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Careers for majors in Linguistics and Cognitive Science of Language

Linguistics and the Cognitive Science of Language programs bring together the strengths of a Humanities education (critical, analytical, and problem solving skills accompanied by strong communication skills) and the hands-on skills typical for Science (rigorous laboratory experience, programming experience, experimental and statistical skills). This cutting-edge skill set is accompanied by an in-depth knowledge of language structures, their functioning and their behavioural and neurological reflections. Such a unique package of skills lends itself to a wide variety of career opportunities, successfully explored by recent graduates.

Some examples include:

  • speech and language pathology and audiology
  • teaching (teaching English as a second language, teaching and learning of foreign languages, education, literacy)
  • natural language processing/computing
  • software development for gaming, education, industry
  • translation/interpretation
  • foreign service/diplomacy
  • journalism
  • law
  • business
  • travel industry
  • intelligence service (CSE)
  • psychological sciences
  • language preservation and linguistic fieldwork

In short, our graduates are well prepared for a fast changing and globalized world.

If you are interested in learning more about the type of education we offer and how these skills are viewed by companies looking for new employers, please continue reading. The pointers below both talk about
how companies view our undergraduates, but also address the issue of their long-term career promotion and prospects. We also suggest you look at the Linguistics Society of America website for some further suggestions.

Harvard Business Review in its recent blog writes, citing Amos Shapira, the CEO of Cellcom, the leading cell
phone provider in Israel “The knowledge I use as CEO can be acquired in two weeks…The main thing a student needs to be taught is how to study and analyze things (including) history and philosophy.”
According to this blog, liberal arts students excel in:

  • complexity and ambiguity
  • innovation
  • communication and presentation
  • customer and employee satisfaction

Harvard Business Review in a different blog cites Steve Jobs: “Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that makes our hearts sing.”

Companies hiring these days are perfectly aware of the type of skills our undergraduates bring to their workforce. Here’s another quote from The Hechinger Report: “Nearly 90 percent of corporate executives want employees with verbal and written communication skills, according to a survey by the AAC&U.
Seventy-five percent want graduates who understand ethical decision-making, and 70 percent say they need creative and innovative workers.”

You may worry that as a graduate of a humanities program, your income might not be as high as coming from other types of education. In fact, as this study shows liberal arts students are more likely to get promoted in their job as they possess the type of skills which is required for higher level positions. An informal summary of the study can be found here.

If you have any questions, or would like to explore more career options, please do not hesitate to contact our undergraduate counsellors. Also, make sure you use the career services provided by McMaster University who also provide more information on careers available to our graduates.

You may also check out The Humanities Target Learning and  Experiential Education Centre which offers general career advice and career oriented events for Humanities students.

Note: If you are the owner of any of the excertps cited above and you have any questions or concern, please contact us at lingdept@mcmaster.ca.