Options with linguistics
Studying linguistics provides you with many subject-specific skills. These include the ability to transcribe and analyse language in fine detail, and understand and critique theories and ideas. You also learn how to present linguistic data in different formats, such as tables, graphs, matrices, diagrams and reports. Research skills are also developed, especially regarding the accurate collection of data, research methodology, analysis techniques and statistical analysis, using appropriate IT packages where necessary.
Throughout the degree programme, students study the subject of communication but also pick up excellent communication skills themselves, including written communication through writing up research and oral communication through interacting with language subjects.
Linguistics is a constantly developing subject and you learn how to interpret new information and differing opinions.
There are also other generic and transferable skills that you can pick up from studying a linguistics degree. They include:
All of these skills are highly valued by employers, meaning you can use your degree in other areas not related to linguistics.
You should thoroughly research the area of work you would like to go into and find out whether specific vocational or professional training is required. You may also wish to consider undertaking postgraduate study to develop your knowledge in a certain area.
It is also a good idea to try to get some work experience as this will help to boost your employability prospects. This may involve paid part-time work, work shadowing or volunteering. Work experience particularly relevant to a linguistics student includes:
Although some of the jobs listed here might not be first jobs for many graduates, they are among the many realistic possibilities with your degree, provided you can demonstrate you have the attributes employers are looking for. Bear in mind that it’s not just your degree discipline that determines your options. Remember that many graduate vacancies don't specify particular degree disciplines, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. Look at your degree... what next? for informed advice on career planning and graduate employment, or login/register with My Prospects to find out what jobs would suit you, a helpful starting point for self-analysis.
Explore types of jobs to find out more about the above options and related jobs.
A degree in linguistics is useful for going directly into areas such as teaching abroad, publishing roles and government administration, such as the Civil Service. Linguistics graduates also go into roles where they can use their knowledge of linguistics directly, such as working for dictionary compilers or as proofreaders and editors.
A 2012 HESA survey of 2011 graduates indicates that six months after graduation almost 60% of all linguistics graduates were in paid employment. Almost 9% became business and financial professionals while just over 8% were working in marketing, sales and advertising. A further 7% had roles as managers in the public, commercial and industrial sectors and almost 6% worked in arts, design, culture and sports. Just over a third of linguistics graduates in employment went into clerical, retail or catering-related roles, gaining transferable skills and work experience.
Common employers of linguistics graduates are the Civil Service, especially on the Civil Service Fast Stream scheme, and overseas language schools looking for teachers of English as a foreign language. Some entering the health sector train as speech and language therapists through an accredited two-year diploma/MSc offered by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) .
For detailed information about the range of options check out the following sectors:
For further information on possibilities in other employment areas, see job sectors.
Statistics are collected every year to show what HE students do immediately after graduation. These can be a useful guide but, in reality, because the data is collected within six months of graduation, many graduates are travelling, waiting to start a course, paying off debts, getting work experience or still deciding what they want to do. For further information about some of the areas of employment commonly entered by graduates of any degree discipline, check out What Do Graduates Do? and your degree...what next?
Linguistics is an ideal first degree if you want to go into further study, which can improve your employability. Just under 17% of linguistics students who graduated in 2011 went on to full-time further study, while just over 9% went on to study part time while working.
There are few jobs that require undergraduate level linguistics alone, but for many of the careers that attract linguistics graduates, such as the Civil Service, human resources (HR) and social research, further vocational study will enhance your chances of employment. For careers in journalism and IT, too, although it is not essential to do postgraduate study, your chances will improve significantly with a relevant qualification.
In some career areas, such as teaching, where you need a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or equivalent, or speech therapy, where you need an accredited qualification in order to practise, it is essential that you take a postgraduate qualification.
When deciding whether to undertake further study, consider how vital it is to your chosen career or employability prospects if you have not decided on a profession yet. Also consider how you will fund the study if accepted onto a course.
These trends show only what previous graduates in your subject did immediately upon graduating. Over the course of their career - the first few years in particular - many others will opt for some form of further study, either part time or full time. If further study interests you, start by thinking about postgraduate study in the UK and search courses and research to identify your options.
For details relating to finance and the application process, look at funding my further study.