LINGUIST List 6.1632

Sun Nov 19 1995

Sum: Careers

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. Edith A Moravcsik, careers

Message 1: careers

Date: Sat, 18 Nov 1995 18:22:20 careers
From: Edith A Moravcsik <>
Subject: careers

On October 16 (or 17) 1995, I posted a query on LINGUIST requesting
information - statistical or anecdotal - on career opportunities for
linguistics graduates with BA, MA or PhD degrees. I am very grateful
to the following people for their responses (please do let me know if
I inadvertently left you out):

 Cathy BALL (
 Kimberly BARSKAITIKI (no current e-mail address)
 Susan Meredith BURT (
 Brian DRAYTON (
 Don DYER (
 Timothy HABICK (
 Richard HUDSON (
 Patricia KILROE (
 M. Lynne MURPHY (
 Michel Adam Metford PLATT (
 Alysse R. (no full last name available) (
 Yoshinori SASAKI (
 Sean M. WITTY (

 The following summary is structured as follows:

 l. Relevant literature
 2. Reports from hiring institutions
 3. Reports from linguistics programs
 4. Reports from individuals


 - directly relevant:

 a/ Richard HUDSON: _Careers for linguistics graduates_
l990. Prepared for the Linguistics Association of Great Britain.
/Dick tells me he has copies available of this 24-page booklet and he
is willing to make them available to interested parties. His e-mail
address is given above./

 b/ Yoshinori SASAKI: _Teacher's path, researcher's path:
realistic career strategies for young crosslinguistic SLA
researchers._ School of Asian Business and Language Studies,
University of South Wales, Sidney, Australia. Draft. /For Yoshinori's
e-mail address, see the list above./

 c/ Other sources:
M. Lynne Murphy said Kira Hall or Anne Lobeck was doing a survey
of career tracks for LSA's Committee on the Status of Women
in Linguistics. Nancy Hildebrandt thought the LSA had
a special study group a few years ago on what kinds of jobs people
with various degrees in linguistics were getting. However, I had asked
the LSA whether they had any information on career options for
linguists but they said they did not. M. Lynne Murphy also suggested
relevant information would be found in the "Pink Book": _The Cornell
lectures on women in linguistics_, available through coswl, and that
several linguistics departments had catalogues or net sites with brief
descriptions on career opportunities.

 - less directly relevant:

 a/ John MUNSCHAUER: _Jobs for English majors and other
smart people_ 1991. Peterson's Guides.

 b/ _Careers in psychology_, published by the American
Psychological Association. Free to students. Write to the APA at
Order Department, POBox 2710, Hyattsville, MD 20784-0710

 c/ _Job choices_, a magazine published by the College
 Placement Council (phone number: 1-800-544-5272)

 d/ SIGI+: a career counseling computer software


 Tim Habick reported that the Educational Testing Service
recently hired three linguists. The "Reasoning Groups" of ETS are the
major employer for linguists but the "Languages Groups" and the
"Verbal Groups" also hire linguists.



 Don Dyer reported The University of Mississippi had a
small BA program in linguistics graduating one or two students a year.
Of the last five graduates,
 - one is a graduate student in political science working on
 language policy matters
 - one is a graduate student in a Master in International
 Business Program with Russian as her language track
 - one is working for the Social Services department of the
 City of Los Angeles utilizing his Spanish skills
 - one is working in an antiques shop holding out hope that
 she will be able to teach English in highschool
 - one is working in a restaurant in Spain


 Cathy Ball, who is the Head of the Computational
Linguistics Program at Georgetown University, reported that Georgetown
had four different linguistics tracks: theoretical linguistics,
sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, andcomputational linguistics,
and that the career options differed for graduates of the four
concentrations. She said all the students in Computational Linguistics
found jobs in the field, often before they graduated. The positions
they end up in are machine translation, natural language processing,
information retrieval, or consulting. Some of the foreign students
return to their home countries and find academic positions
there. Students find jobs through the informal network of alumni,
through positions on lists, and they also get calls and e-mail from
local companies.


 Steven earned a BA in linguistics at UCLA, on the
strength of which he got a job working in text-to-speech synthesis at
First Byte. He says the commercial job market for this and the other
aspects of computer-interface development that need linguists is small
but shows no signs of disappearing. The job positions, when available,
vary in the expected level of education, specialization, and work
experience of the applicants. He also tells us that the FAQ document
for the Usenet newsgroup <comp.speech> has information on many
companies working in this field. This FAQ is available in plain-text
by anonymous FTP as
 or by sending e-mail to <> with no topic
 and the following line in the body of the message:
 send usenet/news.answers/comp-speech-faq/*
 The FAQ is also available in HTML format (easier to read) at

 She completed her PhD in linguistics 9 years ago; she
had a number of adjunct positions and has just obtained her first
tenure-track position. She said she could offer a "cautionary tale
with feminist overtones".

 Brian left Harvard with a BA and MA (ABD) in
linguistics, with specialization in historical and comparative
(Indoeuropean) linguistics. During the next 20 years, he held the
following jobs:

 - running a rest home
 - teaching AI programing
 - teaching language and linguistics in a small college
 - working in science education (teacher training, curriculum
 development, classroom research)
 He is currently completing a PhD in plan ecology. He feels his
 language and linguistics background has been invaluable.

 Pat suggested graduates with applied linguistics
background (ESL training, SLA for teachers, computer applications)
have an easier time fidning jobs. She also thought combinations of
linguistics programs with speech pathology or communication would
provide better employment chances.

 Lynne reports many of her linguist PhD friends are real
estate agents, editors, etc. She feels it is important for people with
graduate degrees in linguistics to be mobile (Lynne herself has a
position in South Africa).

 Alysse said many linguistics BA-s ended up teaching non-
credit courses in 2-year colleges part time in small Southern towns in
English, Spanish, or ASL.

 Dale sent me the responses that he had received to a
query he posted on LINGUIST in March l994, in which he wanted to know
the institutional designations of people whose primary self-
identification was as a linguist. The positions his respondents wound
up in includes the following:

 - at universities:
 -- professor in communication disorders
 -- anthropological linguist
 -- research associate in child language
 -- professor of English
 -- professor of psychology
 -- lecturer in language education
 -- lecturer in French
 - in industry:
 - software engineer
 - humanist/engineer
 - researcher in speech recognition
 - knowledge engineer

 Sean is working on his BA in linguistics at Temple
University. He says he has been assisting foreign students in
improving their TOEFL scores by teaching them English through
linguistic principles taken from syntax and universals. Once he has
his degree, he plans to teach English in Korea while also working on
an advanced degree and working on a book on universals.

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