Job Description of a Linguistics Specialist

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a linguistics specialist. Get a quick view of the educational requirements as well as details about the job description and employment options to find out if this is the career for you.

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Linguistics specialists conduct in-depth research and studies about language. Their duties often vary, depending on the employer, but most linguistics specialists try to gain a better understanding of how words and sounds have evolved over time, or how these words may be related to other languages, both ancient and modern. The required education for this profession is typically a Ph.D. degree in applied linguistics.

Essential Information

Linguistic specialists study the meanings and evolution of words, sounds and languages. They typically are employed by the government, colleges and universities or private companies to shed light on the complex nature of diction. In general, a high level of education is needed to work with language, and many specialists hold a Ph.D. in the field.

Required Education A master's degree or, preferably, a Ph.D. degree in applied linguistics
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 13% (for Postsecondary Teachers)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $61,990 (for Postsecondary English Language and Literature Teachers)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Comparative Literature
  • Language Translation
  • Linguistics

Linguistic Specialist Job Description

Linguistic specialists perform a variety of language-based studies, experiments and consultations. This might include tracing the history of a word or sound or searching for relationships between ancient, foreign and modern languages. While duties can vary greatly depending on what a linguistic specialist is trying to achieve, all jobs in this field revolve around extensively studying words and sounds and trying to develop an overall understanding of language.

Employment Options for Linguistic Specialists

Many linguistic specialists work for different sectors of the government, helping to compile knowledge of language for purposes varying from historical examinations to code breaking. Linguistic specialists also can be found at most colleges and universities, where they might teach classes in linguistics, research and present new ideas in the field or both. English language and literature teachers, including linguists, earned a median salary of $61,990 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment prospects in postsecondary teaching were expected to be good overall, with a 13% growth rate predicted for 2014-2024, as reported by the BLS.

Linguistic specialists also might find work as consultants in the private sector. For example, marketing firms and publishing companies sometimes hire linguistic specialists to give advice on what language to use in advertising and promotions or to help predict trends in pronunciation, slang or diction. Additionally, high-tech companies might bring on linguistic specialists to help develop speech recognition software, check for proper grammar or provide a better understanding of how language is affected by computer use.

Linguistic Specialist Education Requirements

Educational requirements for linguistic specialists generally vary by employer, but a minimum of a bachelor's degree in linguistics is essential. Working for the government or as a consultant with a private company often requires completion of an applied linguistics master's program with a specific track that aligns with the needs of one's employer. To teach linguistics at a college or university or to conduct research in the field, a linguistic specialist typically must hold a Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics.

A linguistics specialist can work in a number of industries, including academia, government, and private enterprise. In some cases a master's degree is a sufficient education for a linguistics specialist, however many employers prefer that this degree is specifically related to their organizational objectives.

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