally.

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives chart-bar $63,000 2% Bachelor's Marketing and communications, Economics Yes

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell companies' and organizations' goods and services. They communicate with consumers and clients, answer questions, negotiate prices, and follow up to ensure overall satisfaction. Bilingual wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives expand their customer base, identifying product capabilities and limitations within specific cultural contexts.

High School Teachers book-open $61,660 4% Bachelor's Education Yes

High school teachers instruct students in the classroom, preparing them to graduate and continue to college or enter the workforce. They plan lessons, grade assignments, oversee assessments, and provide student support. High school teachers coordinate with colleagues, administrators, and parents to ensure student success. High school teachers who speak and read Spanish can assist non-native English teachers or teach Spanish in a high school setting.

Adult Basic and Secondary Education and ESL Teachers pencil-alt $54,350 -10% Bachelor's Adult education, English as a second language Yes

Teachers who work in adult basic and secondary education, and those who instruct English as a second language (ESL) classes, help students build reading and speaking knowledge and skills. They create lesson plans, assess student abilities, monitor progress, and help students learn English language fundamentals. Spanish proficiency allows adult basic and secondary education and ESL instructors to more effectively engage and instruct native Spanish speakers learning English.

Legislators library $53,700 6% Bachelor's Political science, Law, Public administration, International relations No

Once voted into office, legislators work on behalf of their constituents at local, state, and national levels. They develop new laws and guidelines, advocate for changes to existing regulations, and coordinate with colleagues about legislation. They keep in close contact with the citizens they represent, making knowledge of Spanish and other languages essential depending on their location.

Interpreters and Translators chat-alt-2 $51,930 20% Bachelor's English, Linguistics, American Sign Language Yes

Interpreters and translators convert spoken and written languages. Interpreters work in healthcare, criminal justice, education, and business settings, serving as intermediaries for individuals who speak different languages. Translators read written material in one language and duplicate its structure, style, and meaning in another language.

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts newspaper $46,270 -11% Bachelor's International relations, Journalism, Telecommunications, Political science

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts relay information about events to the public. They write articles; appear in audio and visual media; and analyze local, regional, national, and international events. These professionals also conduct interviews, fact-check their content, and provide information to audiences.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Kinds of Spanish Degrees Are There?

Each Spanish degree is unique and different in scope. Individuals should determine which degree best aligns with their personal and professional goals.

Associate and bachelor's degrees build fundamental communication skills in Spanish. Undergraduate students can earn associate degrees in two years, while bachelor's degrees typically take four. Earning a master's degree in Spanish builds expertise in the language, with opportunities to focus on regional dialects, work toward professional use, or continue onto a doctorate in Spanish.

Associate Degree in Spanish

An associate degree in Spanish typically includes two years of coursework. Enrollees study basic Spanish vocabulary, grammar, and structure as they learn to speak and write the language. An associate degree in Spanish also teaches learners to translate from English to Spanish and about Spanish literature and culture.

With an associate degree in Spanish, individuals can pursue roles as administrative associates, teaching assistants, and community service workers.

Bachelor of Spanish Degree

Through roughly four years of coursework, individuals earn a bachelor's-level education in Spanish language, linguistics, and culture. A bachelor's degree in Spanish includes coursework in introductory, elementary, and advanced Spanish grammar and vocabulary, with additional classes in specific dialects, history, and literature.

Many bachelor's degrees in Spanish incorporate courses to help students enter education careers. A bachelor's degree also opens up opportunities to work as interpreters, cultural events coordinators, and international salespeople.

Master's Degree in Spanish

A master's degree in Spanish spans two years, often serving as a degree that supplements an existing career path or a bachelor's degree in a different discipline. Teachers, business professionals, and social workers earn a master's degree in Spanish to build competencies within their current roles.

