How to: Get a career in forensic linguistics

When it comes to forensic linguistics, words are everything…

If you’re passionate about language, you’re probably looking for a career where you can put your analytical skills and attention to detail to good use. And not only does a career in forensic linguistics allow you to work with words all day long – you’ll also have the opportunity to solve crimes.

To give you a glimpse into the life of a modern day Sherlock (of the language world), here’s everything you need to know about getting a career in forensic linguistics:


What is forensic linguistics?

Forensic linguistics is a broad term that looks at the relationship between language and law.

It commonly refers to the linguistic examination of both written and spoken legal texts – whether it’s private wills, suicide letters, emergency calls, or witness statements – in order to decipher messages, understand meaning, and ultimately solve crimes.

The specific type of text involved will vary depending on what areas of forensic research are being studied – and any form of text can be considered a forensic transcript when used in a legal or criminal context.

Forensic linguistics could encompass the following areas:

  • Law – involves the interpretation of legal texts, and the investigation of plagiarism and copyright infringement
  • Legal processes – involves courtroom interpretation, investigative interviewing, and police interviews
  • Evidence – involves analysing statements, confessions, and suicide notes
  • Teaching & research – involves teaching forensic linguistics, studying the value of evidence, and researching new techniques

What can I do with my law degree?

What can I do with my English degree?


What does a Forensic Linguist do?

Forensic Linguists examine written and verbal evidence, to help uncover the correct meaning behind a range of texts found in legal proceedings.

It could involve anything from identifying a criminal through the examination of their writing style, to figuring out whether a person is lying through linguistic analysis of their speech.

Based on their in-depth examination, they’re then able to spot patterns and make informed judgments based on a range of factors – including word choice, sentence structure, dialect, and vocabulary.

The conclusions they reach could help to determine the outcome of a criminal case.

How to become a Forensic Scientist


What type of texts do Forensic Linguists analyse?

The type of texts a Forensic Linguist deals with depends on the case they’re assigned to, and the type of crime that’s being investigated.

As a Forensic Linguist, you may examine:

  • Contracts
  • Wills
  • Confessions
  • Phone call transcripts
  • Suicide notes
  • Ransom letters
  • Product warnings
  • Trademarks and copyrights
  • Witness statements
  • Police interview transcripts
  • Courtroom transcripts
  • Texts, emails, and other forms of electronic communication


Forensic linguistics salary expectations

Average salaries for Forensic Linguists are around £35,000 – with those new to the industry earning around £25,000.

Experienced Forensic Linguists could stand to earn up to £60,000.

Salary calculator


How can I get a career in forensic linguistics?

Starting a career in forensic linguistics isn’t always easy – and you’ll need a range of relevant skills, experience, and qualifications to break into the industry.



Aside from having an in-depth knowledge of linguistic analysis techniques, and an awareness of how language influences meaning – you’ll also need to be a number of soft skills to break into the industry.

Majoring on the following in your CV will also help your application stand out to recruiters:

  • Curiosity
  • Observational skills
  • Patience and determination
  • Attention to detail
  • Good communication skills
  • Tact and discretion
  • Passion for language and linguistics
  • Knowledge of legal procedures

Skills based CV template



The level of education needed to start a career in forensic linguistics may vary, but most employers will look for candidates with a postgraduate degree in forensic linguistics.

Common undergraduate subject choices include linguistics, English, foreign languages, computer science, communications, and philosophy.

Taking courses in sociology, psychology, and human behaviour (as well as programmes related to forensic tools and techniques) are also a great way to gain a better understanding of the field – not to mention make you stand out from the crowd.

Learning another language could also be essential for roles involving translation. And, for more senior positions– a PhD is usually essential.

Which parts of my education should I include in my CV?


Work experience

Generally, employers will place more precedence on your education rather than your direct work experience – but entering forensic lingustics as a new field can still be tough if you don’t have any practical expertise.

After gaining a degree – try volunteering or getting a work placement at an organisation you’re looking to work at (even if the job isn’t exactly what you want to do) – as this is a great way to get your foot in the door and progress upwards to a permanent position.

Experience in similar fields such as social work, translating, or psychology may improve your chances of being considered, as it will prove to employers that you’re able to understand human behaviour.

And, any previous experience in law will also improve your knowledge of legal proceedings, and help you to better understand the processes involved with forensic linguistics.

How to: Get work experience


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