Careers for Linguistic Majors: 8 Jobs You Can Do with a Degree in Linguistics

careers for linguistics majors


Linguistics is the scientific study of language.

When you have earned a degree in this field, you’ll have spent time studying the phonetics of a language, its semantics, and the syntax which is used.

There are several different branches within the field of linguistics that can be studies as well.

From applied linguistics to computational linguistics, the study of language covers social, economic, and societal uses.

If you’re a linguistics major or you’ve always loved languages and want to study them in more detail, then you might be wondering what kind of career options await in the future.

Here are the best careers for linguistic majors to consider pursuing once they graduate.


#1. Academics

Once you’ve gathered the knowledge from your linguistics degree, you’ll be able to turn what you’ve learned into a teaching opportunity.

Teachers with linguistics backgrounds are often sought out for several different subject departments, from communications to philosophy.

You can work as a lecturer, in a high school, at a community college, or in a university setting.

Teaching opportunities are based on the level of education that has been received.

Being a junior lecturer or high school teacher may only require a 4-year degree and a professional teaching certificate.

Community college professors or senior lecturing opportunities may require a graduate degree, while many university positions would require a doctorate degree.

Salaries are based on personal experience and education in this career opportunity.

Entry-level positions typically pay around $35,000. With 5+ years of experience, job opportunities tend to average about $50,000 per year.

A professor with tenure and 10+ years of experience can earn over $100,000 in this field, with top earners approaching $175,000.


#2. Translation

If you enjoy writing and working with different languages, then the experience of being a linguistic major can be used to find work as a translator.

Most translators are expected to translate at least 2,000 words per day or be available for international meetings so that direct spoken translations can be provided.

Some translators work for news organizations.

Others work in the public sector for state or national governments.

Freelancing is a growing opportunity in this career option as well.

Most translation careers focus on specialization in one area, such as politics, commerce, or science.

Earning opportunities are based on the structure of the job.

Some translators are paid based on the number of words they produce each day.

Others are paid a base salary with travel expenses.

Highly specialized fields that demand specific personal experiences and a linguistics degree tend to produce the jobs with the highest salaries.

A 4-year degree is often required, with some opportunities requiring a graduate degree.

Entry-level positions for this job opportunity begin around $25,000 per year.

This is what a beginning freelance translator can expect to earn as well.

Top earners in this career option can make upwards of $80,000 per year.


#3. Writer

Thanks to modern platforms and technologies, anyone can become a published writer if that’s something they enjoy doing.

With your experience and education in the field of linguistics, there are many opportunities for you to establish a personal brand and help people.

As a linguistics writer, you could create programs that would help others learn how to speak a foreign language.

You could become a blogger that discusses the science of language within your specialty.

You could create books about what the structure of language means to you and sell them on numerous platforms or on your own website.

There are several internet marketing platforms that can help you get started with this career opportunity right now, even if you’re not familiar with how to create your own site, book, or listing.

Because this is a self-employment type of opportunity, wages tend to be lower at first and then build up over time.

Over the first year, most linguistics majors pursing this type of opportunity may earn less than $10,000.

As time passes and more products, services, or websites are created, it is possible to earn 6 or even 7 figures, depending on how consumers react to what you’re offering.

You don’t need to wait for a linguistics degree to get started either.

You can begin this type of job while you’re still in school.

If you would like to create your own blog or website and start a career as a writer then you should consider joining this online educational platform which is a great place for newbies like you.


#4. Forensics

Forensic science involves the use of techniques or tests that are related to a specific behavior.

As a linguistic major specializing in forensics, you would be called upon to study the structure of language that is used during the commission of a crime or an investigation into someone’s behavior.

You may be called upon to examine a suicide letter.

You might be asked to look at a threatening communication.

Examining social media, pursuing disputes, or identifying authors are also included a linguistics job that is centered around forensics.

Many jobs in this career opportunity are based in the public sector, working for the government, law enforcement, or similar institutions.

Some private opportunities in business and law exist as well.

Hours can be irregular and many forensic linguistic specialists are asked to work on-call so there is an emergency response available.

Entry-level earning opportunities in this career field begin around $40,000 with a 4-year degree.

Those who have a graduate degree in linguistics can earn around $65,000 annually.

With a doctorate degree in this specialty, top earners can exceed $100,000 per year.


#5. Lexicography

A lexicon is defined as the vocabulary of an individual, a language, or a specific branch of knowledge.

It may also be a dictionary or an encyclopedia.

Working in the field of lexicography, a linguistics major would use their knowledge and experience to compose or compile information to create a database for others to use.

There are two fields of lexicography that a linguistic major may pursue.

The first is called “practical lexicography.”

