Best Languages for Your Career

Learning an in-demand language can improve you job prospects.

In this increasingly global economy, learning a new language can boost your chances at landing a lucrative job. In 2014 alone, nearly half a million job postings in the U.S. demanded specific foreign-language proficiency. To build our ranking of the best foreign languages for your career, we used data provided by job-tracking firm Burning Glass Technologies on number of job postings, median salaries, and types of jobs for each language. Here are the three best languages to learn for your career:


Portuguese comes in third place in our rankings. It has 203 million speakers worldwide, and one of the highest median annual salaries on our list, Portuguese easily outshines almost all other languages. Most Americans study Spanish, not Portuguese, giving Portuguese speakers a competitive edge in the job market. Even better, jobs requiring Portuguese pay a median salary of $42,500—$6,000 a year more than jobs requiring Spanish.


German takes second place. The language had the fourth-highest number of job postings in the markets we surveyed. And U.S. jobs demanding German proficiency pay more than those for any other language—a median of $52,000 a year. And while German has a reputation of being among the hardest European languages, it is still easier than the language in our number one spot.

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The very best language you can learn to bolster your career? It’s Mandarin, the most popular of all Chinese languages, with more than a billion speakers worldwide. In 2014, there were more than 21,000 job openings for Chinese speakers in the U.S. alone. Demand for Chinese speakers is even greater abroad, especially in booming Asian economies, including China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan. If you do decide to learn Chinese, prepare to study hard; this tonal language is consistently ranked as one of the most difficult ones for English speakers.

If these languages aren't speaking to you, see seven other languages that can help you get ahead in your career.

Christian Ruhl
Christian is an editorial intern at Kiplinger. He also interned at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is a junior majoring in Art History at Williams College, studying at Oxford through the Williams-Exeter Program. He is Executive Editor of the Williams Record (the source of a fictitious scandal in Netflix's House of Cards) and speaks several languages. Previously, Christian has worked at an MRI lab, an art museum, and an archaeological excavation in Guatemala.