Skip to content
Home » Career » Conquer the World of Language Talking with an Expert Career in Linguistics!

Conquer the World of Language Talking with an Expert Career in Linguistics!

Career in Linguistics

Do you love your language courses and truly feel interested in studying languages all your life even though you have an analytical brain? Do you belong to a rare group of youngsters who think grammar is not boring? Are you looking for a career that is beyond the horizon of the popular science, engineering and commerce careers? Do you really enjoy reading books for hours at a stretch? If the answers to all the above are an emphatic ‘yes’, then you may think of a career in Linguistics, a very important but not commonly pursued field with quite a few opportunities across diverse areas of occupations.

Linguists study the origin, evolution and development of languages to apply their knowledge in real-life and business situations such as the interpretation of historical documents, deciphering the encrypted or coded text, development of natural language processing computer software, and interpretation of written/spoken foreign languages. Linguist study to understand how people learn speech and languages, how do they use languages to communicate and how languages vary over cultures, communities, regions, and countries.

Why Become a Linguist?

You will study languages – how different languages originated, how they evolved over the ages, the different properties of speech and languages, and how they change and develop. You will apply your knowledge in various areas – from History and Anthropology to Sociology and Computer Science.  

As a Linguist, you will research and study about the following areas and many other areas:

  • Phonetics – Phonetics is the study of the sound of human speech. It is concerned with the actual human sounds, and how they are produced and perceived.
  • Phonology – Phonology deals with how different sounds of speech are organized systematically to form and convey what one wants to say.
  • Syntax – Syntax deals with how words and phrases are arranged and structured using grammatical rules to form meaningful sentences.
  • Semantics – It deals with the study of semiotics which is the science of conveying meaning through signs, symbols, analogies and metaphors. It studies how meaning is conveyed in languages by use of words, signs and symbols.
  • Pragmatics – It is a part of semantics and involves the study of context or situation which influences the meaning of spoken and written languages.
  • Morphology – It studies how words are formed and their relationship to other words. For example, it examines the structure of words- the prefixes, suffixes, root words etc.
  • Discourse analysis – This involves the analysis of discourses in languages- written, spoken or sign languages.

Computational Linguists help develop various algorithms and software for natural language processing – such as speech recognition, speech-to-text, text-to-speech, speech synthesis, etc. They are involved in developing Artificial Intelligence in the processing of human languages.

Discover More by accessing the Free Career Dashboard

This will help us share relevant information with you.

What Does a Linguist do?

As a Linguist, you can be engaged in any one and more of the following roles and responsibilities:

  • You will study and research in your specialized area of Linguist to publish research papers on theories of Linguistic or applications of linguistics in different fields such as Cryptology, Natural Language Processing (an area of Computational Science), Human Development, etc.
  • You will work with Computer Scientists and Engineers to help them develop speech recognition software, text-to-speech software, algorithms for developing Artificial Intelligence in human language processing, and so on.
  • You will help government departments, defense forces, and business enterprises interpret foreign language; help intelligence agencies to decipher coded language; help police and investigative agencies in interpreting communication of alleged criminals to gather evidence.
  • You will Help Historians and Archaeologists in interpreting ancient languages; help Anthropologists in understanding a tribal language; help Development Workers to use appropriate languages to communicate with a community or tribe.
  • Teaching regional and foreign languages to students and others.
  • Compile terminology and information to be used in translations, including technical terms such as those for legal or medical material.
  • And many other works related to the interpretation of language.

How to Become a Linguist – Eligibility Criteria

Undergraduate studies after school

To be a Linguist, after your school, you can study for an undergraduate degree in any Language or in Linguistics. In India, very few undergraduate degrees in Linguistics are available. But if possible, you can study in UK, USA, Australia and other countries. Many undergraduate programs in Linguistics or a dual degree program in a Language and Linguistics are available in Universities in these countries.

It may make better sense to complete an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree in a language, preferably in English or a Foreign Language or an ancient Language like Sanskrit and Pali. You can also study a modern Indian Language at the undergraduate level.

Alternatively, you can also study for an undergraduate degree in Physics, Biological Sciences (such as Physiology and Zoology), Mathematics, Computer Science, or Anthropology. Even, if you have a bachelor’s degree in Engineering/Medicine, you can switch to a career in linguistics after doing an M.A. and Ph.D. in a specialized area of linguistics. 

Post Graduate Studies

As a career in Linguistics requires specialized and even super specialized knowledge, you must have a Post Graduate/Graduate Degree (as they call it in USA and Canada) in Linguistics/Applied  Linguistics with a specialization in an area of your choice such as Computational  Linguistics, Psycholinguistics, Phonetics & Phonology, Clinical Linguistics, Developmental Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, etc.

You can do a Post Graduate Program in Linguistics after having an undergraduate or Bachelor’s degree in the areas mentioned under ‘undergraduate studies after school’.

Pre-Doctoral and Doctoral Studies:

Let’s put it straight. To have a really rewarding career in Linguistics, you will need a Ph.D. But in certain applied areas such as Computational Linguistic, Translation and Interpretation, etc. as well as in teaching, you can do with a Post Graduate/Graduate (as in USA, and Canada) degree. But the excitement in opportunities begins after your Ph.D. Before a Ph.D., you can do an M.Phil. as well.

