Career in Etymology

4 minute read

Etymology is, interestingly, the study of why things came to be known by their specific names. For instance, why is a ‘bag’ is called a ‘bag’ or a ‘pencil’ as a ‘pencil’? It dives deep into the evolution of words, the intermixing of various languages and how humans distort some words over time, among others. It draws heavily from fields of linguistics, languages and communication studies as well as from psychology, sociology and history. Areas, where etymology apply, have been growing throughout the ages and with the explosion of digital media tools and the prevalent usage of connotations, colloquial and vernacular terms, all this has led to the demand of individuals with a solid yet multidimensional grasp over related spheres increasingly exciting.

Related Article: Language Translator Jobs

What is Etymology?

Made up of ‘logia’ meaning ‘study of’ and ‘etymon’ implying ‘true sense’, etymology aims to answer the question of origins of language, its extinct and existent forms, cultural influence in shape of music and art and overall communication methods in the past as well as present. In particular, it comes under the arena of linguistics. Specific research areas include syntax, lexical typology, phonology, derivational morphology, semantics, etc. Popular works combine ethnicities, identities, geographical mobility, media and culture, entertainment, populism, and so forth.

Also Read: Career in Foreign Language

Job of an Etymologist

Commonly employed by research organisations, universities and governments, etymologists assist in reading, collection and interpretation of texts along with drawing patterns akin to current linguistic studies. The emergence of technology has added impetus to the ongoing research in this discipline and now etymologists also engage in studies of computer languages and programming, translation, applied linguistics, cognition, digital language learning, etc. 

Quick Read: Language Translator

How to Become an Etymologist?

In order to start a career in this field as a full-fledged etymologist, you can follow the following steps:

Read and Learn Literary Texts

Having an interest in reading, learning and analysis texts, whatever that may be, is an important trait if you wish to venture into this area. Begin with classics, modern age materials, language studies, communication, Adorno, Noam Chomsky, etc and anything else you can put your hands on. Etymology is an intensive field and at earlier stages, getting to know the literature is extremely important.

Choose Your Area of Interest

Owing to the vast nature of the etymology, picking up a specific area of interest plays a vital role in your further educational development. This includes anything from a particular language [English, Spanish, French, etc], translation, library sciences, etc.

Pursue a Specialized Degree

A degree in etymology, linguistics or languages equips you with the much-needed tools and techniques for a solid career in research. While at the bachelor’s level, a BA English Literature or a general Bachelor of Arts keeps you in good standing, it is recommended that individuals pursue advanced degrees like MA English Literature, MA Linguistics, PhD in English, PhD in Linguistics, PhD in Translation Studies, etc.

Etymology: Major Courses and Universities

As Etymology is a part of linguistic studies, course offerings across the globe inculcate it as major/minor/specialisation within degree programs in this domain. Here are a few renowned universities recognised for linguistics as well as their prospective programs that you can pursue to make a career in Etymology.

Name of
the University
Location THE
Stanford University USA 4th BA in Linguistics
MA in Linguistics
PhD in Linguistics
University of
Canada 18th BA Linguistics [Hons]BA Psycholinguistics [Hons]MA Linguistics
PhD Linguistics
University of
UK 30th MS Linguistics
MSc Developmental Linguistics
MSc Evolution of Language
& Cognition
The University of
Australia 32nd BA [Linguistics & Applied
Linguistics]Grad. Cert. in Linguistics
& Applied Linguistics
Master of Applied Linguistics
The University of
Hong Kong
Hong Kong 35th MA Linguistics
Singapore 48th BA in Psychology/Linguistics &
Multilingual Studies
MA Applied Linguistics
University of
The Netherlands 62nd BA Linguistics
MA Linguistics
MA [Research] Linguistics

Career Scope

Being an Etymologist means hours of reading, deducing, and understanding patterns, dates of words being used, history of the word, and descriptions of words. Since languages and their branches are deeply interconnected, an etymologist must also understand the Greek, Sanskrit, Arabic, or Latin origination of words. Being an aspect of linguistics, etymologists work as:

  • Lexicographers
  • Translators
  • Language Teachers
  • Language assistants
  • Proof Readers
  • Speech and Language guides
  • Researchers


Depending on the type of job, place, company, and position, the pay of an etymologist varies accordingly. The salary also depends upon your level of expertise and skill set. On average, an etymologist can earn about $40,000- $62,290 (INR 29,35,176- 45,70,802) p.a.

Fun Fact: The word ‘Salary’ has nothing to do with money! It is said that earlier Roman soldiers were often paid/dealt in salt and hence,  Salary comes from the Latin adjective word ‘salārius’ (wage) and salārium (salt money). 


Who invented the word etymology?

Etymology was introduced by Rasmus Christian Rask in the early 19th century who was a linguist and traveled widely to study and understand different languages. 

Why is etymology useful?

Language is the basis to understand a region or country. Etymology is important because it gives you a deeper insight into the understanding topics like history, geography, sociology, politics because it helps you know how words entered speech and when did people begin to use them.

What is the synonym of etymology?

Word source, Word History, Derivation, Word Lore.

If you can’t separate yourself from the world of words and how they came into being, a career in Etymology may just be perfect for you. Further, as the career opportunities in this sector are steadily increasing, selection of the right course and university combination is also simultaneously important. Take the assistance of the experts at Leverage Edu by signing up for a free 30-minute career counselling session and make an informed decision towards a vibrant career.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *



10,000+ students realised their study abroad dream with us. Take the first step today.
Talk to an expert