Individuals in media can work as Spanish publishing specialists, while sales and manufacturing professionals gain knowledge and skills that benefit them in roles as importers and exporters. Additional positions for individuals with master's degrees in Spanish include interpreter, translator, international relations consultant, and community college instructor.

Doctoral Degree in Spanish

A doctorate in Spanish includes 3-5 years of coursework, seminars, research, and dissertation requirements. Part-time students may take as many as 10 years to earn their doctoral degrees.

A doctoral degree in Spanish leads to positions teaching Spanish language, literature, and culture courses at colleges and universities. With a doctorate in Spanish, a graduate can also work as a language researcher, writer, immigration consultant, or international relations specialist. Some of these positions may require additional certification and licensure.

Choosing a Spanish Degree Program

Spanish degrees vary by level, institution, and department. When choosing a Spanish program, individuals should assess factors like tuition, program length, and available specializations. An online program in Spanish may allow for more flexibility and convenience than an on-campus degree, although synchronous and asynchronous requirements differ among programs.

Students should also consider their professional goals to identify their ideal degree pathway. Individuals who work in healthcare may want to enter a program that offers coursework in Spanish medical vocabulary. Educators can earn master's degrees in Spanish to hone their knowledge and skills in various aspects of the discipline. Learners should also consider additional certification and licensure needs, along with how a Spanish degree can help meet those requirements.

Accreditation for Spanish Programs

When researching Spanish programs, students should determine the accreditation status of each prospective school. Colleges and universities in the U.S. hold national or regional accreditation, with the regional form generally held in higher regard. This status influences financial aid, credit transfer, and employment opportunities.

Along with regional or national accreditation, some programs receive specialized accreditation from professional or discipline-focused entities. While no agency specifically accredits Spanish degree programs, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, as a specialized professional association of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, confers the status upon schools that prepare teachers of foreign languages.

Spanish Professional Organizations

The AATSP, established in 1917, fosters relationships among educators and institutions to enhance Spanish and Portuguese language instruction. The AATSP provides online forums, advocacy opportunities, publications, and career resources to members. Students can pursue networking opportunities, scholarship and stipend programs, and access to research in the discipline. Tasked with supporting translators and interpreters across professional settings, ATA promotes standards of competence, collaboration and communication, and professional development within the field. Members of ATA receive access to the language service directory, certification programs, webinar resources, and industry publications. Additional member benefits include discounts on software, training programs, and events. ACTFL, dating back to 1967, provides professional development courses, career resources, and networking opportunities to its members. Members receive access to publications, scholarship and grant opportunities, mentoring, and discounts on ACTFL products. The MLA, founded in 1883, serves as a global leader in English and foreign language scholarship and teaching. Along with its style guide, the MLA provides members access to periodicals, online forums, and annual events. This association also advocates for English and foreign language departments and houses a career center. With individual and institutional members, LASA is the largest association in the world supporting the study of Latin America. The majority of LASA's membership resides outside the U.S., uniting experts on Latin America across disciplines and professions. LASA holds an annual congress, provides travel grants to its events, and offers publications and career information.

Frequently Asked Questions

true Will Majoring in Spanish Make Me Fluent?

Majoring in Spanish will increase your ability to communicate in the language but will not necessarily make you fluent. This requires hard work and continued use of the language outside of an educational setting.

What Are Entry-Level Jobs for Spanish Majors?

Entry-level jobs for Spanish majors include teacher, salesperson, and interpreter. Employment varies with personal and professional interests and goals.

Will Learning Spanish Help My Career?

Learning Spanish will help individuals in roles that benefit from bilingual abilities, such as professionals in business, education, and tourism.

Are Bilingual Teachers in Demand?

Research indicated that, as of 2019, bilingual teachers were in short supply in the United States.

Melissa Sartore holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her BA and MA in history are from Western Illinois University. A medievalist by training, she has published on outlawry in medieval England with additional publications on outlaws in popular culture and across geographic and historical boundaries.

Header Image Credit: Hill Street Studios | Getty Images

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