This post was most recently updated on October 23rd, 2023
[A collaboration post with Day Translations – all thoughts are my own.]
Are you studying linguistics degree? Or maybe, searching for jobs for a linguistics degree?
Five years ago, in 2017, I graduated with a degree in English literature. Prior to that, I had begun working as a freelance translator in 2014, a profession I continue to pursue to this day. After completing my degree, I spent a year working as an English teacher for children before transitioning to a marketing position with a foreign (Polish) company based in Bali.
In early 2019, I took on the role of an assistant manager at a Russian start-up company in Bali. All of these positions have a strong connection to the English language, allowing me to apply the knowledge I gained during my studies in English Literature.
So, if you’re currently pursuing a linguistics degree and haven’t solidified your career plans just yet, don’t fret. A linguistics degree is an exceptionally versatile qualification, opening up numerous career possibilities for graduates like you.
What is a linguistics degree?
Linguistics is the study of languages and the technical aspects of how they’re used in different ways across communities. For example, how to use English in the areas of tourism, journalism, politics, etc. Students who major in linguistics typically earn a Bachelor of Arts degree that trains them in the basics and complicated concepts that surround language.
Some courses that linguistics students might take include phonetics, morphology, syntax, and historical linguistics. Well, I learned a lot about these courses and it’s really complicated for someone who uses English as a second or third language, like me. All of these can inform your understanding of your own language as well as how other languages in different locations function differently or in similar ways.
Jobs for a linguistics degree
Linguistics graduates go into jobs where they can use their knowledge of linguistics directly, such as working as proofreaders and translators. Others train as language therapists, teachers or find work teaching English as a foreign or second language.
Your linguistics degree sets you up for careers ranging from marketing and publishing to speech and language therapy. Here are six of my favorite jobs for a linguistics degree.
A linguist is a specialist who evaluates different aspects of language. Linguists might specialize in a particular language or a concept of languages, like history or syntax. Many linguists also work for companies that provide editing services for written documents and can help with details like localization, grammar, and sentence structure.
A copy editor is a writing professional who edits and written documents for accuracy. Copy editors can proofread text for grammar, correct syntax, sentence structure, and can edit documents to improve their clarity. Many copy editors produce large amounts of content or marketing materials, but they can also work for written publications, advertising agencies, or on a freelance basis.
A translator is a linguistic professional who translates text and communications from one language to another. Translators are typically experts in at least two languages, but many translators have expertise in a wide variety of languages – some translators that I know are experts in three languages.
A translator might work for a government agency, public facility, or in any position that works with people who speak multiple languages to facilitate communication and provide translations for written documents, oral conversations, and more.
Working in translation, you’ll be expected to churn out 2,000 to 3,000 words every day. I had a two-year contract (2019-2020) to translate online stories. I’m used to translating at least 2,500 words per day – it could be more if I have to meet a deadline at the end of the month.
Your typical day will involve contacting clients or agencies, consulting specialist dictionaries, and using reference books or resources to find precise translations. Whether freelance or in-house, you’ll typically be expected to specialize in one area (such as commerce, healthcare, law, literature, or science).
A language specialist is a professional who translates languages through interpretation and transcription. Language specialists can interpret verbal communications and translate them from one language to another. They might also transcribe verbal communications into written text, either in the same language that it’s spoken in or in another language.
Foreign language teacher
A foreign language teacher is an educator who helps students learn a new language, such as my Japanese teacher or French teacher who taught me in my second year of college. Foreign language teachers can work with classes that contain multiple students or with individual students on a one-on-one basis.
A foreign language teacher can instruct students on aspects of a language like a vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, and pronunciation while speaking, all of which can contribute to mastering a new language.
A copywriter is a writer who creates content for businesses and organizations. Copywriters typically write content that is designed to encourage customers to purchase a company’s products or use its services. This can include social media content, newsletter, online articles, press releases, and marketing materials.
Most copywriters work for large corporations or companies that engage in a lot of marketing, but copywriters can also work for copywriting firms or on a freelance basis.
Are you currently studying for a linguistics degree and plans for your future? Let me know below what other jobs for a linguistics degree you want to add here.