Learning a foreign language will be a significant skill to differentiate yourself in today's market place and learning and mastering Chinese will put you leaps and bounds ahead of others. First, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a structural engineer who has been studying Chinese on the side for the past eight years. A question I get a lot is "why did you first start to learn Chinese?" Especially recently with my new job search here in Japan, I hear this question quite frequently. I never had a great reason why I started. A lot of my friends spoke Chinese so I wanted to learn it as well. Only after I started studying Chinese for a couple years did I realize what a great decision I had made. For instance, take the job that I am starting tomorrow here in Tokyo Japan with a structural engineering company. Would I have gotten the job if I was just a structural engineer from America? Probably not. They only speak Japanese in the office and I don’t speak great Japanese. The deal maker was that I spoke Chinese. They see China as their most rapidly growing market and are keen to find talented engineers who speak Chinese (and English). The number of business opportunities for English speakers who also speak Mandarin Chinese is going to keep growing for years to come. Like it or not, China's economy will match and then overtake the US's economy in terms of sheer size. Smart individuals will place themselves ahead of the curve to take full advantage of this trend. Doing business in China is tough. Many US and European firms see themselves striking it rich in China, only to pull out of the country a few years later. If you want to maximize your odds of success, the first step is to have a minimal understanding of the language and culture. The next step is to be fluent in the language and understand its cultural history. Otherwise, I'm sure you'll find yourself hiring somebody who can.