Job Description:

A Linguist studies the structure, evolution, and usage of language, often conducting research, analysing languages, and interpreting linguistic data.

Job Category:
Culture, Media & Sport

What you will do:

As a linguist, you will be:

  • Analysing the structure, grammar, and vocabulary of languages to understand linguistic patterns and features
  • Conducting linguistic research to explore language evolution, dialects, language acquisition, and other language-related phenomena
  • Translating written text or spoken language between different languages and providing interpretation services
  • Documenting endangered or lesser-known languages to preserve linguistic diversity
  • Educating others in language learning, linguistics, or related fields
  • Developing algorithms and software for NLP applications like speech recognition, machine translation, and chatbots
  • Studying the sounds of speech, including articulation, acoustics, and speech perception
  • Analysing the structure of words and sentences in languages
  • Investigating meaning in language and how context influences communication
  • Examining the social aspects of language, including language variation, dialects, and language attitudes
  • Tracing the historical development and evolution of languages over time
  • Applying linguistic analysis to legal investigations, such as authorship attribution and language interpretation in court cases
  • Developing linguistic algorithms and tools for natural language processing and machine learning applications
  • Contributing to language policy development and language revitalisation efforts
  • Exploring the relationship between language and culture, including cultural expressions and idiomatic language


You will need:

  • a strong understanding of linguistic theories
  • proficiency in one or more languages
  • familiarity with related fields like anthropology, psychology, computer science, or speech pathology
  • familiarity with linguistic software and tools used for data analysis, transcription, and computational linguistics

As well as:

  • analytical and critical thinking skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • effective communication skills
  • the ability to pay attention to detail
  • adaptability skills
  • empathy and patience
  • time management (organisational skills)
  • ethical awareness and cultural sensitivity
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Specific GCSE subjects are not typically required to become a linguist, but a strong foundation in the following subjects can be helpful:

  1. English: Strong language and communication skills are essential for linguists.
  2. Mathematics: Math proficiency aids in analysing linguistic data and conducting statistical research.
  3. Science: Science subjects can develop critical thinking and analytical skills.
  4. Foreign Languages: Learning additional languages can be advantageous, as linguists often deal with multiple languages.
  5. Social Sciences: Subjects like psychology, sociology, or anthropology provide insights into human behavior and culture, which can be relevant to linguistics.

While these subjects can be beneficial, a linguistics degree program at the university level typically provides the necessary foundational knowledge. A passion for language and a curiosity about linguistic structures are also important qualities for aspiring linguists.

To become a linguist, you generally need the following qualifications and requirements:

Educational Background

A bachelor’s degree in linguistics or a related field, such as anthropology, cognitive science, or psychology, is often the starting point. For more advanced roles and research positions, a master’s or doctoral degree in linguistics may be required.

Fieldwork Experience

For linguists involved in language documentation or endangered languages, fieldwork experience is valuable.

Working Hours and Environment:

The working hours and environment of a linguist vary but may include flexible schedules, academic institutions, research labs, translation agencies, freelance work, and consulting, depending on their specialisation and role.

Career Path & Progression:

The typical career path of a linguist involves earning a degree, specialising in a linguistic area, and pursuing careers in academia, research, language technology, consulting, translation, or language services, often with advanced study and ongoing learning.