Homework for you

Essay On Linguistic Anthropology Careers

Rating: 4.0/5.0 (12 Votes)

Category: Essay


Careers using foreign languages

Careers using languages

A knowledge of one or more foreign languages can be useful in a wide range of careers. For some jobs, such as translating, interpreting and language teaching, language skills are one of the main requirements. For other jobs a combination of languages and other qualifications, knowledge or skills may be needed. For example, people with languages plus IT, law, finance or sales skills are much sought-after.

Specialist language occupations

These include working as a translator. interpreter. language teacher or linguist. For the former three you'll need an in-depth knowledge of one or more foreign languages. Linguists don't necessarily need to speak foreign languages, but such knowledge can be useful for them.

Though the terms interpreting/interpretation and translating/translation are often used interchangeably, these professions are different. There are many differences between the training, skills, and talents needed for each.


Translators translate written material from one language to another. The kind of material involved may include product manuals, business reports, business correspondence, legal documents, websites, subtitles for films, song lyrics, and literature.

To be a translator you need the ability to write and express yourself very well in the target language, usually your native tongue, and a good knowledge of the source language(s), usually foreign languages. Fluency in the source language(s) is not essential, but you definitely need an excellent understanding of the written version of the source language and the culture of the people who speak it. Specialist knowledge of other subjects, qualifications in translation, and membership of a professional association are also very useful.

Translators make great use of dictionaries, the internet, and other reference materials. Some also use translation memory software, such as TRADOS.

Many translators are self-employed and find clients themselves, and/or work for translation agencies, who find clients and arrange payment. There are also positions for in-house translators in some large organisations.

Translators are usually paid per word in the source language.


Interpreters work with the spoken word at conferences, meetings, trials, hospitals and anywhere else that interpretation is needed. There are two types of interpreting: simultaneous or conference interpreting and consecutive interpreting.

Simultaneous interpreting usually happens at big conferences and meetings and involves the interpreter sitting in a soundproof booth listening on headphones to delegates giving speeches in a foreign language and at the same time, speaking a translation in their (the interpreter's) native language into a microphone so that delegates who speak that language can understand what's going on. Simultaneous interpreting is a high-pressure, high-stress and usually well-paid job. Simultaneous interpreters often work in teams with each individual interpreting for 15-20 minutes at a time.

Consecutive interpreting involves giving a translation after speakers have spoken, and often translating in both directions between languages. Consecutive interpreting may occur at smaller meetings, discussions between politicians, business people and journalists, and also in courtrooms and hospitals

Interpreters have to be able to interpret both to and from their native language without using dictionaries or other references materials. They also have to be very good at listening and remembering what has been said in one language while simultaneously or consecutively providing a translation in another language. A good knowledge of the subjects under discussion is also essential.

Many interpreters are self-employed and find clients themselves, and/or work for agencies, who find the clients and handle payments. There are also positions for interpreters in some large organisations, such as the United Nations, governments and the military.

Language teaching and training

Language teaching may involve teaching a foreign language to students who share the same native language as you, or teaching your own language to speakers of other languages. Language teachers work in a variety of educational establishments from primary/elementary schools to universities and colleges.

There are many paths into language teaching: some people do a degree in a subject that interests them, then acquire a postgraduate qualification in teaching; some study education at undergraduate level; some start working as a teaching assistant, then later acquire professional teaching qualifications; some do some teaching while undertaking research.

Those teaching a foreign language need a near-native ability in that language, while a knowledge of other languages can be useful when teaching your native language to foreign students, especially to beginners.


Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Linguists study the nature and characteristics of human language. There are many different specializations under the umbrella of linguistics, including:

  • Phonetics. the study of the physical sounds of languages, particularly the production and perception of those sounds.
  • Phonology. the study of how sounds are organized and used in languages to encode meaning.
  • Morphology. the study of the internal structure of words.
  • Syntax. the study of the rules that govern the way the words in a sentence come together.
  • Semantics. the study of meaning.
  • Pragmatics. the study of the way language can communicate more than is explicitly stated.
  • Language acquisition. the study how we acquire our native language (first language acquisition), and how we learn other languages (second language acquisition).
  • Psycholinguistics. the study of the connection between thinking and the use of language.
  • Neurolinguistics. the study of the neural mechanisms involved in the comprehension, production and abstract knowledge of language.
  • Sociolinguistics. the study of the relationship between language and society.
  • Historical linguistics. the study of the origin of words.
  • Anthropological linguistics. the study of the relationship between language and culture.
  • Discourse analysis. the study of language in the context of conversation.

Linguists work for a range of organizations, including universities and colleges, high tech companies, research institutions, consulting firms, government, and the military.

Here's an illustration of the many overlaps between linguistics and other fields:

A talk by Ellen Jovin about some possible jobs and careers for polyglots.

Other links

Other articles

Linguistic: Department of Anthropology - Northwestern University

Linguistic anthropology is a concentration within Cultural Anthropology that emphasizes qualitative approaches to the study of language in society, with particular attention to the roles of verbal and written expression in social inequality, political economy, language ideology, immigration, law, colonialism, race, ethnicity, gender, generation, and class. Training for both undergraduate and graduate students emphasizes both methodological and theoretical approaches to the study of language and culture. Learn more about linguistic and cultural anthropology at Northwestern.

Undergraduate opportunities

Undergraduate students can explore the subfield through courses, research opportunities, and more. Review all undergraduate anthropology courses . 

Graduate program

Graduate students focusing on linguistic anthropology will develop not only fieldwork tools but also conceptual approaches to communication through a number of advanced seminars and methods course. Learn about graduate-level courses in linguistic anthropology .

Labs and field studies Linguistic Anthropology Laboratory

The linguistics laboratory provides a space for student training and analysis of the dynamic relationship between language and culture. Read more about the lab’s facilities and training opportunities .

Linguistic Anthropology: As a Branch of Anthropology

Linguistic Anthropology: As a Branch of Anthropology

Article shared by

Read this article to learn about Linguistic Anthropology: As a Branch of Anthropology !

It is another sub-field of cultural anthropology, which is concerned solely with language. But the study of languages as a discipline (linguistics) arose much before the birth of anthropology. It became close to anthropology for sometime during the first half of twentieth century but diverted afterwards.

At present, some of the cultural anthropologists specialize themselves in linguistics because language is an important aspect of human behaviour. Transmission of culture from one generation to other has been possible only for language.

Language enables man to preserve the traditions of the past and to make provisions of future. However, the anthropologists who study language in order to understand a culture help to form this distinct wing. They deal with the emergence and divergence of languages over time. Contemporary languages also belong to their attention.

There were a number of anthropologists whose interest revolved round this essential component of human culture. Edward Sapir (1921) defined language as a purely human and non-instinctive way of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols. Leslie A.

White in his book ‘The Science of Culture’ (1949) mentioned that all behaviours originated and based on man’s capacity to use symbols. In fact, use of symbols paved the way for communicable speech. Nineteenth century linguists were engaged in describing the languages and classifying them into families and sub-families on the basis of their similarities and dissimilarities.

The subject was then known as philology, not the linguistics. Anthropologists contributed to philology by studying languages spoken by the aboriginals. They broadened the horizon of philology by the reconstruction of lexical forms, grammar, sound patterns and in finding out the ancestral language. Thus, the field of linguists was closely linked with anthropology for several decades. But from 1950 onwards, a conceptual revolution took place; the two disciplines turned from each other.

At present anthropologists and linguists differ in their theme though both of them study languages. Linguists have always kept language isolated from the other activities of an ethnic group whereas anthropologists have never estimated language as an autonomous phenomenon; they treat it as a part of culture. However, linguistic anthropology has two parts.

