Linguistic anthropologists are social scientists who study the use, structure and influence of languages.
These professionals may attempt to document endangered languages, or research the history and evolution of one or several languages. They may also study the role of language in relation to a range of topics such as:
Linguistic anthropologists may work as individual consultants or contribute to larger research teams. Some may teach students, conduct research and publish papers as university or college professors. Depending on their area of expertise and work setting, these professionals may also be required to make public presentations and attend professional conferences.
Linguistic anthropologists should have advanced knowledge of linguistics, anthropology, history and other related disciplines. Strong research, communication and analytical skills are also key to succeeding in this field. In addition, linguistic anthropologists may be required to travel, work independently or collaborate with different groups or individuals.
Most linguistic anthropologists have at least a bachelor’s degree in linguistic anthropology, linguistics, anthropology or a related social science. A master’s or doctoral degree in linguistic anthropology is required for professionals seeking careers as post-secondary educators or high-level researchers.
Depending on their desired field, linguistic anthropologists may also benefit from ongoing, supplemental training in relevant professional and academic areas. Linguistic anthropologists seeking international research positions may also benefit from training related to specific countries, cultures or populations.
The salary for linguistic anthropologists often varies depending on their location, employer and area of expertise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, anthropologists earned a median hourly wage of $58,040 in 2010. Professionals on the lowest end of the pay scale earned an average of $31,310 while those on the highest end averaged $89,440.
The job outlook for anthropologists is considered particularly strong, with 22 percent job growth predicted through 2018 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects. This faster than average growth is attributed to developments in the scientific and consulting services industry as well as the anticipated retirement of aging anthropologists.