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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 2019-2020 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 23,783
Master’s Degree 2,964
Associate Degree 2,918
Basic Certificate 2,487
Doctor’s Degree 1,182
Undergraduate Certificate 701
Graduate Certificate 233

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

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in foreign languages and linguistics should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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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

When studying foreign languages and linguistics, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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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

A major in foreign languages and linguistics will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

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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?

People with a foreign languages and linguistics degree often go into the following careers:

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?

23,783 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
71% Percent Women
36% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
The major attracts more women than men. About 71% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

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

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Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 1,342
Black or African American 895
Hispanic or Latino 5,350
White 13,477
International Students 1,001
Other Races/Ethnicities 1,718

Geographic Diversity

Foreign Languages & Linguistics appeals to people across the globe. About 4.2% 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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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to foreign languages and linguistics.

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 careers associated with foreign languages and linguistics require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to foreign languages and linguistics have obtained the following education levels.

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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 2019-2020 academic year, 1,309 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) 0 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 138 1
Certificate (2-4 Years) 16 2
Associate’s Degree 473 19
Bachelor’s Degree 107 12
Post-Baccalaureate 0 0
Master’s Degree 815 17
Post-Master’s 30 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 445 2
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 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 559,661
Visual & Performing Arts 155,377
English Language & Literature 56,860
Theology & Religious Vocations 26,872
Philosophy & Religious Studies 20,201

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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