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Foreign Languages & Linguistics Major

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Foreign Languages & Linguistics

$76,990 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many foreign languages and linguistics graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 24,758
Master’s Degree 3,305
Associate’s Degree 2,608
Basic Certificate 2,111
Doctor’s Degree 1,243
Undergraduate Certificate 676
Graduate Certificate 182

What Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to foreign languages and linguistics and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.

Skills for Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors

foreign languages and linguistics majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Abilities for Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a foreign languages and linguistics student include the following:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a Foreign Languages & Linguistics Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with foreign languages and linguistics:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
English Language and Literature Professors 9.8% $66,590
Foreign Language and Literature Professors 11.7% $67,640
Interpreters and Translators 17.7% $49,930
Professors 9.4% $65,660
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 7.5% $60,320
Transportation Planners 6.7% $81,340

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Foreign Languages & Linguistics?

24,758 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
70% Percent Women
36% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This major is dominated by women with about 70% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of foreign languages and linguistics majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Foreign Languages & Linguistics Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 1,424
Black or African American 1,052
Hispanic or Latino 5,349
White 14,225
International Students 916
Other Races/Ethnicities 1,792

Geographic Diversity

Foreign Languages & Linguistics appeals to people across the globe. About 3.7% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages and linguistics have a median salary of $28,850 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $24,625 (25th percentile) and $32,500 (75th percentile).

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Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a foreign languages and linguistics degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $64,340 to $79,160 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to foreign languages and linguistics. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Foreign Languages & Linguistics Major  ( 64340 to 79160 )
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Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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Some degrees associated with foreign languages and linguistics may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for foreign languages and linguistics careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 2.4%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 0.2%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.2%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 1.7%
Bachelor’s Degree 37.2%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 4.2%
Master’s Degree 25.4%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 2.8%
Doctoral Degree 27.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.1%

Online Foreign Languages & Linguistics Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 1,321 schools offered some type of foreign languages and linguistics program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 319 18
Certificate (1-2 years) 133 4
Certificate (2-4 Years) 22 3
Associate’s Degree 444 24
Bachelor’s Degree 79 2
Post-Baccalaureate 319 18
Master’s Degree 840 20
Post-Master’s 38 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 456 3
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 1 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Foreign Languages & Linguistics Worth It?

The median salary for a foreign languages and linguistics grad is $76,990 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 93% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $741,800 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to foreign languages and linguistics.

Major Number of Grads
Liberal Arts / Sciences & Humanities 516,754
Visual & Performing Arts 154,258
English Language & Literature 57,989
Theology & Religious Vocations 31,559
Philosophy & Religious Studies 16,163

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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