As of 2010, only 18.9 percent of workers in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' management, professional and related occupations category were Hispanic/Latino. Yet Hispanic/Latinos accounted for 41 percent of maids and housekeepers. That gap is expected to narrow as Hispanics/Latinos find new paths to higher-paying careers. Their own advocacy, as well as market forces, are paving the way.
Opportunities Will Keep Increasing
For instance, successful Hispanic/Latino professionals are working to improve educational opportunities and break down barriers to entry into higher-paying jobs. Many are doing this individually or through professional lobbying groups such as the Hispanic National Bar Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and dozens of others.
Economics is another factor driving the upward mobility of Hispanics/Latinos. There are so many newly arrived, Spanish-speaking workers taking low-skilled jobs that industries depend on them. An analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, DC, found that, over the year ending March 31, 2004, 29 percent of new jobs created in the US were taken by noncitizens -- mostly Hispanics/Latinos. That means businesses are going to need more Hispanic/Latino managers and supervisory personnel.
Managers and Supervisors Needed
This is already happening in construction. "Nowadays, managers have to be able to speak Spanish -- it's fast becoming a job requirement," says a US Bureau of Labor Statistics economist who studies the building trades. It's easy to see why. Hispanics/Latinos make up 58.6 percent of drywall installers and 51.5 percent of cement masons, according to the BLS. Currently, 16.5 percent of the first-line construction supervisors are Hispanic/Latino -- and that percentage will rise. It's cheaper for a construction company to hire a Spanish speaker than to send someone to language training. And language training is not enough; supervisors need to understand their workers' cultures to get the best results.
In housekeeping and janitorial work, 19.8 percent of first-line supervisors are Hispanic/Latino. That number should climb even higher, because more than 500,000 maids and housekeepers are Hispanic/Latino.
Hispanic/Latino Nurses in Demand
According to BLS projections, the occupation with the largest job growth between 2010 and 2020 will be registered nurse with 711,900 openings. This is a high-status, high-paying occupation that offers numerous Hispanic/Latino opportunities.
Currently, only 3.6 percent of RNs are Hispanic/Latino, hardly enough to meet the needs of the growing Hispanic/Latino patient population. The demand is already so great that non-US citizens who have nursing specializations beyond the RN (and even in some cases, if they are RNs without any additional specializations) may qualify for H-1B visas, which allow US businesses to temporarily hire qualified foreign employees in specialty occupations.
Media Jobs on the Rise
Hispanics/Latinos comprise 32.5 percent of all "miscellaneous media and communication workers." These are the employees who keep the TV programs and presses rolling. More glamorous and higher-paying media jobs are also opening up to Hispanics/Latinos because of the growth of Spanish-speaking and English-dominant Hispanic/Latino audiences. Five new Spanish-language newspapers were launched in the US in 2003.
By 2050, Latinos are expected to make up 24 percent of the labor force. Cultural barriers against entry into even the highest positions continue to fall, and in many fields, a Hispanic/Latino background is already an asset.
Articles in This Feature:
Learn more about skilled trades careers.