Graduates of linguistics degrees have a number of career pathways from which they can choose. Many opt to continue to graduate-level study, which is necessary for entering into many specialized linguistics careers, but this is not essential for all pathways. Linguistics careers are incredibly varied, ranging from academic roles to literary ones, and from science-based speech therapy to the slightly more left-field career of voice coaching.
Linguistics graduates wanting to enter the education sector will likely need to gain additional qualifications such as a teaching qualification (to teach in primary and secondary education), a master’s degree to work within tertiary education and even a PhD to conduct if you want to conduct your own academic research.
For linguistics careers which you will be able to go into with just an undergraduate degree (plus a little job-specific experience or on-the-job training), consider media and publishing roles, other education roles within libraries or museums, public relations, language consultancy or even speech therapy roles.
Linguistics careers in language tuition
Other than traditional teaching routes, there are also opportunities to teach languages to those who are not native speakers, such as for those enrolled on a paid language course or within a different country entirely. There’s particularly high demand for tutors in global languages such as English and Spanish. Although the pay is often minimal, the opportunity provides a chance for graduates to explore different cultures and get teaching experience abroad, often without the need for a foreign language qualification.
Linguistics careers in language consultancy
Language consultants work within consultancies, agencies and individual businesses in order to help corporations use language appropriately. The role requires strong communication skills and the ability to perceive how different uses of language can affect customers and audiences. Often language consultants are hired in order to help sell products to specific markets, but they are also used in order to present sensitive situations using appropriate language, for business and within the workplace itself.
Linguistics careers in translation and interpretation
If you are bilingual, you may consider working in translation or interpretation. Although similar, translation is the act of converting written material from one language to another, while interpretation is the act of converting spoken communication from one language to another. Linguistics graduates with good writing abilities may opt for the former, while graduates with strong verbal communication skills may opt for the latter. These roles are good careers for those who study linguistics, as the developed knowledge of language helps to avoid miscommunication while conveying specific and implied meanings. Many translators and interpreters work as freelancers, but working within an agency or big organization is also an option.
Linguistics careers in speech and language therapy
As a speech and language therapist (or SLT) you will be working with people of all ages, including infants, children, and adults, in order to help support those with language and communication problems of varying severity. A speech and language therapist may also be involved with people who have problems eating, drinking or swallowing. Your role as a language therapist will be to assess the needs of your individual clients and to develop a treatment program in order to improve their condition. As well as working closely with your client, who may have physical and learning disabilities and/or other medical conditions such as dementia, you be working closely with the relatives or carers of your client to help treat the problem.
Often a speech and language therapist will work as part of team of other health professionals including doctors, nurses, psychologists and other specialized therapists.
Linguistics careers in lexicography
The role of a lexicographer is to write, edit and compile dictionaries for publication – both in print or online. If your linguistics degree focused mainly on the English language, you will be working with English dictionaries, either for native speakers or learners of the language. There is also the option to work as a technical lexicographer, where you will be involved in publishing technical language dictionaries, for the legal sector for instance.
If you studied more than one language during your linguistics degree, or are bilingual, then you may be interested in working with bilingual dictionaries used for translation purposes.
Alternative linguistics careers
Then there are all the other graduate-level jobs in which the skills gained from a linguistics degree – a combination of the critical, abstract thinking of humanities disciplines and the analytical skills and precision which come from the scientific side – are in high demand. Subjects such as teaching, PR and work in the NGO sector are all options which university linguistics graduates might also consider, as are banking, administration and information or archive management.