Occupational Possibilities

The study of linguistics is superb preparation for work in a wide variety of fields where skill in the production and interpretation of language from a cultural standpoint is central—in business, communication, or government and public service, for example. Many linguistics majors go on to graduate study in law, psychology, languages, and other fields. For additional information regarding Linguistics, why major in Linguistics, and careers in Linguistics please see Linguistic Society of America's "Why major in Linguistics".  You can also contact KU Career Services for assistance/guidance.

The following list of occupations pursued by linguistics majors offers a glimpse of the wide-ranging career paths for which the major provides preparation. This list was compiled from national data and from Major Options by Nicholas Basta (1991, New York: The Stonesong Press), which is available for use at University Career and Employment Services. For some of the occupations listed below, such as teacher of English as a second language, additional skills and/or related training may be necessary. Additional graduate study is generally expected for some of the occupations the following list:

Occupation Possibilities

GovernmentBusiness/IndustryEducation/ResearchHuman Services
U.S. Agency for International Development officerPublisher representativeProfessor*Speech pathologist*
Cryptographic specialistTravel agentTeacher of English as a second language (TESL)Caseworker, protective services
State reference librarianIntelligence systems designerSchool psychologistPhysician
Legislative aideMarket research analystUniversity research scientistAgency program manager
Policy analystOverseas trade representativeInternational student advisorChild development specialist
Speechwriter/press liaisonInformation systems managerMuseum educational program coordinatorClergy
City managerSpeech synthesis specialistLexicographerAdvocate (e.g. aging, ethnic groups, etc.)
U.S. Census Bureau researcherTechnical writerEditorAttorney
 JournalistMarket researcherJob counselor
 Salesperson Human resources manager
 Bank administrator  
 Computer programmer  

Skills and Abilities

The skills and abilities one learns as a linguistics major can be more generally applied to any career requiring expertise in the use of language as a means of communication. For example, despite their differing responsibilities, librarians, computer programmers, and legislative aides all use their skill with language and the ability to synthesize theories on a regular basis to perform their jobs. Representative skills and abilities of holders of degrees in linguistics are listed below.

Skills and Abilities
Emphasizing a global perspectiveListening/reading for meaning and social useReading criticallyObserving people/data
Relating language to social contextApplying knowledge about languageIdentifying patternsSynthesizing novel theories
Identifying relationships between language groupsUnderstanding historical language changeAnalyzing discourseAcknowledging historical perspectives
Adapting to/functioning in other culturesWriting clearlyEvaluating evidenceWorking with research subjects
Working with persons from other backgroundsInforming/explaining ideasWeighing valuesIdentifying areas for research
 Presenting information effectivelyComparing interpretationsApplying methodologies from many disciplines