While a degree in linguistics does not prepare graduates for a particular job, it opens the door to many possible careers. Students who study linguistics develop analytical and organizational skills. They also study phonetics and phonology, which helps them develop techniques and skills for understanding the structure and organization of languages, while honing their research, oral and written communication skills. Armed with a linguistics degree, graduates can pursue several career options, although some options require additional education.
Speech Language Pathologists
Speech language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, earned $72,730 according to May 2012 salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The educational requirement for this profession is a master’s degree in speech pathology, and, although a particular undergraduate degree is not specified, a linguistics degree provides a sound foundation in the development of the spoken word. Speech language pathologists diagnose patients with speech and language problems, identify treatment plans and teach patients how to create sounds. The job outlook for these professionals is projected to grow by 23 percent through 2020, which is much faster than the 14 percent growth rate predicted for all other U.S. occupations.
May 2012 salary data from the BLS indicates that writers earned $68,420. While many writers have a degree in English, journalism or communications, a linguistics degree also provides a background in the structure and organization of languages, which is essential to the craft of writing. Graduates may find employment opportunities creating content for websites, magazines and books, in addition to composing song lyrics and writing scripts for TV and radio production. Writing jobs will increase by 6 percent through 2020.
Postsecondary English language and literature teachers earned $66,980 according to May 2012 salary data, while postsecondary foreign language teachers and literature teachers made $66,730. College-level English language and literature teachers instruct students in linguistics and other aspects of the English language. Foreign language instructors teach such subjects as French, German, Spanish and Italian on a college level. Most postsecondary teachers need a Ph.D. in the subject area, although a master’s degree is sufficient for community colleges. The BLS does not keep specific job outlook data for postsecondary English and foreign language literature teachers, but demand for overall postsecondary teachers is 17 percent through 2020.
Interpreters and Translators
As of May 2012, interpreters and translators earned $53,410, reports the BLS. These professionals generally need a degree, but not in a particular subject, and the most important factor is the ability to speak English and another language. Interpreting and translating is a good career choice for linguistics majors who speak an additional language, since they already have a strong foundation in the rules of language structure. This helps them to fluently interpret spoken words and seamlessly translate written words. Through 2020, demand for interpreters and translators will increase by 42 percent.