Computational Linguist

Develop computers that can understand and mimic language.
picture of Computational Linguist

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$58,000 – $153,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Computational Linguists do?

Computational Linguists teach computers how to understand regular, human language. While computers are often compared to the human brain, these brains aren’t connected to ears and mouths. As a result, even the most sophisticated computer can’t listen, speak, and comprehend like people do. That’s where the Computational Linguist comes in.

Thanks to past breakthroughs in computational linguistics, computers can already understand basic voice commands, read typed text aloud, and learn speech patterns for the purpose of talk-to-text transcription. Unfortunately, they don’t do any of these tasks particularly well. Therefore, it’s your job as a Computational Linguist to enhance and expand their capabilities, which eventually will allow for the complete automation of tasks associated with the translation, transcription, generation, and comprehension of language.

Part Computer Scientist and part Interpreter, you’re at once a Linguist, a Translator, a Psychologist, and a Computer Programmer, as it’s your job to research how humans learn, develop, and use language, then devise a way to mimic those processes in computers. To accomplish that, you typically spend your days as a Computational Linguist studying the rules of language — spelling, syntax, grammar, punctuation, and semantics, in English as well as foreign languages — and working with Software Developers to create computer programs capable of following those rules in order to understand and generate natural speech.

The result: Someday, computers will be able to help an Intelligence Analyst translate Arabic into English, a Journalist transcribe interviews, and a vision-impaired child do her homework by reading the contents of a web page.

Should I be a Computational Linguist?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.
  • High Achiever: You love the challenge of tackling difficult work.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.

  • How to become a Computational Linguist

    Most Computational Linguists have a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaab9n&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%282%25%29|master%27s+%2880%25%29|doctorate+%2818%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,80
    Schools close to

    Careers Similar to Computational Linguist