How To Become An Etymologist
Career Video: Etymologist
Do you love the study of language, history, culture, and communications? Are you intrigued by the origins of words and their meanings? Do you like to solve mysteries and conduct research regarding the parts of words, interpretations, and the development of languages? Would you like to use your knowledge of linguistics to help advance technological tools and information for others? If you are detail oriented, love to research, and have a passion for the minute aspects of language, you could enjoy a career as an etymologist.
Why Become An Etymologist
Etymologists are researchers, scholars, and teachers of linguistics. They study the emergence and history of languages, more specifically individual words, their origins, and how they have developed throughout time. Etymology is important to understanding past and present communication. Without etymology, we would be unable to understand the relationship among various languages or why particular words came into existence. Literally meaning “the study of (logia) true sense (etymon)”, etymology helps us to understand syntax, lexicon, and other linguistic aspects of humanity.
Etymologists provide others with these answers, but everyone can benefit from the knowledge of etymology. Engineering, medical, legal, and other professional students can understand important and relevant terminology by studying parts of words and their meanings. They can help verify a newly discovered piece of literature. Their research has helped establish communications with animals, as well as improve the use of American Sign Language. Their work with technology has also been foundational to computer languages and programming. Etymologists discover and share this valuable information with some of the most vital occupations to society.
To become an etymologist, it is important to have the following qualities and skills:
- Active learner
- Research oriented
- Excellent communication skills
- Culturally savvy
- Problem solver
- Historical aptitude
- Detail oriented
Etymologist Work Environment
It’s difficult to ascertain an exact location where etymologists work; however, the majority can be found in research settings, libraries, and educational facilities. During research, etymologists can find information anywhere: libraries, museums, archeological sites, and ancient dwellings. It is also important for etymologists to locate humans, either individuals or groups, who can shed light on the languages passed down from generation to generation.
Many etymologists work as professors and researchers. Industries that employ etymologists include the government, military, and technology companies. They are crucial to discovering and teaching the origins of words to others. They typically work long hours and can spend much of their time focusing on just one word or a part of a word.
An etymologist can earn an annual salary anywhere between $43,000 and $116,000. Salary is contingent upon experience, education, and employment. Professors and researchers can expect to make a lower salary than their counterparts who work in the technology industry. Most can expect to receive health, vacation, and retirement benefits through employment. An advanced degree is a pathway toward a higher salary.
Etymologist Career Outlook
The career outlook for etymology is good, especially in industries that develop and refine computer languages and other language technologies (thesaurus, dictionary, and interpretation software). Original research is rare at present, but the study of languages is still an important aspect of the scholarly community. As technological advancements occur, more people with a sophisticated understanding of language will be sought after.
Most positions in etymology require a doctorate, in both research and teaching. However, many positions exist for individuals with at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related program.
Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree. Most entry-level employment will require at least a bachelor’s degree. Programs that will prepare individuals for linguistic studies include English, a foreign language, library science, education, or linguistics. However, most jobs in etymology will require a graduate degree.
Step 2: Earn a master’s degree. Earning a master’s degree in linguistics, English, phonetics, or another relevant program can help an aspiring etymologist find a job in an applied field or prepare for doctoral study, leading to research. Often, individuals with a master’s degree can act as assistant researches, or they can work with computer programming, language programs, or other fields where their knowledge can serve a practical purpose.
Step 3: Earn a doctoral degree. Although individuals with other degrees can work in the field of etymology, it isn’t until an individual obtains a Ph.D. that he or she can be an independent etymological researcher. The purpose of this degree is to find original research and discover the answers to lingual mysteries. Etymologists at this level must become published and continue to research. They may choose to teach at a college or university; their path is one of academia and leadership.