The part, which deals with emergence and divergence of languages, is called historical linguistics and the other part, which offers the description of sound units, is called structural linguistics. Structural linguistics also discovers the rules that reveal how sounds and words are incorporated in actual speech. This aspect is known as socio-linguistics.

The pattern of speech varies from society to society on the basis of action, behaviour and communication. Cognitive anthropology is the outcome of linguistic anthropology, which employs the principles on which speakers of a particular language classify and conceptualize the phenomena. Anthropology in one way has learnt from the linguistics: on the other way has contributed to it.

How Do I Start a Career in Linguistic Anthropology? mobile wiseGEEK

wiseGEEK: How Do I Start a Career in Linguistic Anthropology?

A linguistic anthropologist studies the relationship between language and culture. To begin a career in linguistic anthropology. you will need to complete relevant education, learn one or more languages, and apply for jobs. Most linguistic anthropologists are employed in either academia or government.

A bachelor's degree is the first step toward a job in linguistic anthropology. If you do not yet have a bachelor's degree, you should consider selecting a major in anthropology, linguistics or a foreign language. This degree will usually take four years to complete.

During the last year of your bachelor's degree, you will probably want to begin applying to graduate school. Some research assistant jobs are available to those with only an undergraduate degree in anthropology, but most jobs require either a master's or Ph.D. Some graduate schools allow prospective students to begin their Ph.D. programs immediately after finishing a bachelor's degree, but most programs require completion of a master's degree first.

Completing a graduate degree in linguistic anthropology requires several steps. Generally, you will first take coursework in principles of anthropology and linguistics. You will also be required to study foreign languages, either ancient or modern, depending on the program and your research interests.

The next step is completion of a thesis for a master's degree or dissertation for a Ph.D. In linguistic anthropology, this is often a work of ethnography. which is research and writing on a particular culture. Frequently, ethnography requires living among a people group long enough to integrate into their society. In the case of linguistic anthropology, this involves studying their language and noting ways that language influences sociological relations.

Once you have finished your graduate degree, you are ready to begin applying for jobs as a linguistic anthropologist. If you have a Ph.D. you may be able to apply for tenure-track professor jobs at universities. A master's degree may qualify you to work as an adjunct professor. Some government careers in linguistic anthropology are also available. For example, the US government may hire linguistic anthropologists as advisers on cultural matters regarding regions where they have national interests.

There are a number of ways for finding linguistic anthropology jobs. Professors and researchers or the career center at the university where you worked on your degree may be able to refer you to open positions. Many job openings are also posted online.

Related wiseGEEK articles

Careers in Anthropology - Advance Your Career

Careers in Anthropology What are the job prospects for anthropologists?

The anthropology job market is competitive. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Employment of anthropologists and archaeologists is expected to grow four percent from 2014 to 2024. " (US Department of Labor ). 

The median pay for anthropologists and archaeologists in the United States was $61,220 in 2015. 

Citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition. Anthropologists and Archeologists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/anthropologists-and-archeologists.htm (visited October 25, 2016 ).  

Where are anthropologists working?

Today's anthropologists do not just work in exotic locations. Anthropologists can be found in a surprising array of fields and careers, not least of which being mother-of-the-President of the United States of America. Anthropologists can be found in corporations, all levels of government, educational institutions and non-profit associations. Anthropologists work in disaster areas, including Ground Zero in New York and the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

Today there are four main career paths for anthropology graduates:

Academic Careers

On campuses, in departments of anthropology, and in research laboratories, anthropologists teach and conduct research. They spend a great deal of time preparing for classes, writing lectures, grading papers, working with individual students, composing scholarly articles, and writing books.

A number of academic anthropologists find careers in other departments or university programs, such as schools of medicine, epidemiology, public health, ethnic studies, cultural studies, community or area studies, linguistics, education, ecology, cognitive psychology and neural science.

