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7 Jobs for Graduates with a Linguistics Degree

7 Jobs for Graduates with a Linguistics Degree  main image

If you’re studying a linguistics degree but still haven’t made any serious career plans, don’t worry. A linguistics degree is an extremely versatile qualification to graduate with, so there are plenty of top career options available to you. Here are seven of our favorite jobs for graduates with a linguistics degree.

Computational linguist in the tech industry

The job: An interdisciplinary field combining computing and rule-based modeling of natural language, computational linguistics can solve problems in many areas, including artificial intelligence, machine translation, natural language interfaces, document processing, grammar and style checking, and computer-assisted language learning.

Salary: As a computational linguist, you could expect to work for blue chip companies, labs, universities or big software brands and earn an average salary of US$$77,511 in the US and £42,640 (~US$60,500) in the UK.

Specifications: You’ll need to follow your undergraduate linguistics degree with a master’s degree in computational linguistics or a related field, and gain knowledge of programming. In some cases, a foreign language may also be necessary.

Linguistics professor

The job: Pursue an academic career and use your expert knowledge to teach in university departments such as linguistics, philosophy, psychology, speech and communication sciences or anthropology.

Salary: This will really depend on your years of experience and the country and establishment in which you decide to teach. A lecturer in the US with less than a year’s experience could expect to earn on average between US$32,000 and $46,850 , while a professor with more than 10 years of experience could hope to earn between US$65,141 and $160,000 with bonuses included.

In the UK, a junior lecturer could hope to earn on average between £33,943 and £41,709 (~US$48,200-59,200), while a professor with more experience might make between £41,709 and £107,244 (~$59,200-152,200). Bear in mind you’ll need to fund about six to seven years of study before cashing in your first pay check – though you may be able to obtain a funded PhD place.

Specifications: For academic roles, you’ll need to complete a master’s degree, PhD, and in some cases also a professional teaching certificate.

Translator

The job: Working in translation, you’ll be expected to churn out 2,000 to 3,000 words every day. Your typical day will involve liaising with clients, consulting specialist dictionaries and using reference books to find precise translations for industry jargon. Whether freelance or in-house, you’ll typically be expected to specialize in one area (such as commerce, education, law, literature or science).

Salary: Starting salaries for translators are calculated based on word count and degree of specialism and vary based on your employer. The average translator in the US earns between US$25,370 and $46,120, while in the UK the figures drop to £18,000 and £40,000 (~US$25,550-$56,800.

Specifications: A degree and thorough knowledge of two languages in addition to your mother tongue are expected. A postgraduate qualification, such as an MA in translation, could significantly increase your chances of getting hired, especially within international bodies.

Teach a foreign language

The job: As a foreign language teacher, you’ll spend your days preparing lesson plans, marking student work, ordering material, instructing pupils either one-to-one or in the classroom, liaising with parents and attending administrative meetings. You’ll be expected to impart your pupils with a degree of proficiency in a new language, as well as knowledge of the culture, history and culture of the language in question.

Salary: This would again depend on your experience and location. UK salaries for a high school teacher range between £22,194 and £35,409 (~US$31,500-$50,300) depending on the city and years of experience, while US salaries fluctuate between US$33,422 and $74,562 based on skill, experience and city.

Specifications: You’ll need a bachelor’s degree with evidence of classes and extensive coursework in your chosen language as well as completion of a teacher-education program or a PGCE if in the UK.

Forensic linguist

The job: Forensic linguists perform language analysis on emergency calls, suicide letters, threat communication and social media during legal proceedings for law firms, the police and/or the government, in order to help solve crimes.

Other areas you may be involved in as a forensic linguist include trademark disputes, author identification and language analyses of asylum seekers. Forensic linguists working with the CIA or FBI in the US work on matters of national security. While the average forensic linguist works a regular nine to five, those working with governments may have to work slightly more irregular hours.

Salary: One of the main perks of the job is that your salary can stack up high, with the average forensic linguist in the US making somewhere between US$40,000 and $100,000. In the UK, you can expect to earn between £25,000 and 35,000 (~US$35,500-49,700), with experienced forensic linguists earning up to £60,000 (~US$85,250).

Specifications: You’ll need a bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in linguistics, as well as knowledge of legal procedures.

Technical writer

The job: Technical writers produce content in close collaboration with graphic designers, user experience designers, software developers and testers. The role chiefly involves collecting information, planning content and writing technical documentation to educate consumers about a product or service in the form of manuals, whitepapers, business correspondence, et cetera.

Working hours are usually a regular nine to five, though schedules may vary based on deadlines. Flexible work (freelance or home-based) is possible once you have gained more experience.

Salary: US salaries range between US$38,018 and $88,286, depending on the city, experience, skill and employer, while in the UK, a technical writer will earn between £19,793 and £48,657 (~US$28,100-$69,100) based on skill, city and experience.

Specifications: A bachelor’s degree in IT, communications, English or journalism is needed, as well as knowledge of publication software such as Word, Adobe, Photoshop, Paint, and CSS.

Lexicographer

The job: Lexicographers write, compile and edit dictionaries for native speakers, learners of English, professionals and bilingual speakers. They monitor and record new words and check the accuracy of their own texts, performing a wealth of editorial tasks.

Salary: UK salaries may range between £18,000 and £45,000 (~US$25,550-$63,900), while US salaries fluctuate somewhere between US$51,000 and $55,000.

Specifications: A degree in linguistics, English, modern languages, history/politics, or classics will be needed. A postgraduate qualification in foreign languages or linguistics may also be useful for aspiring bilingual lexicographers.

For those aspiring to work on English teaching titles, some previous work experience teaching English as a foreign language may be essential. Some essential general skills needed for the role include an excellent command of English, grammar, an eye for detail and time management.

All salaries listed here are estimates only, gathered from PayScale.com, Indeed.com, Prospects.co.uk, GlassDoor.com and government websites. 

This article was originally published in May 2016. It was updated in March 2018 with the latest salary information.

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Anthony C, Stephen Charles K & 23 others saved this
Written by Mathilde Frot
I'm originally French but I grew up in Casablanca, Kuala Lumpur and Geneva. When I'm not writing for QS, you'll usually find me sipping espresso(s) with a good paperback.

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4 Comments

Hi , This is Mona from Egypt living in China since March 2006 . I completed my PHD from Beijing language and culture university in China 2012 in literature and linguistics in Chinese language , i speak fluent Chinese , English and my mother tongue is Arabic as well . I was looking for job in Dubai related to teaching Chinese language at university or translation . For your information i have experience in teaching because I did work as a professor at helwan university in Cairo for two years and also I am the official interpreter for commonwealth society of Beijing . I am looking for any job related to languages . Thanks

hello! i imran ullah from Pakistan. i completed my B.s hons from university in Literature and Linguistics with relevant research. how can i get a good job for me in my life in foreign cuntry?

Do you happen to know if Copy-editing is a suitable career path for those who have a Linguistics BA?

Hi! My name is nilesh and I have received BA in English language and literature.which subject should I achieve master's degree with and where..... from? because of that I will be able to get a good job.

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