Foreign Language Linguistics

Learn how the study of foreign language linguistics can lead to a job in interpretation and translation, academia and anthropology. Find information about degree options, employment outlook and salary here, and make an informed decision abut your career and education.

Is Foreign Language Linguistics for Me?

Overview of the Field

Linguistics is a science that explores the structure, development, acquisition, history and patterns of language. In a linguistics program, you'll learn how languages evolve and spread. While degree programs in foreign languages and linguistics are closely related, foreign language programs may focus more on the diction, grammar and vocabulary associated with a specific language. Studying either of these fields could prepare you for work in the education, government, interpretation, business or hospitality sectors.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for interpreters and translators will increase by 46% nationwide between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than the national average of 11% for all career sectors. During the same period, the number of working adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers, including ESL (English as a second language) teachers, could grow by 9%. Between 2012 and 2022, anthropologists, such as linguistic anthropologists, may see a 19% growth in jobs. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for anthropologists was $58,360, while interpreters and translators earned $42,420. University foreign language professors had a median annual income of $58,620, as noted by the BLS (

How Can I Work in Foreign Language Linguistics?

Educational Options

Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs are available in a variety of foreign languages, as well as translation and applied linguistics. Language majors may include the study of Spanish, French or German. You could also pursue a degree or certificate in translation. Although few American universities offer bachelor's degree programs in linguistics, undergraduate programs can act as a starting point for advanced degree programs.

Graduate Programs

Master's and doctoral degree programs in linguistics and translation are much more common. In these programs, you could study topics like research methods, language analysis and practical linguistic applications. Applied linguistics programs include studies in translation or methods for teaching a foreign language, preparing graduates for careers as curriculum developers, government translators or linguistic specialists. Earning a doctoral degree can lead to work as a university foreign language or linguistics professor.


In a language or linguistics program, you could explore second language acquisition, non-verbal communications and pronunciation techniques. Language programs typically include studies in culture, enabling learners to discover the context in which different societies use language, making translation easier. In applied linguistics programs, you'll examine the role language plays in everyday life through courses in phonetics and language cognition. Some programs also explore how computer-assisted learning systems are used during the language acquisition process.


According to the BLS, some careers require certification. For instance, aspiring public school teachers must obtain professional teaching certification. Although it's not always required, translator certification and interpreter certification is available through various American associations.

Related Articles for Foreign Language Linguistics

View More Articles

Related Videos

  • What Does a Court Interpreter Do? - Video

    Court Interpreters work to translate information from another language into English for the court systems. They work with lawyers, witnesses and defendants to relay information for depositions, hearings and other court cases. Court Interpreters must be fluent in more than one language in addition to having adequate knowledge of legal terminology.
  • How Do I Become an English Teacher? - Video

    English teachers enjoy rewarding careers in education. These teaching professionals can play an important role in building language, analytical and creative abilities in students. At the same time, these educators can inspire young people by cultivating their appreciation for the literary arts. Learn more about becoming an English teacher.
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Liberty University

    Liberty University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Liberty University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Full Sail University

    Full Sail University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Full Sail University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Winter Park
  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Towson University

    Campus Locations:

    • Maryland: Towson
  • Stanford University

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Stanford
  • Harvard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Cambridge
  • University of Pennsylvania

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • Howard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
  • Duke University

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Durham