You might never have tried to learn Italian, but chances are, if you’re in the US, you’ve encountered the language in everyday life—when you order pizza, down a cappuccino, eat pasta for dinner, or even take music lessons. Italian is mainly spoken by around 60 million people in Italy along with other countries such as Switzerland and Malta. Nevertheless, its influence on world culture is profound, especially in the arts, and there are many communities globally that have it as their lingua franca. A Romance language that closely resembles English, it has been described as beautiful, melodious, and expressive.

There are many upfront reasons for learning Italian. Many people start studying the language out of passion for certain aspects of Italian culture or simply for fun. Some of them even end up in getting a college degree in Italian Language and Literature. What’s less obvious is that learning Italian can help you develop professionally, opening up a wide vista of opportunities.

Here’s why it just might take your career to a whole new level: 

It’s Ideal for Business.

Italy carries a lot of power as a country. It’s among the top economies in the world and the wealthiest democracies, and Italian is the fourth most spoken foreign language in US homes. This means that Italy has significant heft in the marketplace, with many openings for business. As globalization becomes more rampant, at least 1000 US companies—Motorola, IBM, and General Electric, to name a few—have set up offices in Italy, and around 7,500 US companies perform transactions with Italians. Moreover, many top global companies are based in Italy. Being fluent in Italian significantly increases your odds of becoming employed in any of these, and it can mean the difference between you and an otherwise equally qualified candidate. 

It Accelerates Your Progress in Several Fields

Because of Italy’s huge influence in the humanities, learning Italian can get you far in fields such as fashion, art history, music, food, and languages. According to UNESCO, 60% of the world’s art treasures are in Italy, so it’s a requirement for art historians to at least be aware of the language! Italy is also a fashion powerhouse since it’s home to Prada, Giorgo Armani, Gucci, and many other well-known brands. Fluency in Italian can get you started with a career in interpretation or translation, and for some academics with specific research interests, being able to read Italian texts or listen to understand songs in Italian language may be a must. Outside of the humanities, Italian can benefit those working in the government, especially in international relations. But that’s not all—Italy is a world leader in space engineering, furniture design, robotics, and many other industries involved in manufacturing.

It Hones Your Critical Thinking Skills

Learning a foreign language has a lot of cognitive benefits. Because of the sheer effort required—all those vocabulary words, grammar rules, and new sounds that you have to memorize—you’re giving your brain a workout, and It’s not surprising that you end up building new neural connections that make you more agile with your thinking. Aside from sharpening how you analyze and process information, it boosts your linguistic intelligence, makes you more eloquent even in your native language, and increases your decision-making and multitasking capabilities. On top of that, it might have a positive effect on academic prowess, improving students’ scores in unrelated subjects and raising SAT performance. Given the emphasis on information in today’s workplace, critical thinking skills are very much crucial—the more high-level your role is, the more your performance depends on these. 

It Makes You a Better Communicator

Learning Italian exposes you to a whole way of seeing the world, and because of the influx of ideas, you become more creative, knowledgeable, and culturally sensitive. In addition, speaking a foreign language improves how you relate with people—you’re more likely to become empathetic and accepting of different perspectives. Employers value soft skills just as much as critical thinking and technical skills, if not more. Being able to communicate well is extremely important. In fact, because of the global economy, companies favor people who can speak foreign languages, regardless of the job they’re applying for. Bilingual people even have a higher salary, and for employers, being fluent in Italian is a sign that you’re comfortable with global business relationships and diverse teams.

What’s Next

Convinced about the merits of learning Italian? The good news is that picking up the language won’t be as hard as, say, Russian or Mandarin Chinese because Italian bears a lot of similarity with English. You can look into the following useful resources: Duolingo Italian for getting started, iTalki for one-on-one tutors, ItalianPod101 for fun podcasts, and Rocket Italian for online learning. Regardless of whether you’re learning Italian for professional development or not, enjoy the process and let yourself fall in love with the language!