Corporate and Business Careers

Many corporations look explicitly for anthropologists, recognizing the utility of their perspective on a corporate team. A corporate anthropologist working in market research might conduct targeted focus groups to examine consumer preference patterns not readily apparent through statistical or survey methods. These anthropologists use their research skills to talk to consumers and users of technology to find out how products and services could be improved to better meet the needs of consumers.

Government Careers

State and local governmental organizations use anthropologists in planning, research and managerial capacities. Contract archaeology is a growing occupation with state and federal legislative mandates to assess cultural resources affected by government funded projects. Forensic anthropologists, in careers glamorized by Hollywood and popular novels, not only work with police departments to help identify mysterious or unknown remains but also work in university and museum settings.

The federal government is one of the largest employers of anthropologists outside of academia. Possible career paths include: international development, cultural resource management, the legislative branch, forensic and physical anthropology, natural resource management, and defense and security sectors.

Non-profit and Community-based Careers

Non-governmental organizations, such as international health organizations and development banks employ anthropologists to help design and implement a wide variety of programs. However, these aren't the only opportunities available.

Many anthropologists work in local, community-based settings for non-profit agencies. Sometimes, they work through community-based research organizations like the Institute for Community Research. Other times, they might work for established organizations in a community like the YMCA, local schools, or environmental organizations.

In response to a survey by the American Anthropological Association's Committee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropology (CoPAPIA) *, respondents provided the following responses to describe their post-graduate employment:

Areas of Anthropological Study

Sociocultural Anthropology  - Examines social patterns and practices across cultures

  • Archaeology  - Studies past people and cultures through the analysis of material remains
  • Biological Anthropology  - Studies human and non-human primates past and present from ecological and evolutionary perspectives, addressing the intersection of behavior, culture and biology and how these systems impact health and well-being
  • Linguistic Anthropology - Studies the ways in which language reflects and influences social life
  • Medical Anthropology - Seeks to better understand factors that influence peoples' health and well being
  • Forensic Anthropology - Analyzes skeletal, decomposed, or otherwise unidentified human remains to aid in detection of crime
  • Business Anthropology - Applies anthropological theories and methods to identify and solve business problems
  • Visual Anthropology  - Uses images for the description, analysis, communication and interpretation of behavior
  • Environmental Anthropology  - Examines how people interact with, respond to, and bring about changes in the environment 
  • Museum Anthropology - Studies the history of museums, their role in society, and changes in this role
  • Check out some of the stories below and learn more about the life-altering work of anthropologists.  

    There are many great reasons why studying anthropology should be considered by undergraduate and master's students. First, the material is intellectually exciting. Additionally, anthropology prepares students for excellent jobs and opens doors to various career paths. To learn more about careers in anthropology, please continue reading about Career Paths and Education .

    Additional Career Resources

    Versatile PhD - The Versatile PhD  mission is to help humanities and social science (and STEM as of July 2013) graduate students identify and prepare for possible non-academic careers. We want them to be informed about academic employment realities, educated about non-academic career options, and supported towards a wide range of careers, so that in the end, they have choices. 

    icould: Inspiration for your career - Use our Career Wizard  to find jobs that may suit you.

    Professional Development webinar with Riall Nolan - The webinar topic is professional development and career building for anthropologists outside of the academy. Program topics will include CV writing, job search tips, interviewing and more.
    - View the recorded session on WebEx or on the AAA YouTube channel  
    - Download the PowerPoint presentation

    Academic & Professional Resource Documents  - Centre for Comparative Literature University of Toronto

    The Professor Is In   - Getting Your Through Graduate School, The Job Market and Tenure…

    Survival Blog for Scientists  - Professional scientists write about their scientific life. Contributors are scientists in various stages of their career: from junior to senior. The aim is to supply scientists with tips on how to survive in science.

    Get a Life, PhD  - Succeed in Academia and Have a Life Too

    You Might Also Like