Forensic Linguist: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for forensic linguists. Get the facts about typical job duties, education requirements and potential salary to determine whether this is the right career for you. Schools offering Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Forensic Linguist Do?

Forensic linguists use knowledge of linguistics, foreign languages and criminology to contribute evidence for a criminal case. They do so by analyzing both written and spoken language to identify voices, gauge linguistic proficiency, and attempt to determine if a speaker is lying. In addition, forensic linguists exonerate people who have been wrongfully accused of crimes.

The following table lists the general requirements for a career in this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree for entry-level position
Education Field of Study Linguistics, criminal justice, forensic linguistics
Key Responsibilities Identify writer or speaker by analyzing documents or tape recordings, determine native language, investigate written or spoken threats, provide information and analysis to law enforcement officials, offer court testimony
Median Salary (2016) $61,989*

Source: *

What Should I Study?

During undergraduate school, you might choose to major in linguistics to gain a foundation in the humanities, social sciences and language. Your coursework might include linguistics, phonetics and phonology, language change, syntax, linguistic meaning and lexical semantics. Alternatively, you might choose to study criminal justice to learn about law and the legal system for adults and minors in the United States as well as the causes of crimes and the methods of criminal justice agencies. Your classes would cover the liberal arts and sciences, the criminal justice system and law.

You could continue your education with a master's degree program in forensic linguistics to learn about the field from sociological, legal, psychological and criminological perspectives. In a master's degree program, you would study legal and ethical issues, sociolinguistics and theory of criminology.

What Might I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide salary statistics for forensic linguists because these professionals usually work as consultants. According to, as of October 2016, the median salary for this profession was $61,989.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A similar occupation to being a forensic linguistic would be becoming an interpreter or translator. These fields will require proficiency in a second language along with a bachelor's degree. Similarly, you could consider becoming either a medical transcriptionist or court reporter, both of which involve transcribing spoken words and creating written documents verbatim.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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