Career Options

Below are some of our recent graduates and their career profiles, followed by a detailed description on many career paths available for linguistics majors. 

Alumni Profile: Courtney Zelinsky

Courtney Zelinsky graduated in 2013 with a BA in Linguistics. She was also a Japanese major, French minor and earned Asian Studies Certificate.  She is currently working as a Data Scientist at The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Courtney says:

"I think many people perceive working with text data as being “fuzzier” than working with numeric data. Linguistics, however, teaches us that language does have structure and lots of it. The core curriculum teaches how to break down different components of language, whether they can be physically measured (sign position, formant frequencies) or whether they have a more theoretical basis, like syntax. At a more advanced level, Special Topics in Applied Linguistics for example even introduced me to neural networks in discussions of connectionist models for language acquisition, and now I have some understanding of what back propagation is and why it’s important. At PNC, I am using my experience with text data to help improve digital experiences with personal banking."

Alumni Profile: Minas Abovyan

Minas Abovyan earned his BA in Linguistics in 2014 with a double-major in Neuroscience and a minor in Chemistry. He is currently a Computational Linguist at Google, where he works on text processing and classification. Minas says:

"Tech companies are recognizing that candidates with backgrounds in linguistics, cognitive science, neuroscience, etc. bring a lot to the table having conducted research, being versed with statistics, and even having some experience with programming. As you wrap up your studies and begin to interview for positions, find those companies whose people recognize that both your experience and your diversity are assets."

Alumni Profile: Sarah Sleasman

Sarah Sleasman graduated in 2013 with BA in Linguistics. She also completed Spanish major, Latin American Studies certificate and Chinese minor. Since graduating, she taught English as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at Universidad Nacional del Altiplano in Puno, Peru. She then graduated with MA in Second Language Studies from Indiana University (Bloomington). She is currently teaching Spanish at Somerset Christian School. Sarah has the following advice for linguistics majors:

"Take advantage of the resources the Linguistics department provides for its students. Get to know your advisor. Go to professors' office hours. Get connected with Yinzling. Seek out research and internship opportunities. Linguists are working in so many fields that I never imagined when I began taking classes.  Professional networking aside, the faculty, staff, and students you'll meet in the Linguistics department are some of the most wonderful people on campus, and you'll be more fulfilled for having known them!"

Alumni Profile: Steve Sloto

Steve Sloto (pictured left) earned his BA in Linguistics in 2015 with a double-major in Anthropology. After teaching English in Turkey on Fulbright Scholarship, he currently works as Machine Translation Systems Engineer at Amazon Pittsburgh. Steve says:

"Pitt linguistics gave me skills and background knowledge that I have applied in the real world, in computer programming, annotation, and English language teaching. The courses available are both rigorous, and (in my humble opinion) fun. During my time as a linguistics undergrad, I got to learn about language from a variety of perspectives, and apply that knowledge through research opportunities and an internship."

Alumni Profile: Shipra Kumar

Shipra Kumar earned a B.A. magna cum laude in Linguistics and Economics with a French minor. She is now Associate Attorney at Matasar Jacobs LLC.

She writes:  "In law, language is everything. Every day, I interpret provisions in contracts, draft motions and briefs, and communicate with clients, opposing counsel, and others. My linguistics training made me curious about word choice and grammar, and that helps me when I interpret and draft legal documents."

Many of our recent graduates have gone on to careers in the following areas:

Industry: Linguistics have many applications in industries beyond academia, including publishing, testing, medicine, and more. Our focus on strong theoretical foundations with an emphasis on real-world applications and internships prepare our students for industry careers. 

Tech industry: Another strength in our curriculum is computational training, which equip our students to work on speech recognition, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, user interface research, and more. Pittsburgh is fast becoming a new technology hub; our graduates continue to land positions at local and national technology companies.

English as a Second Language (ESL): Many of our students are currently teaching English abroad, some through CLS and Fulbright. Our majors prepare through taking courses in second language acquisition and volunteering opportunities at the ELI (English Language Institute), an integral part of our department. We also offer the TESOL certificate, often needed to teach ESL in the US, which some of our majors pursue after graduation. 

Foreign Language Education: Many of our students double major in a foreign language and have gone on to become foreign language teachers. Linguistics can give you a valuable cross-language perspective. 

Higher Education: If you go on to get a graduate degree in linguistics you might teach in departments such as Linguistics, Philosophy, Psychology, Speech/Communication Sciences, Anthropology, English, as well as departments focused on specific foreign languages. 

Here are some other career opportunities relating to linguistics:

  • Work in government: The federal government hires linguists for the Foreign Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Security Agency (NSA), and more. 
  • Work on language documentation, conduct field work, or be part of language conservation effort
  • Work in the publishing industry, as a technical writer, or as a journalist
  • Work for a testing agency
  • Work as a translator or interpreter
  • Work with dictionaries (lexicography)
  • Work for an advertising or branding company
  • Become a consultant on language in professions such as law, medicine or entertainment industry