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Linguistics is the systematic study of language, its sounds, structure, meaning and function.

Linguists are concerned with variations in language according to social setting, which is called sociolinguistics, geographical regions, called dialectology, and time periods or historical linguistics. Psycholinguistics investigates the relationship between language and the mind.

Representative Job Titles and Area of Specialization
  • Audiologist
  • Bilingual Education
  • Broadcaster
  • Communication Disorders Specialist
  • Copywriter
  • Foreign Service Officer *
  • Grant/Proposal Writer
  • Interpreter
  • Journalist *
  • Lawyer *
  • Lexicography
  • Lobbyist
  • Market Researcher
  • Professor/Instructor/Teacher *
  • Psycholinguist *
  • Public Relations
  • Publishing
  • Researcher
  • Social Work
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Speech Therapy
  • Technical Writer
  • Translator

* See Training section

Nature of the Work

The most common careers for Linguists are: teaching English as a second language; writing textbooks, or planning and administering English-teaching programs.

Several government agencies, such as the Foreign Service Institute of the State Department, hire linguists to supervise language training programs. Others, such as the Department of the Interior, have linguists work in specialized areas like determining geographical names for mapping purposes.

Lexicographers are involved with the publishing of dictionaries. They are concerned with details such as pronunciation, the definition of grammatical terms, dialectal variation, and etymology.

Linguists also are involved in publishing foreign language textbooks and developing elementary and secondary programs in reading, writing and spelling.


Linguists are hired as technical writers, who put scientific and technical information into readily understandable language in the preparation of manuals, catalogs, instructional materials and engineering reports.

Places of Employment
  • Consulting firms
  • Elementary and secondary schools
  • Federal government
    • Central Intelligence Agency
    • Department of Defense
    • Department of the Interior
    • Department of State
    • Immigration and Naturalization Service
  • International organizations
  • Language institutes
  • Manufacturing firms
  • Publishing companies
  • Research institutes
  • United Nations
  • Universities and colleges


Many of the jobs listed above may be obtained with a bachelor's degree depending on the type of coursework you completed and experience you gained as an undergrad.

Job titles designated by an asterisk generally require specific education and/or experience beyond the bachelor's degree.

A master's degree is sufficient for teaching positions if you want to specialize in bilingual education or English as a Second Language. If you are considering a career in teaching and research at a university, you should pursue a Ph.D.

For further information and/or career counseling contact the UCR Career Center, (951) 827-3631.

Supplemental Material

The following documents may provide further ideas for exploration.


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