What you can do with a degree in... linguistics
Queen Mary University of London shares insights into where a linguistics degree could take you
Linguistics is a fascinating field, and it’s not as niche as you might think. A degree in linguistics prepares you for a huge range of careers.
First, let’s explore some of the key skills you will gain whilst studying linguistics.
Skills you can gain from this degree include…
Data analysis - You’ll be looking for patterns in data, which will be useful if you need to interpret trends in your future career. As part of your dissertation, you could be investigating communication disorders and speech therapy, or working with a native speaker of an endangered language.
Data collection - You’ll be conducting your own research, so will learn about different research methods and how to interpret data. Students at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have previously collected data on changing London English.
Editing text - You’ll be writing lots of essays and reports on a linguistics degree, which will mean learning how to edit skilfully in order to meet set word counts. This will be useful in the world of work, helping you make sure you keep reports, emails and presentations succinct.
Understanding of texts, genres, and spoken communication - You’ll be a pro at reading texts from different cultures and genres, as well as understanding different dialects and patterns in speech. This will be useful for any career which prioritises communication - like marketing or copywriting.
Using evidence to build arguments - When writing essays, you will need to draw on your research in order to back up your arguments. This will be useful for prioritising tasks and making decisions when it comes to problem solving at work.
With a degree in linguistics, you can become...
Some common careers for linguistics grads include…
In this job, you’ll provide the written elements of an advertising campaign, often working alongside an art director. Creating headlines and catchphrases, scripts for commercials, and writing for social media advertisements – there’s a huge range of ways to show your stuff. From your degree, you’ll know how to write persuasively, and may have even studied historical advertising and propaganda. You’ll be used to writing to deadlines, too, and your degree will have given you experience discussing ideas constructively with others.
As an archivist, your main role will be to preserve and curate information from a range of historical periods, and help members of the public and specialists navigate it as needed. You’ll get experience with archives and databases during your degree, so you’re already a step ahead.
English as a foreign language teacher
The role of an English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher is to help people of all ages who haven’t grown up speaking English to learn or improve their fluency with the language. As there is a demand for people to fulfil this role both in the UK and abroad, this career comes with plenty of chances to work all over the world. Given your understanding of all the weird and wonderful aspects of the English language, from complex grammar structures to confusing phonetics, you’ll be well placed to get qualified to teach others.
Speech and language therapist
As a speech and language therapist, you’ll undergo additional training in order to provide treatment for children and adults who struggle to communicate. A background in linguistics means you already have an interest in language and how it works, but your degree will increase your knowledge of speech production and acquisition. This will help you develop your sensitivity to different styles of communication and human behaviour, which will be a huge asset in this field.
English graduates are often well suited to teaching at all levels, thanks to the excellent organisation and written and verbal communication skills you develop during your degree. Plus, having spent time analysing the way people of all ages communicate, you’ll be particularly well prepared to adapt your teaching style to whatever your students need.
A degree in this subject might also take you to…
Whilst you might expect to pursue one of the above roles after studying linguistics, the balance of analytical and communication skills gained means there’s a whole range of careers this degree can lead you to.
Linguistics graduates at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have gone on to a range of exciting careers that you might not expect. For example…
Freelance video production
The communication skills you’ll gain from a linguistics degree could make you a great storyteller, with an ability to give information in a clearly compiled way. These skills could contribute to a role in video production, building a story, writing a script and editing into a finished product.
IT project and programme management
IT may seem like an unusual field for a degree that focuses on language, but linguistics is a degree that can teach you both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Depending on your focus, you may find yourself learning statistics, digital data analysis, software development, and other tech tricks that will make you a great fit for a career in IT.
At QMUL, linguistics degrees include modules in data collection and analysis, which is a key skill for a job as a market researcher. In these fields, you’ll talk to ordinary people in order to gain an understanding of public opinion on various topics, ranging from political candidates to products or brands.
Public relations and press
Public relations professionals are the voice of companies, engaging with the media and the public on behalf of a business or an important individual. Aside from the skills in written and verbal communications that you’ll gain during your degree, a job in public relations will make good use of your ability to employ logic and evidence to build a narrative, and your deep understanding of how communication works.
Your skill with words and attention to detail will be a great fit for publishing. There are a range of career paths you can take in this field, but you’ll likely begin with editing copy (so all the time you spend on your degree carefully analysing language will come in handy!) and eventually grow into editing texts, working with writers, or preparing books for publication.
15 months after graduating…
The average salary for a linguistics student 15 months after graduating is £23,729. According to statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, roughly 66% of linguistics students are in full-time work by this time.
If any of the above careers appeal to you, visit the Careers library to learn all about what they entail, and what you’ll need to do to pursue them, including expected marks and any further education you might require.
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