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 What can I do with a Linguistics degree?

Linguistic knowledge and skills are an asset in many jobs. Some jobs require additional training or skills, so discuss your career plans with our graduate or undergraduate advisors.

  • Foreign language teaching. For bilinguals, studying linguistics builds the understanding of language structure needed for language teaching, including bilingual education.
  • Computational linguistics: create computer systems that deal with human language, such as voice recognition systems, search engines, or translation software.
  • Translation / interpreting. Linguists study structural and stylistic differences between languages, which is helpful in developing translation skills.
  • Corporate language consulting. Language consultant groups offer businesses services such as translation, transcription, editing, language training, and cultural awareness training. A few examples: DSi, World Language Consultants, ALC.
  • Peace Corps. Some universities count Peace Corps service towards a Masters’ degree in Linguistics or TESOL. Peace Corps volunteers often build language skills, which can lead to a career as a language specialist. Two of our faculty (Dr.s Fender and Lord) are returned Peace Corps volunteers.
  • Law. Linguistics is an excellent preparation for law school. Legal cases often turn on the exact interpretation of language in statutes or contracts. Forensic linguists analyze language in crime cases (for example, anonymous communications).
  • Localization (L10N): developing and testing country-specific versions of software, for companies like Blizzard Entertainment. Localization work requires strong foreign language skills, cultural knowledge, and computer skills. Browse specialized job boards for details.
  • Language revitalization. Linguists work with indigenous communities to document endangered languages, create pedagogical materials, and teach the languages to a new generation.
  • Linguistic voice coaching. Linguists with a theater background may do voice coaching in the entertainment industry, helping actors with the phonetics of particular languages, dialects, and foreign accents. Others may offer accent reduction lessons for professionals. For more information, see the Voice and Speech Trainers Association site, or this interview. (A few linguists even create whole new languages for entertainment.)
  • Enter the general educated workforce. Liberal arts majors can take entry-level jobs in a variety of businesses and organizations, and work their way up. As a sales rep or lobbyist or fundraiser or social worker (for example), you probably won’t use your knowledge of allophones and isoglosses, but hopefully your academic work will have made you a better writer, reader, speaker, and thinker, with an ability to adapt and learn new things. If you are not sure what direction your career may go, it never hurts to supplement your major with courses on specific practical skills, such as web design, business, video production, writing, graphic design, or a foreign language.

Where can I find linguistics jobs?

Regularly check the job pages at Linguist List, as well as specialized job boards such as Dave’s ESL Cafe or ProZ (for translators).

Throughout this website (and this one) are links to companies that employ linguists. Browse even those you don’t think you’re interested in. Often a single company hires linguists in multiple roles. For example, a company listed under Computational Linguistics might also be looking for translators, or a translation company may also offer language courses or accent reduction services.

Finally, network. The job market is very relational, and often jobs are found through word of mouth rather than formal job postings. You can network through attending conferences, socializing at departmental events, being active in the Linguistics Student Association and other campus groups, volunteering, interning, and anything else where you meet people and have a chance to discuss what they do for a living.