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Linguists study human language and speech, and carry out scientific research on the structure, development and use of human languages.

  • Avg. Salary $77,751.00
  • Avg. Wage $43.03
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Language Specialist, Research Scientist, Social Scientist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Linguists (4169.5) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Professional Occupations in Social Science (E038) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. (4169) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. (4169) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Linguist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).

Interest in co-ordinating information to reconstruct and decipher ancient languages and to investigate computer applications in language studies and communications


Interest in consulting with other linguists and related professionals concerning research activities; and to advise government on language programs


Interest in identifying and classifying ancient and modern languages according to their families and origins, and in recording previously written languages in standardized written form

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Jan 31, 2017

Linguists study language by analyzing:

  • word meaning and the meaning of phrases and sentences
  • the structure of phrases and sentences
  • sound systems and their structure
  • properties shared by human languages
  • ways in which languages differ
  • language development, use and change
  • speech errors
  • discourse structure
  • the form and function of language.

Linguists may apply their knowledge in a wide variety of areas including:

  • language disorders and the acquisition of language in children
  • the function and role of language in various cultures
  • the ways in which languages change over time and the ways in which this helps us understand our human history
  • software and database development (natural language interfaces, document retrieval and information extraction from written text, machine translation)
  • identifying speakers or writers for forensic purposes
  • teaching language instructors and developing related guidelines, technical methodologies and instructional materials
  • language and brain function
  • development of language material for First Nations people
  • language, translation and word processing
  • development of software for grammar checking
  • dictionary development.
Working Conditions
Updated Jan 31, 2017

Linguists often work standard hours in an office environment but some field work may be required for data collection. Teachers and researchers may work long hours.

For more information about linguists who work in a post-secondary environment, see the University Professor occupational profile.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Jan 31, 2017

Linguists need to possess:

  • an interest in languages
  • above-average academic skills
  • good argumentation and analysis skills
  • the ability to concentrate for long periods of time on precise, detailed work.

Linguists should be open to and accepting of diverse cultural patterns, especially as these apply to language behaviour. They should value all languages, even those spoken by few people, as equally valid means of communication. Linguists should enjoy exploring things in depth, using research to find solutions to problems, making decisions, co-ordinating the work of others and taking a methodical approach to their work.

Educational Requirements
Updated Jan 31, 2017

The minimum educational requirement in this field is a 4-year bachelor of arts (BA) degree with a specialization in linguistics. Additional graduate work is usually required. A BA provides the foundation for this graduate work in linguistics or the psychology of language, and for post-graduate training in translation, language teaching and speech pathology or language pathology. A working knowledge of more than 1 language is required for advanced work in linguistics. Graduate degrees are required for speech pathology and for teaching and research positions in universities and colleges.

Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

University of Alberta

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Jan 31, 2017

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Jan 31, 2017

Linguists may be employed by:

  • the federal government
  • private or public schools
  • overseas organizations in the field of educational development and literacy programs
  • telecommunication agencies such as telephone companies
  • commercial organizations such as software development companies.

Advancement generally takes the form of being assigned more complex projects. Opportunities to advance to supervisory or management positions are limited.

Linguists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4169: Other Professional Occupations in Social Science. In Alberta, 79% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook (PDF) in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Jan 31, 2017

Linguists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $25.00 $41.44 $34.37 $34.03
Overall $30.84 $55.02 $43.03 $41.18
Top $34.52 $64.72 $48.62 $44.88

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Humanities and Languages
Other Sources of Information
Updated Jan 31, 2017

Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics website:

Canadian Linguistic Association website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Jan 31, 2017. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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