Careers with a Linguistics Degree


A bachelor’s degree in linguistics is not meant to provide you with professional training for specific careers. There is however, a lot you can do with this broad, interdisciplinary degree.



What You Can Do with a Linguistics Degree

As a student majoring linguistics, you'll have the opportunity develop skills in analytical reasoning, critical thinking, argumentation, and clarity of expression. These skills will help serve as an excellent foundation for a variety of graduate-level and professional programs, as well as a wide variety of professional fields.


To find out more about what career options you'll have when you graduate, read on below. We've put together lists of careers that are directly and indirectly related to this field, which include helpful information for path, such as salary expectations, possible types of employers, actual job postings, as well as what skills and other qualifications you'll need.





What a Linguistics Program Teaches You

Linguistics is the scientific study of language and its structure, including the study of morphology, syntax, phonetics, and semantics. Linguistics programs in Canada and the United States typically enable you to explore and examine such various areas of linguistic interest, such as:


• How language acquired, both by in childhood and adulthood

• The structural properties of languages

• How language is processed in the brain and in the mind

• How people produce and receive speech

• How languages change over time

• How similar and different the languages of the world are


In order to explore these topics, the study of linguistics draws on methods and knowledge from a wide range of scholarly subject matter, such as biology, psychology, sociology, engineering and physics.


As a result of making use of these knowledge sets and methods, you may find yourself performing such varied tasks as poring over a medieval text to find evidence of how English grammar has changed over time, or learning about how the larynx creates sound energy for speech.


Linguistics as a whole differs from the study of a specific language, in that it provides terminology and techniques for understanding the structure of any language. By studying phonetics and phonology, for example, you learn how to produce a wide variety of sounds and a general way to categorize language sounds.



Employable Skills You Can Gain for Relevant Careers

As a result of your studies in this area, you'll learn a set of skills that is specific to the subject matter. These skills apply to careers that are directly related to your degree, and they include:


• Ability to construct abstract grammatical models

• Ability to create and test alternative hypotheses

• Familiarity with a wide range of languages

• In-depth knowledge of language structures

• Facility in dealing with linguistic data, regardless of specific language​



List of Careers Relevant to a Linguistics Degree

While not considered professional training for any specific careers, pursuing a degree in linguistics prepares you for jobs where general knowledge about language, “logical thinking”, and/or skill in one or more foreign languages are useful.


Careers fields that directly apply abilities involving language and speech, but for which additional professional training may be necessary, include:


• Computational Linguist

• English Teacher Abroad

• ESL Teacher

• Foreign Language Instructor

• Language Assessor

• Lexicographer

• Linguist

• Linguistic Anthropologist

• Philologist

• Research Assistant

• Speech Therapist

• Speech-Language Pathologist

• Translator

• University Professor





Transferrable Skills You’ll Develop for Other Careers

As graduate of your studies in this field, your capacity to learn and explore subjects is proven to be excellent. Because of this, you will make a competent employee in almost any industry, not just in careers where skills in linguistics are mandatory.


• Qualitative researching abilities

• Written an verbal communications skills

• Time management skills

• Able to logically construct arguments

• Ability to think critically

• Ability to meet tight deadlines

• Ability to recognize quality information

• Facility in analyzing linguistic data, regardless of specific language



List of Indirectly Related Careers

Not interested in a career in the field of linguistics? Want to try your hand at something else? That’s okay! Because of the transferable skills you can gain, a major in this field gives you a valuable background in many other fields where linguistic skills have a less direct application.


• Airline Customer Service Agent

• Anthropologist

• Archaeologist

• Audiologist

• Bilingual Client Care Representative

• Bilingual Services Coordinator

• Bilingual Tour Consultant

• Biographer

• Blogger

• Book Review Editor

• Citizenship and Immigration Officer

• Criminologist

• Cryptologist

• Cultural Administrator

• Customer Service Representative

• Elder Care Worker

• Elementary School Teacher

• Facilitator

• Field Service Agent

• Flight Attendant

• Foreign Exchange Trader

• Game Tester

• Historian

• Importer/Exporter

• Intelligence Analyst

• International Aid Worker

• International Business Consultant

• Librarian

• Literacy Program Coordinator

• Military Officer

• Multicultural Development Officer

• Police Officer

• Proofreader

• Publisher

• Radio Program Producer

• Recreation and Leisure Supervisor

• Speech Writer

• Technical Writer

• Tour Guide

• Tourism Officer

• Travel Agent


Please Note: Many of the above careers require additional education, training, and experience. Click on careers you’re interested in to find out more about the specific education and training requirements.



Who Hires Graduates?

As a linguistics graduate, you are likely to be able to find at least entry-level work with the following types of organizations:


• Translation firms

• Government agencies

• Publishers

• Public & private schools

• Universities & colleges

• Community centres

• Newspapers & magazines

• Software companies

• Health & rehabilitation centres

• Cultural Institutes

• Language schools

• Acting schools, studios, & theatre organizations

• Media outlets

• Computer training schools

• International organizations

• Advertising agencies

• Financial institutions



Increase Your Marketability with a Second Major

Have you considered the possibility of a double major to make your linguistic work part of an interdisciplinary program of study? Having a double major can widen your skill set, thus making you more marketable to employers.


A secondary specialization in one of the following areas can complement a major in linguistics nicely:


• Cognitive psychology

• Cognitive science

• Philosophy

• Anthropology

• Computer science

• Communications 






Salary Level of Linguistics Grads

You may be curious as to what salary you can earn as a linguistics graduate first entering the work force. The truth is, your salary could vary drastically, so much so that it's nearly a moot point to make mention of it.


But the truth is also that we need to put food on the table, and you may be curious as to how much food you'll be able to put on said table. Well, it's fairly complicated, the amount you could earn is heavily dependent on the following factors (not an inclusive list):


• The specific profession you pursue

• Your level of education (such as if you went on to graduate studies)

• The industry in which you find work

• The size and type of your employer

• Whether you're self-employed or work for someone else

• The region in which you work

• Other work experience you may have accrued

• Other skills you may have

• Many other factors...


Linguistics Graduate Salary Canada: According to a study in 2011 conducted by the Ontario Council of Universities, $43,468 CAD is the average salary earned by Social Science graduates, 2 years after graduating from Ontario universities in 2008.


This figure is a composite of all graduates who earned a Bachelor’s degree in “Social Science”, not specifically for linguistics graduates. Unfortunately similar statistics for other Canadian provinces and the United States cannot be found from reputable sources.



Relevant Scholarships

Are you a linguistics major looking for help paying for school? Search our Linguistics Scholarships page for relevant scholarships, awards and bursaries.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.



Professional Associations

To find out more about careers related to your linguistics degree, consult the following professional association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have job boards that advertise job openings.



Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing

Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics

Canadian Linguistics Association


United States

American Association for Applied Linguistics

Linguistic Society of America

The Association for Computational Linguistics



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