B.A. Program

Career Opportunities in Linguistics

In the past, the study of linguistics was focused on preparation for a Ph.D. and a career as a college professor. But recent developments have brought radical changes to the employment environment for linguists. New companies and new products appear every day that call upon the skills of linguists. People trained in linguistics are now involved in enterprises like these:


  • documenting endangered languages such as with the Rosetta Project.
  • working in the field of law. (Larry Solan, who earned a Ph.D. from UMass in Linguistics, is willing to advise Linguistics majors interested in law.)
  • creating machines capable of reading aloud to the blind.
  • development of computer programs for "speech recognition" -- turning spoken language into typed text, taking plane reservations over the phone, and so on.
  • developing software to translate webpages or other documents from one language to another.
  • giving new products names that have the right positive associations. (Linguists are responsible for the name of the Cadillac Catera for instance.)
  • creating new tests of language and reading skills.
  • teaching English in Japan.
  • Peace Corps

With its broad interdisciplinary connections and international outlook, the field of linguistics is well situated to prepare students for the evolving global marketplace. Just take a look at an on-line list of job opportunities for linguists with various kinds of expertise and different levels of training.


More broadly, the study of linguistics cultivates certain qualities of thought—careful observation, analytic reasoning, logic, hypothesis development and testing—that can be applied in many other fields, such as law, business, and teaching.