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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

In an O*NET survey, foreign languages and linguistics majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the 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

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to foreign languages and linguistics:

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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

Foreign Languages and Linguistics majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

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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*
This major is dominated by women with about 71% 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:

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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

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Foreign Languages & Linguistics. About 4.2% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do Foreign Languages & Linguistics Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages and linguistics made a median starting salary of $28,850 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $24,625 (25th percentile) and $32,500 (75th percentile).

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We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to foreign languages and linguistics so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

Foreign Languages and Linguistics majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $64,340 to $79,160 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

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. 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.

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 2019-2020, 1,309 schools offered a foreign languages and linguistics program of some type. 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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