Students who choose to study linguistics usually have a natural curiosity about languages. They need strong critical thinking and communication skills. Their studies teach them about the rules that govern language. They also gain an understanding of how language relates to behavior and knowledge. Linguistics is a versatile qualification with many career choices after graduation.
What is Linguistics?
Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Linguistics majors study how languages evolve and how they compare. They also study the structural parts of languages. Linguistics is concerned with both the social and cognitive aspects of language. It’s the study of the human capacity to organize thought and communicate.
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Common Linguistics Coursework
Many schools in the U.S, such as Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offer linguistics majors. MIT offers both undergraduate and graduate linguistics courses. Here are some core areas linguistics students will cover in their first year.
- Introduction to linguistics
- Phonology: Study of patterns and systems of speech sounds
- Morphology: Study of word structure
- Pragmatics: Study of language in context
- Syntax: study of sentence structures.
- Semantics: study of word meanings.
- Phonetics: Study of the sound of words
The coursework is interdisciplinary. Students may also take classes in fields like psychology, philosophy, English or anthropology.
Skills valued by Employers
Linguistic students learn certain skills in the course of their studies that many employers find valuable.
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Qualitative and quantitative research methodologies
- Collection and interpretation of data
- Proficiency in data analysis techniques
- Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
- IT skills
Jobs for Linguistics Majors
Jobs for linguistic graduates are available in a variety of different fields. They may be employed in companies such as:
- Educational institutions
- Public relations companies
- Publishing organizations
- Law firms
- Media outlets
- Research firms
- IT firms
- Government agencies
- Consultancy firms
Linguistics majors may work as translators or interpreters. Some of them get certificates to teach English as a second language. They may also pursue advanced degrees in speech therapy or speech pathology. Some go on to graduate school and go into business, medicine or law. There are also opportunities in computer programming and information technology. They may become involved in areas like language software development or voice recognition.
Top Careers for Linguistics Graduates
Most linguistics graduates become teachers, especially teachers of English as a foreign language. Others become marketing executives. Childcare support occupations are also popular. Many linguistic graduates become speech and language therapists. They may become copywriters or editors. Some get involved in academic research. Others enter the media world. Linguists are currently in high demand in the fields of IT, public relations, advertising and mass communications.
What are Linguists Paid?
Not all linguistics jobs offer high pay. Here are some of the highest-paid linguistic jobs.
- Computational linguists earn a median annual salary of $94,346 per year.
- Professors earn a median annual salary of $66,916 per year.
- Lawyer-linguists earn a median annual salary of $77,687 per year.
- Forensic linguists earn a median annual salary of $75,581 per year. Lexicographers earn a median annual salary of $67,313 per year.
- Accent coaches earn a median annual salary of $59,786 per year.
- Translators earn a median annual salary of $56,272 per year.
The highest-paid jobs are usually the most sought-after linguistic careers. Another factor that plays a role in making a job attractive is its flexibility.
Computational linguists are in demand at institutions in the tech arena, like software brands. Professors who teach linguistics usually require at least a Master’s Degree or Ph.D. A lawyer linguist is usually a linguist graduate with a law degree. A forensic linguist helps to solve crimes using language analysis. Lexicographers need a degree, and they search specialist databases to compile dictionaries.
If you decide to become a linguist, there is a wide range of choices when it comes to a career. There are many different fields you can work in, from education to business. Some linguistic jobs do not require much training, whereas others require at least eight years of a college education. The pay also varies significantly, depending on the training that’s necessary.