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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 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 24,008
Master’s Degree 3,126
Associate’s Degree 2,815
Basic Certificate 2,382
Doctor’s Degree 1,224
Undergraduate Certificate 715
Graduate Certificate 116

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

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

As a foreign languages and linguistics major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

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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?

24,008 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
70% Percent Women
37% 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 1,386
Black or African American 984
Hispanic or Latino 5,347
White 13,526
International Students 1,011
Other Races/Ethnicities 1,754

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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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 degrees associated with foreign languages and linguistics may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. 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 2018-2019 academic year, 1,326 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) 352 25
Certificate (1-2 years) 136 7
Certificate (2-4 Years) 23 2
Associate’s Degree 453 32
Bachelor’s Degree 90 8
Post-Baccalaureate 352 25
Master’s Degree 831 25
Post-Master’s 41 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 459 1
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 547,539
Visual & Performing Arts 153,295
English Language & Literature 59,299
Theology & Religious Vocations 32,172
Philosophy & Religious Studies 16,252

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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