The field of linguistics focuses on the scientific study of language and how it is structured. Some linguists are fluent in multiple languages, while others have expertise in the various elements of the English language and how they should be used. Since every job involves communication skills and communication involves the use of language, you shouldn't be surprised to discover that there are many interesting career options for language experts.
Language experts with strong nonfiction writing skills are well-suited to work as technical writers. Professional technical writers are responsible for crafting highly technical documents written in a way that non-experts can understand. They often write procedures manuals and user guides for equipment or software applications, though there are other kinds of technical writing. The average compensation for technical writers is around $73,000 per year.
Language experts who are more creative than technical often prefer to use their writing skills in a way that allows for more artistic license. For creative linguistics experts who are also knowledgeable about marketing, working as an advertising copywriter can be a fabulous career option. What better way to let your love of language shine than with catchy jingles and catchphrases? The average pay for advertising copywriters is around $55,000 per year.
Public relations (PR) is a perfect profession for promotional-minded language experts. In this type of job, you'll get to pitch story ideas to writers and editors, write and submit news releases, craft speeches, handle crisis communications, and develop corporate communication strategies. Working in PR is a great way for a language enthusiast to harness the power of prose in the form of a lucrative career. The median pay for PR specialists is around $63,000 per year.
Working as a political consultant can also be a great option for language experts. Political consultants work very closely with their candidates to ensure that the messages they put out are aligned with the interests of the voters they seek to represent. Political consultants develop message strategies, write speeches, and otherwise influence the narrative related to elections and political discourse. On average, political consultants make around $80,000 per year.
Writers and authors are responsible for creating content. Some write feature articles or news stories, while others craft in-depth reports, scripts, blog posts, books, other types of content. Writers are responsible for conveying factual information, opinions, or stories to readers via the written word. On average, writers earn around $51,000 per year.
Editors work closely with writers, though they don't actually craft content themselves. They are responsible for ensuring that published content is well-written and clearly conveys the writer's meaning to the intended audience. They also check to ensure that written work meets the guidelines of the publication or other organization for which they are editing. They may work for websites, magazines, news organizations, book publishing companies, or in other industries where content is produced. The average annual salary for an editor is around $54,000 per year.
Language experts who are fluent in speaking, reading, and/or writing multiple languages can work as translators or interpreters. People who work as translators and interpreters convert information from the language it is spoken or written into another language. Interpreters and some translators focus on spoken communication. Some translators convert written documents into other languages. The average pay for translators and interpreters is around $52,000 per year.
Sign Language Interpreter
Not all language involves spoken or written words. Linguistics experts who master American Sign Language (ASL) can work as sign language interpreters. They are usually contracted to work at special events to provide interpretation, so attendees who need assistance are able to get the information that is being provided in spoken form. Sign language interpreters are paid on an hourly basis, usually ranging from $23 - $28 per hour. Certified interpreters may command a higher rate.
K-12 Language Teacher
Expertise in linguistics can help prepare one to work as a foreign language or language arts teacher in elementary or secondary schools. If you have a degree in linguistics or a related field, additional coursework in education can qualify you to become a certified teacher. Each state has its own requirements. You may just need some education courses and student teaching experience, or you may need to earn a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree. The average annual pay for teachers is around $60,000.
Language experts sometimes go to work as instructors who teach English to speakers of other languages (ESOL). In order to be an ESOL teacher, it's important to have a high level of expertise in the syntax and structure of the English language, paired with the ability to teach it to people who already speak one or more other languages. ESOL instructors often teach non-credit classes or workshops, while others work in the school system or colleges. Some work in other countries. The average pay for ESOL teachers is around $53,000 per year.
College Language Instructor/Professor
Linguistics experts with graduate degrees in their area of specialty can teach in college or university settings. Those with advanced degrees in a particular language can teach that language. Those with linguistics expertise can teach in linguistics programs or closely related fields, such as English, literature, fine arts, rhetoric, or communication. Full-time college/university roles usually require a Ph.D., while a Master's degree may be sufficient for a community college. The average pay for linguistics professors is around $67,000 per year.
Many Options for Language Experts
These are just a few of the many career options where having expertise in linguistics is a plus. Those who study linguistics in college often go to graduate school to earn specific credentials that will allow them to put their language expertise to use in other professions. For example, having a background in linguistics can help prepare someone to go to law school and become an attorney. Linguistics is also a common undergraduate major for people who go on to become credentialed speech pathologists or audiologists. If you're a language expert, many professional possibilities are available to you.