It refers to the creation of a database, such as a dictionary, and the writing, editing, or compilation requirements that are required to do so.

The second is called “theoretical lexicography.”

This type of database will describe and analyze semantics, syntagmatics, and paradigmatics within the lexicon of a specific language.

It requires the development of theoretical structures or components that can link data points together so that the information can be appropriately accessed when needed.

Lexicographers are responsible for finding or recording new words to add to each database they monitor.

They must also edit their own texts or compilations for accuracy.

They may create dictionaries, encyclopedias, or curriculum that is used to teach linguistics in a specific category to interested students.

Translation responsibilities may be included with this career opportunity.

Some lexicographers are also asked to conduct demographic research so that the information compiled has the highest potential value to targeted individuals.

To work in lexicography, most linguistic majors will need to have a specialty minor included with their 4-year degree.

This may include teaching English as a second language, history, political science, or a foreign language.

Experience as a foreign language teacher or tutor can be helpful when pursuing a job in this field.

Entry-level lexicographers can earn about $50,000 per year with a 4-year degree.

Higher salary opportunities may exist for those with a graduate or doctorate degree.


#6. Computer Programming

The reason why you can read this content on a PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone is because a linguistics major helped to work out the bugs of the programming code of the software that you are using.

Computer programming is a language, though usually unspoken, and improving the science and structure of it is the perfect career opportunity.

There are numerous ways to specialize within this career option for linguistic majors.

You could work on computational linguistics to help develop artificial intelligence.

You might be asked to work on software that produces automatic language translations from search engine requests.

There are even opportunities available to edit existing programming to remove any bugs that might be lurking in the codes that have been created.

To work in this field, you will need to have a graduate degree in computational linguistics, or a related field, at minimum.

You will also need to have foreign language experience and a working knowledge of computer programming.

Many who work in this field started as a dual-major, focusing on linguistics and information technologies.

Then they moved onto their graduate degree in computer linguistics.

Although the educational components of this career opportunity may be more work than other career options, there are higher salary opportunities.

With computer programming knowledge, a full-time position that pays $50,000 or more is an option while still earning your degree.

Once you earn your graduate degree, most positions pay around $75,000 for an entry-level job.

Earning a doctorate degree will almost ensure a salary above $100,000.

Top earners in this field who can pioneer new processes have an unlimited earning potential.


#7. Speech Therapy

Through the study of language structure, it becomes possible to detect patterns in speech.

If those patterns are not quite right for an individual, communication becomes more difficult for that person.

Working in the field of speech therapy, your job would be to use your linguistics background to recognize these patterns and then help individuals correct them.

As a speech therapist, which may also include language therapy, you would help people overcome a stuttering habit.

You could help them learn to pronounce specific words with better annunciation.

Resonance disorders, voice disorders, and cognitive-communication disorders that affect a person’s interactive skills would also be addressed.

For linguistic majors who pursue a graduate degree in a medical field, speech therapy may also include addressing feeding or swallowing disorders.

After a 4-year degree in linguistics, a graduate degree in speech therapy is usually necessary to pursue a career in this field.

Many communities require some form of licensure to work as a therapist as well.

Private and public sector opportunities are available.

Entry-level positions in this career option begin around $45,000 per year.

The average salary for speech therapists is about $60,000, while top earners may be able to earn close to $90,000 per year.

Some positions may also provide bonuses of up to 5% based on personal performance.


#8. Librarian

Linguistics majors are sought after by libraries because their knowledge about languages helps to connect people to the resources they need.

Whether books are wanted for learning, entertainment, or both, librarians help people to better themselves by keeping local resources organized and finding new resources, as needed, to help others.

Librarians are asked to catalog a collection of books, movies, discs, and other materials.

They may be asked to create presentations to various institutions, including schools, to discuss what a library can provide.

They also assist with the location and use of the resources that are contained within a library’s collection.

After a 4-year degree in linguistics, the best opportunities in this career field become available with a graduate degree in library science.

Basic customer service positions are often available at local libraries without a degree, however, so you can see if this is a career opportunity that is right for you.

Entry-level positions in this field typically begin at $30,000 or less in many communities.

With a 4-year degree, the average salary rises to about $51,000 per year.

Top earners with a graduate degree in library science to complement their degree in linguistics can earn more than $80,000 per year.


Is a Degree in Linguistics the Right Career Choice?

What is unique about working within the field of linguistics is that it offers a high level of personal flexibility.

Many professionals in this field can pursue multiple career opportunities simultaneously.

It is not unusual to see someone with a linguistics degree working as a professor or teacher, a published author, and an editor or translator all at the same time.

If you love the structure of language, then pursuing a degree in linguistics could be the right career choice.

Look at the career options which are available and you’ll see that the right job could be waiting for you.



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