Careers In Linguistics: Our Complete Guide

A degree in linguistics can set you up for several different employment opportunities. Many people who are studying linguistics or recently graduated with a degree in linguistics get nervous when they try to figure out what they are going to do as a career with the degree.  While you may not hear a lot about linguistics careers, they are out there. Here are a few of the many careers in linguistics.

​Careers in ​Linguistics: Computational Linguist

A computational linguist combines computing and natural language to solve many problems. In this job field, you may work with computers and even artificial intelligence. You may also work with language learning, grammar, spell checking and other types of online language software to improve the way people communicate online via computers and other devices.

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Computational linguists usually work for labs, computer companies, and software companies. They make an average salary of $77,511 in the United States. To work in this field, you will need to have a master’s degree in computational linguistics or a degree is a similar subject. Some employers may also require you to have experience with foreign languages.

Careers in ​Linguistics: Linguistic Professor

If you genuinely enjoy linguistics and want to share your passion with others; you may want to consider becoming a linguistics professor. You may want to teach in a college or high school. There are also specific programs that require the help of a linguistic professor to help teach language skills to immigrants and others.

Linguistic professors can also teach other subjects with a focus on languages such as anthropology, philosophy or psychology. The annual salary of a linguistics professor in the United States is between $32,000 and $46,850. Careers in linguistics as professors at a school may require a master’s degree, but for other types of teaching or education, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient.

Careers in ​Linguistics: Translator

Many people who enjoy translating different languages pursue a linguistics degree. Translators can work in a variety of industries. You may translate documents on paper or online, or you may translate the spoken word.

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Translators work for the government, schools, private businesses, tour guides, and even as freelancers. Most translators have specific areas of expertise.  Translators are often paid by the number of words they translate within a particular period. Certain types of translators are higher paid than others.

The average salary for translators in the United States is between $25,370 and $46,120. Most translation careers require you to know two languages as well as your native language. The more languages you can speak and translate, the more career opportunities you will have.

Careers in ​Linguistics: Foreign Language Instructor

If you are skilled in linguistics, you may enjoy a career as a foreign language instructor.  You may work in a high school, college, or a government office to help teach a new language to students. You will create lesson plans, grade papers, and tests, and have conferences with parents. The annual salary of a foreign language can vary based on the level of experience and the employer.

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On average, foreign language instructors make between $31,500-$50,300 a year. To become a foreign language instructor, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in linguistics. Some employers may also require specific coursework.

Careers in ​Linguistics: Forensic Linguist

A forensic linguist work on phone calls, suicide letters, threatening letters, social media, and other criminal types of communication during legal cases. They often work for law firms or the government to help solve crimes. Some even work with the CIA and the FBI. It is one of the higher paying careers in the linguistic industry, and forensic linguists in the United States make between $40,000 and $100,000 annually.

The type of agency you work for determines the education requirements, but you will at least need to have a bachelor’s degree. A Ph.D. may be required if you plan to work for a law firm or a higher government agency.

Careers in ​Linguistics: Technical Writer

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Technical writers work with artists, website designers, computer programmers, and graphic designers to create websites and technical documents for clients. Technical writers are often hired by companies or brands to help inform customers about a product or service. They create manuals, whitepapers, and even business memos to help get information out to a lot of people and make it easily understandable.

Technical writers may also work as a freelancer. They typically average between $38,018 and $88,286 a year. Most technical writers have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Some also have a degree in computer programming and a good understanding of different types of publication software. This is just one of the many options for careers in linguistics

Careers in ​Linguistics: Lexicographer

A Lexicographer is someone who writes and edits dictionaries and other language references for native speakers and people who are learning a new language. They learn new words and slang within a language, record those words, and their meanings. They create clear definitions and may also check the accuracy of other documents.

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Most lexicographers make an average salary of $51,000 and $55,000. You will need to have a bachelor’s degree in linguistics or a specific language such as English or Spanish. Some employers may also request other types of particular coursework with an emphasis in various languages.

Careers in ​Linguistics: Become an Actor

Actors are skilled in being able to get the point or message across. They also have to pronounce words and use them properly. Many actors also have to speak in a different language and use different accents. Without a good understanding of different languages and linguistics, they won’t sound natural while acting.

You may also want to consider becoming an acting coach and helping others learn to master these skills so they can improve their acting careers. While most actors aren’t required to have a degree or any kind, it can help to study linguistics in college to get a better understanding of how to use them in the acting industry.

Careers in ​Linguistics: Testing Agencies

Many testing agencies need people who are skilled in linguistics to help them administer and proctor tests. In this career, you may be required to help review tests to make sure the instructions and answers are clear in other languages.

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Testing agencies may hire people who speak or can translate a language or speak it fluently. Testing agencies may also hire freelancers. Testing linguists can make anywhere from $24,000 to $4000 annually. You will need a bachelor’s degree in linguistics or a foreign language. Some agencies may require a master’s degree.

Careers in Linguistics: Why Major In Linguistics?

Many people have a love of language and communicate and choose to pursue a linguistics major because of their passion. Linguistics is considered a science and there are many career options in the industry. You do not have to know a lot of different languages to become successful in linguistics fields, but you do need to know how to interpret languages and translate them to make conversations and content clear for people to understand.

Linguistics majors study various aspects of linguistics including English, foreign languages, composition, computer communication, speech,  anthropology, humanities, and law. If you plan to pursue a specific field such as computational linguistics, you may also need to focus on other types of coursework and classes.

Tips for Improving Your Chance Of Being Successful in your Careers in Linguistics

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The linguistics field can be a competitive one, and if you are serious about being successful in it, you need to do everything possible to be prepared for the career of your choice. Here are some tips to help improve your chances of being successful.

Proper Education

Employers will take into consideration your education and the better your degree, the better your chances of being selected for the job you want. You should attend an accredited school and major in linguistics or foreign language. If you know the job you want requires other coursework or a higher degree, make sure you choose a school that can help you meet the education requirements.

A Good Resume

Once you graduate school, you will need to prepare a resume that highlights your skills and experience. A good resume will help you get hired and allow you to show off your education. Make sure it is neat and clear. If you aren’t comfortable creating a resume yourself, you can always hire someone to help you make one.


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If possible, you want to work in an area that focuses on linguistics as soon as possible. While in school, consider working as a foreign language tutor or another position that doesn’t require a degree but will help you gain some experience in the linguistics field. This will also look good on your resume and make it more likely for you to find a job quickly after graduation.

Continuing Education

Even after you graduate, you will want to continue to take classes, so you stay on top of things that change in the linguistics industry. Languages are always changing, and new works are popping up. You need to stay on top of these things if you are going to be able to translate and create content that can help other people get a better understanding of another language.

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