Engineers are needed in almost every area of life, from product design to building construction, but not everyone speaks the same language. Being an engineer means adapting to challenges, and why limit your ability to work by only knowing one language? The question is, what language should you learn? After all, there are about 6,500 spoken languages in the world. The decision of which language to learn should depend a lot on the proximity of languages near you or maybe even where you dream of completing groundbreaking engineering projects. Also, whether you're a young student or a seasoned professional, you will have to focus on international markets where engineering services are most required at the time. In order to help you decide which language to learn, we have assembled the top 9 languages that engineers NEED to know!
**Each language has a 'Need to Know' Locations which describes the key locations where knowing this language would be important. This was added to better help you pick which language to learn**
Chinese – Mandarin
Mandarin Chinese is the most widely-spoken language on the planet with over 1 billion native speakers and growing. With China being the most heavily populated country on the planet, it is no surprise that Mandarin has so many speakers. This is an incredibly tough language to learn due to the variety of pronunciations and tones of words. Learning this language will open you up to work on engineering with over 10% of the world's minds, so this is a must know in the modern global economy. Those who search for lucrative engineering jobs can easily find them in China. Due to a vast number of projects in this part of the world, it is also a great place for university students to practice their skills and improve their knowledge.
'Need to Know' Locations: China, Taiwan, Singapore, Asia
Speakers: 1 billion +
French is spoken by over 120 million people worldwide and it has native speakers on multiple continents with countries including Belgium, Canada, Rwanda, Haiti, and France. If you work around the world, you are likely to come in contact with a native French speaker since they are so spread out across the globe, unlike Chinese which tends to be centralized in Asia. With French, you are able to find lots of different engineering jobs especially in Carrebean countries and Africa.
'Need to Know' Locations: Canda, Europe, Africa, Northern South America
Speakers: 129 million
One of the world's oldest languages, Arabic is mainly spoken in the middle east where much expansion is currently occurring. Native speakers are found in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and many more. Arabic is also the language of the Koran, so many Muslims around the world know Arabic as well. Surprisingly, Arabic was made the sixth official language of the United Nations in 1974. Always remember that there are lots of Arabic countries investing in their infrastructure. Lots of them are prepared to pay the top dollar for highly proficient engineers.
'Need to Know' Locations: Middle East, North Africa
Speakers: 246 million
We have all heard of famous German engineering, so it should be no surprise that learning German could help you expand your engineering skills across the world. Germany is also the second largest exporter in the world, and the fourth largest economy worldwide, so if you work in the engineering and technology fields, German is definitely, need to know. You should also consider attending an engineering program in one of the numerous German universities. The experience will likely be good and it is always beneficial to have a German degree. Given how much they contributed to the field over the years this is a good way to start your career.
'Need to Know' Location: Europe
Speakers: 229 million
You are probably wondering why English is on a list of top languages to learn from engineers written in English. After all, you should already know English right? Well, even if you know English, communicating effectively and efficiently in the technical world doesn't come naturally, and you will probably need to work on it. Before you start learning another language, you could try honing your English skills and become a more effective communicator. Most people think they know English by simply being exposed to the Internet. Don't be fooled by this as there are numerous engineering phrases that you need to learn in order to properly do the job and communicate with other English speakers.
'Need to Know' Locations: North America, Europe, Australia, Certain African Countries, Parts of South America
Speakers: 510 million
The largest native language in Europe, Russian, is the official language of many smaller European and Asian countries, as well as, of course, Russia. It is widely-spoken in the Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and a few other locations. You will most likely want to learn this language is you foresee yourself working in Eastern Europe. It is also a great starting point for learning other Slavic languages later on.
'Need to Know' Locations: Europe, Russia
Speakers: 225 million
You probably don't think of Portuguese when you think of the world's top languages, but it currently ranks number 6 in most speakers around the world, and its speakers spread across many continents. From South America to Europe, learning Portuguese can come in handy for any work you do in these areas. If you frequent South America, it is the second most spoken language, after Spanish of Course.
Need to Know' Location: Europe, South America, USA
Speakers: 213 million
Most people in the USA were probably taught a little Spanish in grade school, and there is a good reason for that. Almost every South American and Central American country speaks Spanish, not to mention Spain. The English language has many words based on Spanish origins as well, so if you speak English already, Spanish may be a good starter language to learn.
'Need to Know' Location: Europe, South America, USA
Speakers: 392 million
Which languages from this list do you use? Have they helped you build your career?
Written by Trevor English