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" website.  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 those occupations marked with a * on the following list.

Government Business/Industry Education/Research Human Services
U.S. Agency for International Development officer Publisher representative Professor Speech pathologist
Cryptographic specialist Travel agent Teacher of English as a second language (TESL) Caseworker, protective services
State reference librarian Intelligence systems designer School psychologist Physician
Legislative aide Market research analyst University research scientist Agency program manager
Policy analyst Overseas trade representative Human resources trainer Child development specialist
Speechwriter/press liaison Information systems manager International student advisor Clergy
City manager Speech synthesis specialist Museum educational program coordinator Advocate (e.g. aging, ethnic groups)
U.S. Census Bureau researcher Technical writer Lexicographer Attorney
  Journalist Editor Job counselor
  Salesperson content 3 Human resources manager
  Bank administrator Marketing researcher  
  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.

Cross-Cultural Communication Analysis Research
Emphasizing a global perspective Listening/reading for meaning and social use Reading critically Observing people/data
Relating language to social context Applying knowledge about language Identifying patterns Synthesizing novel theories
Identifying relationships between language groups Understanding historical language change Analyzing discourse Acknowledging historical perspectives
Adapting to/functioning in other cultures Writing clearly Evaluating evidence Working with research subjects
Working with persons from other backgrounds Informing/explaining ideas Weighing values Identifying areas for research
  Presenting information effectively Comparing interpretations Applying methodologies from many dis


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