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Career Options for Spanish Majors: Job Information and Requirements

Degree programs in Spanish typically cover advanced training in the Spanish language as well as broad cultural studies. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for Spanish graduates.

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Spanish majors have many career options that they can consider. Some may opt to pursue a career in education, while others might become foreign correspondents or interpreters and translators. A bachelor's degree is typically required, interpreters and translators must also be fluent in Spanish, and graduate studies are needed to teach at the postsecondary level.

Essential Information

Students majoring in Spanish have many career options available to them in fields including education, travel, government, business and communication. Requirements vary for each career and each employer.

Career Spanish Educator Interpreter/Translator Foreign Correspondent
Education Bachelor's Degree
Advanced Degree (post-secondary)
Fluency & 3-5 years experience Bachelor's Degree
Advanced Degree (optional)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 11% (post-secondary foreign language and literature teachers) 29% -8%
Median Salary (2015)* $61,380 (post-secondary) $44,190 $36,360

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options for Spanish Majors

After English, Spanish is the most widely used language in the U.S. For this reason, Spanish majors put themselves at an advantage above their competition in several different job areas. There are numerous career opportunities for Spanish majors; a few are discussed here.

Spanish Educator

Students majoring in Spanish can opt to work in the education field as self-enrichment Spanish instructors, school teachers or college professors. Spanish educators teach both the written and verbal forms of Spanish. In addition to teaching Spanish language fundamentals, they also teach students about the culture of Spanish-speaking countries.

The job duties of Spanish educators include developing a curriculum, distributing assignments, engaging students in discussions, grading coursework and evaluating the students' overall knowledge at the end of the course. Spanish college professors usually keep regular office hours and perform additional research on the Spanish language.

Self-enrichment Spanish instructors teach in nonacademic settings. Completion of the class rarely leads to any sort of degree or certificate, and attendance is voluntary. Instruction can be given on a one-on-one basis or in a group environment.

Requirements for Spanish Educators

Fluency in both the verbal and written forms of the English and Spanish languages is required of Spanish educators. They must understand and apply the rules of composition, understand grammar exceptionally well and have extensive vocabularies. Education requirements depend on the level at which Spanish educators teach.

The main requirement for self-enrichment Spanish instructors is expertise, but requirements vary depending on the employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), university and 4-year college-level Spanish educators may be required to hold a doctoral degree for full-time tenured positions, although a master's degree may suffice for some positions (www.bls.gov). Spanish professors at 2-year colleges are usually required to hold a master's degree.

The BLS stated that the majority of grade school Spanish teachers earn a bachelor's degree and a teaching license. Teaching licenses are required by public schools in each state, but are not required at many private schools. The teaching license tests the Spanish teacher's competency and proficiency in Spanish.

Career and Salary Information

The BLS predicted that elementary, middle and high school teacher jobs will increase 6% from 2014 to 2024. In 2015, the median salary for elementary school teachers was $54,890, according to the BLS; it was $55,860 for middle school teachers and $57,200 for high school teachers.

Jobs for Spanish language college professors are predicted to grow 11% from 2014 to 2024, reported the BLS. The agency also reported that foreign language college professors earned a median salary of $61,380. Meanwhile, self-enrichment teachers could look forward to a 15% increase in jobs, per the BLS. The median salary for self-enrichment teachers was $36,680 in 2015.

Spanish Interpreter or Translator

Spanish interpreters and translators convert Spanish into another language or convert another language into Spanish. Interpreters convert the verbal language and translators convert the written language. Interpreters and translators do more than transform words to and from Spanish; they also convey ideas, feelings and colloquialisms. In the U.S., interpreters and translators work in courts and medical centers to aid Spanish-speaking individuals.

Interpreters may also act as escorts for people traveling to Spanish-speaking countries, or for Spanish-speaking individuals visiting foreign countries. Literary translators translate Spanish literature into another language, or literature written in another language into Spanish.

Requirements for Spanish Translators and Interpreters

Spanish translators and interpreters are fluent in Spanish and at least one other language. The BLS stated that education requirements for translators and interpreters vary for each employer. Experience is crucial for most jobs, and some employers only hire people with at least 3-5 years of experience. Informal and volunteer work are good ways to gain experience.

Career and Salary Information

The BLS reported that the number of jobs for interpreters and translators is expected to grow 29% from 2014 to 2024. The BLS also reported that interpreters and translators earned a median salary of $44,190 in 2015.

Foreign Correspondent

Spanish foreign correspondents are stationed in Spanish-speaking countries, where they report the news of the country back to the news headquarters. They research leads and news tips, interview community leaders and members and attend events. Foreign correspondents use the information they collected to write news articles and reports, which may be distributed through newspapers, magazines or the Internet. They may also broadcast live or recorded news events and interviews and take photos.

Requirements for Spanish Foreign Correspondents

The BLS reported that while most news companies prefer to hire individuals with degrees in journalism or communications, candidates with subject-specific degrees may be considered. In addition to having good writing skills, foreign correspondents are competent in using various multimedia formats. Reporting news with accuracy and objectively is required, and foreign correspondents must be comfortable interacting with various types of people, being in unfamiliar areas and working irregular hours.

Career and Salary Information

Foreign correspondent jobs, among other correspondent jobs, are expected to decline by 8% from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS. In 2015, the median salary for people with this job was $36,360.

Spanish teachers can choose to work as self-enrichment teachers or teach in elementary, middle, or high schools; they may also opt to teach at the postsecondary level. Foreign correspondents with a major in Spanish can be assigned to cover news events in Spanish-speaking countries, while interpreters and translators convert written or spoken words from Spanish to English and English to Spanish. Individuals with a major in Spanish may also work for the government or for businesses.

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