Is there a bilingual "bonus" where you work?

Some companies pay their bilingual employees a certain amount over and above what monolinguals earn (based on their performing the same jobs, of course). Does your employer do that? What industry are you in? And, if there is extra compensation, what exactly is the additional pay, if you know?

Prior to teaching, I worked in a variety of customer service-type positions, and in none of my jobs was I paid an extra penny for the requirement that I would speak with customers in either English or Spanish. Fair enough. But my linguistic capabilities did lead to promotions in many instances… or even just being able to get the job in the first place. However, I am mainly interested in what bonus compensation a bilingual employee in your company would be offered.


Since the OP is asking for personal experiences, this is better suited for IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

I’m a translator, so… it’s not so much a “bonus” as a “prerequisite”.

I am a behavior therapist, and I receive a bonus of 10% of my usual hourly rate for the time spent on cases in which I need to communicate with clients in Spanish. This bonus was recently instituted to attract more bilingual therapists and it applies to all non-English languages, not just Spanish.

I don’t think so, but our compensation packages are secret and only our receptionist is bilingual anyway.

For a long time here, bilingual tech people have been able to get hired more quickly and laid off more slowly. And, of course, in the federal civil service, bilinguality is strongly encouraged. You won’t get far as a federal politician without knowing some of the other national language either.

Ditto ditto. Of course, there can be a polyglot bonus; if you can translate in both directions (generally by being one of those amazing, perfectly bilingual and bicultural, can’t-tell-which-was-their-first people that we hate) or if you have several source languages, you can probably do better for yourself.

I work in a government office that deals with the public. We have a bilingual bonus, but our bosses don’t like us to apply for it. You have to fill out a form and take a small test, pretty easy if you actually speak the language. It’s $100 extra a month I hear, but because of cost-cutting measures management denies it to people who don’t directly work with the public.

For example, some people who work in supplies were denied because they deal with other employees mostly, and I guess it’s expected that employees all know English. More perplexing was our parking staff. They were denied because management says there’s an info desk right inside the first floor of the building.

I no longer hold this position, but when I worked in consumer credit counseling I was paid more because I spoke Spanish. For both hourly wage jobs I held, the pay was about $2-3 more per hour. For salary at that company it was a few thousand more annually.

Weirdly, native Spanish speakers did not receive the bonus, just people who acquired it as a second language.

I worked a civil service job in New York. You didn’t get a financial bonus in my department for being bilingual but there was a hiring preference. But the reality was that we never got enough applicants so we hired everyone who qualified anyway.

Depends on the language - if it’s a “hard” language like Russian, Chinese or Arabic one can get an additional 15% of one’s salary if one is fluent.

Man, I wish I could speak French. My life would have been so different…

Weirdly and illegally, I would think! At least, in Ohio, it would be illegal to ask an applicant how he or she learned a language; maybe after he is already hired, it is legal to ask.

Our company has some business with Japanese clients, and the few engineers who speak Japanese are highly prized.

In the companies I’ve worked at in Québec, being bilingual was kind of a prerequisite since products and documentation etc were often going out to the rest of North America. At one company (pharmaceuticals) the in-house stuff was nearly all French, but a lot of the paperwork for clients/US products was in English. Where I work now (aerospace) it’s a mix in the office, but mostly in English since that’s the language most of the industry seems to work in.

Not unless you count extra work as a bonus.

Nope. But it is a pre-requisite for my job and maybe 5-10% of the positions here at the global HQ.

One thing I forgot to mention: My company’s corporate headquarters, and main global offices, are in the Netherlands, with the second biggest offices in Belgium. All employees are required to know English as a condition of employment.

(We have other, smaller, offices worldwide.)

Yes, it’s called a differential and it’s several hundred dollars per month iirc. State government agency.

I don’t get a bonus, but being able to handle cases in French has helped me get some interesting cases that I might not have had otherwise.