Linguistics and Applied Linguistics careers information

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Why study Linguistics and Applied Linguistics

Employers seek individuals with the ability to express themselves clearly,to solve novel problems and to present their solutions in a clear and accessible form. These skills are central to the study of Linguistics.

In a period when Australian culture is coming to terms with the need to relate to the worldwide mosaic of non-English speaking cultures, and when information and communication are moving to technological centre stage, there is a growing demand for people equipped to analyse language. An increasing number of employers, ranging from language teachers to engineers of knowledge systems and speech synthesis, from translators to managers to designers of natural-language interfaces for computers, from lexicographers to lawyers to bilingual schools in Aboriginal communities, realise the value of a sound training in Linguistics. 

Many graduates welcome the opportunity to travel after graduation. One passport to working overseas is teaching English as a Foreign Language. While Applied Linguistics in your degree will not provide you with the teaching qualification you will need, it will give you a head start in understanding and orienting you to the area and will give you relevant knowledge and analytical skills. 

Graduates with a background in Applied linguistics also gain an enhanced understanding of how people learn first, second and foreign languages and of how language is used in the community. These skills will be relevant to students interested in preparing for careers as language teachers, language education and assessment experts, speech pathologists, interpreters and translators, and a variety of jobs in industry where language and communication are issues are of concern. This background is also relevant preparation for postgraduate study in Applied Linguistics, Education, Linguistics, and Languages Other Than English. 

Graduates of the Bachelor of Arts gain enhanced social awareness and sophisticated interpersonal skills which fit them to join the workforce as potential managers and leaders. Graduates are able to transfer the skills they acquire across many sectors such as government, education, the arts, and commerce and industry, where they work as administrators, archivists, art conservationists and curators, criminologists, editors, historians, journalists and media professionals, social workers, teachers and public relations and advertising professionals. Graduates are also well-placed to upgrade and increase their professionalskills within the Faculty by undertaking further professionally-related graduate diplomas.

Generic skills

Studying Linguistics and Applied Linguistics teaches a wide range of generic skills that are useful in many ways, it also provides specific skills that are central to a wide range of occupations.

Language teaching

Whether it's teaching foreign languages, or English as a second language, or travelling the world teaching English, Linguistics and Applied Linguistics lay essential foundations. Once teaching, higher qualifications in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics considerably increase your career prospects.

Information technology

As the IT industry rapidly expands direct interaction between people and machines the demand increases for linguists to work on speech recognition and synthesis, and on developing computers facility to interpret and generate natural language.

Speech therapy and speech pathology

A background in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics is a definite advantage in work helping people like stroke victims and the developmentally disabled overcome speech difficulties.

Translation and interpreting

Careers in translation and interpreting can be attractive in pay and conditions, and Linguistics and Applied Linguistics provide unique skills in cross-linguistic and cross-cultural communication. 

Working with Aboriginal communities

The languages and cultures of Australia's indigenous people are rapidly being lost, and many indigenous schools and communities employ trained linguists to help provide language and literacy materials. Linguists can also play a part in land-rights claims.

Employment in multicultural Australia

Training in linguistics provides skills that can lead to employment working with minority community groups, or with government to develop policies and programs on multilingualism and community languages.


Linguists are needed by publishers to work on language reference books such as dictionaries and thesauruses, and on language-teaching materials,and the demand for these kinds of books is huge.

Graduate profiles


Dailan Evans 


Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics) 1995

I remember the uncertainty when I first approached linguistics; what is a 'linguist' exactly? Who needs them? What do they look like and how much for a dozen?

I transferred from Architecture, you see, where a professional outcome was clear, over to this challenging land of self-determination call the Humanities. Where was the 'conveyor belt' to carry me to a career now? Nowhere. Dammit, I had to walk (or was it saunter?). A new horizon stretched out before me, and though the destination was still a little hazy, I could at least make out a more enjoyable path (the destination is still a little hazy I might add, but then the entertainment industry is not known for its certainty).

My early involvement in theatre lead to a real curiosity for human communication and it was this curiosity, as well as an attractive diversity of borrowed disciplines on offer within the department, that lead me to linguistics. the architect within me enjoyed dismantling language and assessing structure (he's since been asked to leave) and I developed and acute and sensitive awareness of many aspects of communication and nuance; an aptitude that comes in handy when trying to articulate the silly things we do. Here was an area of study that felt associated, practically, to all areas of study; the building blocks of language, the DNA of communication, if you will. My love of language was cultivated.

These days creative projects keep popping up, but with the desire of coupling 'artistic endeavour' with a parallel profession, I am also toying with a masters of speech pathology, for which a linguistics degree is a great underpinning. And I'll get paid to make silly sounds. I don't really call myself a 'linguist' nowadays, though in a sense I still am. It's semantics, I suppose...oh and you can study that too.

Michael Nieman 

Computational linguist ToggleText

Michael studied linguistics, mathematics and computer science at Melbourne University, completing a BSc and BA (Hons) in linguistics in 1997.

While still studying Michael worked on the Computer Aided Speech And Language Assessment project for the Bionic Ear Institute, helping develop a computer program assess children's speech development. Later he held a Summer Internship at the Microsoft Research Institute. Since then Michael has worked in the computer industry on machine translation and language technologies.

Studying linguistics gave Michael the technical background in language that prepared him for working with language technology. Looking back on his studies, he commented:

"Computers can't be expected to process natural language until a lot of questions about natural language are answered. It takes people with linguistic training to provide that analysis".

Christina Eira 

Research fellow - Aboriginal Research Institute, University of South Australia

While studying linguistics at Melbourne University Christina became interested in language politics. After finishing her PhD, Christina was employed by a Narungga community organisation to assist the Narungga reclaim their language, which has not been spoken fluently in the community for many years. This involves recovering as much of the language as possible from archives and community consultation, responding to community decisions about raising awareness about the results, and revising of the role of non-Indigenous research in the light of goals of Reconciliation. Christina commented:

"The linguistics Department at Melbourne Uni is great for its breadth and detail of descriptive linguistics, its strong base of Aboriginal linguistics, and its focus on cross-linguistic communication. Some of the staff were inspirational in their approach. During my PhD I was lucky enough to be invited to work with a Hmong ex-refugee community. The opportunity to work with a minority community was a great background for understanding the issues for communities with languages at risk, learning how to listen to groups in conflict, and how to apply linguistics skills to real needs of real people".