In the Business World
As China continues to grow as an economic power (and figures are estimated by some experts to be much higher than official numbers show), knowledge of Chinese is a wonderful skill that can help you gain promotion in your workplace. With more and more U.S. companies expanding partnerships with China, the economic growth of China is the most massive in modern history. Employers recognize the value of Chinese language skills not just in obvious fields such as manufacturing, finance, and technology, but also in areas including: infrastructure, engineering, energy, sustainability, communications, chemistry, and life sciences.
In Public Service
The relationship between the United States in China is one of the most important in the international community, so it’s not surprising that there are many jobs in the field of facilitating this relationship. Jobs in this sector, such as translation and diplomacy, are not as difficult to secure as you might suppose, especially if you have Chinese language skills.
For Teachers and Academics
If you decide you’d like the adventure of living abroad, China has opportunities that might entice even established professionals. For example, some universities in China will hire you as a teacher even if you only have your Bachelor’s Degree. This is true, for example, in Southwest China in cities as major as Cheng Du. I personally know quite a few people who are happily working as professors in China with only their B.A. degrees.
If you work in academics, there are a lot of opportunities to move to China for as little as a semester and share your special field of knowledge. Even in the United States, if you can speak Chinese, your skills will be coveted by many student affairs offices. There are a lot of opportunities, for example, to serve as a school ambassador for Chinese students. There are almost 70,000 Chinese students studying in U.S. colleges, and though many of them are fluent in English, working with them will usually require knowledge of their language as well. This can be in itself a full-time job or an expansion of your current career.
Studying Chinese also has more general and subtle benefits. It will sharpen your communication skills in ways you hadn’t even imagined. It will give you cross-cultural knowledge and broaden your mind in ways that will make you a more creative and socially intelligent thinker. Also, although this in itself isn’t a reason to study any language, we also shouldn’t ignore the fact that, as one Redditor puts it, if you can speak Chinese, “people will assume you’re a genius.” While he might put matters a little hyperbolically, there’s no denying that you will not only appear but actually be more competent and functionally intelligent with this expanded skillset.
If you’re looking to move up in your current workplace or look for an exciting career change, Chinese is one of the best ways to expand your opportunities.
Whether you’re just out of college and looking to break into your field or a young professional searching for your dream job, the ability to speak Chinese is becoming an important part of standing out in the emerging workforce. Chinese proficiency can open new doors in fields as diverse as business and finance, education and academia, arts and culture, science and technology, and more.
Work Abroad or in the U.S.
It’s well known that China remains in the top 15 fastest-growing economies in the world. The number of companies that manufacture in China is immense, including everything from Apple and Cannon to Honda and Haagen-Dazs. Just as the “Made in Japan” label has grown from a sign of cheap manufacturing in the past to high-quality products today, so is China’s labor force becoming more skilled and specialized as the country develops. In fact, modern China is shifting its economy more and more to rely on information and skill-based jobs, such as design and technology. However, even among the small percentage of Chinese people who speak English, an even smaller amount of them are fluent. Thus, as business becomes more and more globalized, the ability to communicate with Chinese speakers will create a wealth of opportunities.
If you want to build your resume or adventure and explore by teaching English in China, you will need proficiency in Chinese to navigate ordinary life. Additionally, in the academic and scientific world, more and more scholars are traveling to and from China to teach and exchange ideas, information, and technology.
But even if you want to build your career in the United States, Chinese skills are becoming increasingly in demand. California, for example, has so many Chinese speakers that even some jobs for receptionists, administrative assistants, and even dental assistants are requesting Chinese fluency of their applicants. But Chinese proficiency is even being demanded for seemingly unrelated jobs as far inland as Chicago!
Jobs for Chinese Speakers in the U.S.:
To give you an idea of what kind of jobs are growing to demand Chinese language skills, here are some random classifieds posted in 2016:
Bank Teller (Wells Fargo): “Desired Qualifications:…Bilingual speaking proficiency in Chinese (Mandarin)/English.”
Associate Director, Cost Management (Cumming Corporation): “Here’s the kicker – we need you to speak Mandarin. It is possible that we will accept a non-Mandarin speaker, but highly unlikely.”
Cloud Support Engineer (Amazon.com): “Basic Qualifications: … oral and written communication skills in both English and Mandarin Chinese”
Senior Accountant (New Vision Display, Inc.): “The job requires…fluent speaking ability in mandarin Chinese”
Other jobs open to Chinese speakers include:
International Student Advisor
Cost Manager (Corporate Real Estate)
Airline Customer Service Agent
Peace Corps Volunteer
Use Chinese to Build Your Career
No matter what kind of career you’re looking for—business, education, government, arts, technology—knowledge of the Chinese language will make you much more competitive as an applicant and in the workplace. If you’re looking to set yourself apart, the ability to communicate with over 1/5 of the world’s population and expand your business and ideas internationally makes Chinese a great and essential skill.