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Linguists study human language. They carry out scientific research on the structure, development, and use of languages. Linguists also develop machine languages based on linguistic theories.

Also Known As

Language Specialist, Language Researcher, 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

  • 4169.5: Linguists

2006 NOC-S

  • E038: Other Professional Occupations in Social Science

2011 NOC

  • 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

2016 NOC

  • 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c.

2021 NOC

  • 41409: Other professional occupations in social science

2023 OaSIS

  • 41409.06: Political scientists
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Linguists study language by analyzing:

  • Word meanings and the meaning of phrases and sentences
  • The structure of words, phrases, and sentences
  • Sound systems, sounds, and their properties and structure
  • The production and perception of speech
  • How speech is processed and produced in the brain
  • How children and adults learn language
  • Language development, use, and change
  • Speech errors
  • Discourse structure
  • The forms and functions of language
  • Language preservation
  • Elements shared by human languages
  • The ways in which languages differ around the world
  • The function and role of language in various cultures
  • The ways in which languages change over time and how this helps us understand our human history

Linguists apply their knowledge in various areas.

In the health sciences, linguists study:

  • Language disorders
  • The relationship between language and brain function

In the cultural field, linguists:

  • Develop language preservation material for First Nations people
  • Teach language instructors
  • Develop guidelines, technical methodologies, and instructional materials for language instructors
  • Do translation and word processing
  • Develop dictionaries
  • Write speeches and edit text

In law enforcement or security services, they identify speakers or writers for forensic purposes.

In finance or insurance, they identify patterns in fraud such as false insurance claims.

In computational linguistics, they model natural languages. They also study linguistics using computational methods. They develop software and databases for:

  • Document retrieval
  • Grammar checking
  • Information extraction from written text
  • Machine language simulation
  • Machine translation
  • Natural language interfaces
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Linguists often work standard hours in an office setting. Some linguists conduct field work for data collection.

Teachers and researchers may work long hours. For more information about linguists who work in post-secondary schools, see the University Professor occupational profile.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Linguists need:

  • Above-average academic skills
  • Argumentation and analysis skills
  • Self-management skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills
  • The ability to concentrate for long periods of time on precise, detailed work
  • An interest in languages

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
  • Coordinating the work of others
  • Taking a methodical approach to their work
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

The minimum educational requirement in this field is a 4-year bachelor of arts (BA) degree with a specialization in linguistics. 

Graduate degrees are required for post-graduate training in:

  • Language teaching
  • Speech pathology
  • Teaching and research positions in universities and colleges
  • Technological and software development fields
  • Translation

Advanced work in linguistics most often requires knowledge of programming and statistical analysis.

Those studying other languages do not need to be fluent in the language, but it helps.

Computational linguists tend to have degrees in computer science, data science, or computational linguistics.

Required Education

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

Related Education

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

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Certification Not Regulated

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Linguists work for:

  • The federal government
  • Security organizations
  • Commercial organizations such as software development companies and localization companies
  • Finance, insurance, or other organizations that need specialists to analyze complex data sets
  • Telecommunication or social media companies
  • Private or public schools
  • Post-secondary institutions
  • Overseas organizations in the field of educational development and literacy programs

Linguists at the graduate level get training on data analysis skills. Most earn programming certifications as well. Many students enter other fields after graduation.

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

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. occupational group, 80.2% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 4169: Other professional occupations in social science, n.e.c. occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.5% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 3 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2022

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

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

2016 NOC: 4169
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 4169 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $21.00 $42.06 $32.76 $33.00
Overall $23.25 $55.54 $44.68 $43.11
Top $25.00 $80.04 $54.73 $50.69

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

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 Mar 31, 2022

Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics website:

Canadian Linguistic Association website:

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

Updated Mar 31, 2022. 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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