How To Become a Linguistics Major (Step by Step)

Okoma V.
Okoma V.  - Study Expert
10 Min Read

How To Become a Linguistics Major: Becoming a linguist can be very tactical as you need to be sure of what you want exactly.

As there are various specializations for you to pick from, there are also various things to consider.

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What does it mean to be a Linguistics Major?

A linguistic major is someone who analyzes the structure of languages and how humans make use of it.

He/she Examines the elements of language, such as its sounds and word structures.

This is also a major that gives you insight into one of the most intriguing aspects of human behaviour and knowledge.

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Studying Linguistic major teaches you about the science of languages ad how they evolve.

What are the Possible Jobs of a Linguist?

Obtaining a degree in Linguistics opens you up to a lot of job opportunities. Below are some of these jobs you are likely to get into as a linguistic major.

The computational linguist in the tech industry

This field involves combining computing and rule-based modeling of natural language, to solve problems like artificial intelligence, machine translation, document processing, grammar and style checking, and machine learning.

With this job, you can earn an average of $70,500 as your monthly salary.

Linguistics Professor

You can pursue an academic career, and use your knowledge and experiences to teach in universities and colleges. This course may however include, philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and anthropology.

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Here, your salary depends on your level and years of experience and therefore may range between $38,000 – $160,000.

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Translator

With a pretty straightforward meaning, you can also get into translating several languages for clients and companies. This includes translations of documents and articles depending on the specific field involved.

Here, your salary is pretty ok not minding whether you work in an office or from home as a freelancer. You however earn anything between $20,000 – $73,500.

These are the highest paying jobs you can get as a Linguist. However, other job opportunities include, teaching a foreign language, being a technical writer, becoming a forensic linguist, etc.

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Is Becoming a Linguistic Major a good idea?

Well considering the huge amount of job opportunities to can get by studying Linguistics, it is quite obvious that this is a good qualification to pursue. Besides, there are high demands for persons with qualifications of a Linguistics major.

However, it is good o note that being a Linguist can be quite stressful, as you are to work almost every day, spending most time studying.

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How to Become a Linguistics Major

Becoming a Linguistics major requires one to go through certain training and get some certification.

These are gotten based on decisions such as:

Choose the Desired Linguist Career

Interpreters and translators who work for federal agencies like the FBI may not need to have a degree but still must have strong language skills in English and native-level fluency in at least one other language.

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Those who wish to teach English as a second language need a bachelor’s degree and often some specialized training in language pedagogy.

Language researchers and analysts who work for tech companies, government agencies, and various other types of firms, typically hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in linguistics.

Professors of linguistics and other advanced researchers in academia and industry normally need a PhD, but may not need to become fluent in any languages.

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However, undergraduate and graduate programs in linguistics generally require knowledge of at least one foreign language.

Read also: What Career Goals Should I Set As A Student?

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Get a Bachelor’s Degree

While some interpreting and translating jobs do not necessarily require a bachelor’s degree, most linguist career options do.

Linguistics majors can expect to take courses in such areas as phonology, semantics, grammatical analysis, foreign language teaching, and language in society.

Those who know they want to be interpreters or translators in a specialized area, such as finance, healthcare, science, or the law, should pick a major related to that area or a foreign language, literature, or English.

For those who wish to work in language education, combining education and linguistics coursework and language study may be the best path.

You can also combine linguistics with a related field, like anthropology or psychology, in a double major to enhance your options and prospects on the job market.

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Gain Experience

Volunteering or interning is a good way to gain experience and build a portfolio. The American Translators Association and the Red Cross work together to place volunteer interpreters in crises.

Students may also find volunteer opportunities at community organizations or hospitals. For those who cannot afford the time as unpaid volunteers or interns, abundant employment opportunities are teaching English abroad.

Training and certification in teaching English as a second language are recommended and sometimes required to teach overseas.

In computational linguistics, where job ads may include a long list of technical specifications, internships are an ideal way to gain specific skills (and contacts) in a real-world environment.

Get Certified

For interpreters and translators, certification is not generally required, but it can be beneficial. The American Translators Association offers certifications in 24 languages to those who pass an exam and achieve a requisite level of education and/or experience.

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There are also specialized certifications offered by government authorities and non-profit organizations for sign language, conference, court and healthcare interpreters, and others who demonstrate proficiency.

Get a Master’s Degree

Master’s degree programs in linguistics are designed to provide a professional, rather than strictly academic, credential in an area with many practical applications, like computational linguistics or sociolinguistics.

Some of these programs may be completed in 12 months, instead of the normal two years. These programs focus more on networking, job market preparation, placement, and other career-related skills and concerns.

For students who want a marketable specialization and a career in the private sector, one of these programs may be the best route to earning a master’s degree.

Computational linguists and other language research and analyst positions may require graduate training in linguistics or a related field (such as computer science for computational linguists or education for applied linguists) to obtain higher-level positions.

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Conference interpreters, who provide interpreting services at international business and diplomatic gatherings, often obtain a master’s or other graduate-level training in this highly skilled speciality.

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Other interpreters or translators may opt to complete a more generalized graduate program in their field.

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These master’s degree programs include courses on such topics as public speaking, translation project management, and computer-assisted translation.

Get a PhD

For an academic career or advanced research role, it is essential to hold a Ph.D. in linguistics. Students may earn a master’s and Ph.D. consecutively in the same program. Or they may join a doctoral program after earning a master’s, which may take up to 8 years.

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Doctoral students normally spend 2-3 years completing coursework covering various subfields and methods of linguistics. And also taking qualifying exams and/or writing qualifying papers.

Most programs also require that students show reading proficiency in one or two languages other than English. The rest of a doctoral program is spent researching and writing a dissertation.

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However, it is important to note that Individuals interested in studying linguistics might pursue a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. Depending on what type of specific career positions might be available with government agencies, schools, or businesses.

Read also: Can I Get PhD Programs Without Masters?

Top Schools to Pursue a Degree in Linguistics Major

You can, however, pursue a Linguistics Degree in different schools across the vast world.

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However, here are the best colleges with a Linguistics Major.

  • Columbia University
  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Yale University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Chicago

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Conclusion

A Linguistics major can be seen as one is who is especially skilled with language pieces of knowledge and abilities. The article tells you all you need to know to be able to become a linguistic major.

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