Trace the origins of words.
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Quick Stats


Salary Range
$43,000 – $116,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Etymologists do?

An Etymologist studies the often intricate histories of words. It’s a job that requires linguistic skills; an inquisitive, creative mind; and often some Detective abilities. As an Etymologist, you spend most of your time in offices, libraries, and research facilities, but when the situation calls for it, you may journey out into the part of the world you’re studying, and look for firsthand evidence to advance your cases.

This evidence can take many forms. Sometimes, it’s words scrawled on a cave wall or carved in the stone of a building. Or, it could be a scrap of parchment under glass in a museum or library.

Some older people or small communities are themselves the keys to word origins and their evolutions. Traveling in person to meet with these groups is often essential to unlocking whole new avenues of knowledge.

Entering the field of etymology is a labor of love. The hours are long and recognition is often lacking. However, discerning the mystery of a particular word root or tracing its path of development through time and across continents is its own reward.

Etymologists find work in a variety of settings: research organizations, libraries, schools. You can even publish your works in magazines or books. Giving presentations about new discoveries in your chosen concentration can also be part of your regular routine.

Should I be an Etymologist?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • How to become an Etymologist

    We recommend at least a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's. Check out these schools offering Etymologist-related education!
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