Job Opportunities

Most of the job opportunities in this career are in academic research, in applied research or in teaching. You may also choose to be in translation/interpretation work. Following are some of the opportunities:

  • In Universities involved in theoretical or applied Linguistic research and teaching – you can join as a Research Fellow / Assistant Professor and grow into other positions
  • In Information  Technology firms as a  Language/Linguistic Specialist in the area of Computational Linguistics, Natural Language Processing, etc.
  • In colleges, language schools, and other institutions as a  Language  Teacher,  Accent Trainer, etc.
  • In publishing companies in the role of a Sub-editor /Writer /Translator
  • In  various  companies  as  a  Writer/Content Developer/Content Analyst/ContentWriter
  • In  Business  Process  Management  companies  as  a  Language  Coach/Trainer  or  as  an Accent / Voice Trainer
  • You can take up various opportunities as an Interpreter and work with various companies, foreign consulates, Government departments, Government agencies, etc.
  • Find opportunities in Defense forces and intelligence forces.

Work environment

  • You will mostly work in academic and research settings  –  in  Universities,  Colleges, Language Schools or in similar settings in offices of Government, Defense forces, Police forces and business enterprises.
  • Some jobs may require you to travel occasionally to the field to help other professionals interpret foreign languages, help Defense/Police/Investigative agencies or for your own academic or applied research work.
  • Academic workplaces when you are in teaching such as  Universities,  Colleges and Language schools.

Salary of a Linguist

  • During your Ph.D. in India, if you qualify in the UGC NET examination, you will get a stipend of Rs. 35,000 per month in the first 2 years and then Rs. 38,000 per month for the remaining years.
  • During your Post-Doctoral Fellowship, you may get about Rs. 40-45,000 per month.
  • In India,  if you join a  University or College as an  Assistant  Lecturer after your  Post Graduate degree and clear UGC  NET  examination,  you will earn about  Rs. 60,000 a month.
  • If you join in a research position in an enterprise,  including  Government agencies, private sector companies, etc., then in the beginning, after your post-graduation, you may expect to earn about Rs. 40-45,000 a month in the beginning. If you join after your Ph.D. then you may earn about Rs. 60-80,000 per month.
  • As an Associate Professor or in an equivalent research position, you can earn about Rs. 100,000-1,80,000 a month.
  • Mid-level positions in the industry can fetch you about Rs. 1,20,000–2,50,000 or more per month.
  • As a Professor or in an equivalent research position, you can earn about Rs. 1,60, 000-2,25,000 a month.
  • Senior-level positions in the industry can fetch you about Rs. 1,80,000- 500,000 or more per month.

Career Progression in Linguist Profession

Most of the job opportunities in this career are in academic research, in applied research or in teaching. You may also choose to be in translation/interpretation work. Following are some of the opportunities:

  • In Universities, you can join as a Research Fellow and then after getting a Ph.D., join as a Post-Doctoral Fellow.  In teaching roles, you start as an  Assistant  Professor,  then become an Associate Professor, and finally a Professor.
  • In Information Technology firms you can join after your Master’s in domain specialist roles as an Analyst / Associate Analyst / similar. You will progress from a Senior Analyst to an Associate Consultant and become a Consultant. After your Ph.D. you can join as an Associate Consultant and grow through the ranks.
  • In colleges, language schools, and other institutions you can join as an  Assistant Language Teacher, Accent Trainers, etc. and then grow into various senior roles such as Teacher, Senior Teacher, Teacher-in-Charge, Principal, etc.
  • In publishing companies, you can join as a Copy Editor and then become a Sub-editor. You can then grow as a Deputy Editor / Associate Editor and then become an Editor. You can also find work as a Writer / Translator.
  • You can join various companies as a Writer / Content Developer / Content Analyst / Content Writer and grow into senior-level roles.
  • In Business Process Management companies, you can grow from being a Language Coach/Trainer or as an Accent / Voice Trainer to Senior Trainer and then to Head of Voice/Accent Training or similar positions.
  • In Defense forces and intelligence forces.

Linguists, and especially Computational linguists, find many opportunities in one of the most important and challenging areas in Computer Science and Engineering, i.e., NLP or Natural Language Processing. This is a certain area of growth as more and more regional and local languages will be used for access to the internet and using computers.

Computational  Linguists will also find opportunities in developing artificial intelligence  – speech recognition,   learning, assimilation, and speech synthesis are some of the biggest challenges in creating artificial intelligence that can interact with humans like humans.

With increasing globalization, and more so over the next few years, Interpreters and Language Teachers will have many opportunities for work. But over the very long term period (10-20 years), the jobs of Interpreters may reduce as they could be replaced by artificial intelligence.

The overall prospect is moderate now and in the long term  (5-10  years)  and could remain moderate over 10-20 years period. Prospects for Computational Linguists will remain quite high though.

Also Read:

Discover More by accessing the Free Career Dashboard

This will help us share relevant information with you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Please share the below details
to help us to serve you better.

Stand-out from the crowd! Stay Updated.


Personalised Career Dashboard

Explore more information about

Stand-out from the crowd! Stay updated.