How Do You Become a Computational Linguist?

Computational LinguistIf you’re passionate about computers and wish to take your creative problem-solving skills into the unique artificial intelligence field, then you could be perfect fit to become a computational linguist. Computational linguistics is an emerging niche focused on programming computers with complex code to process and create language in the same way humans can. These linguists use natural language processing (NLP) as well as Java and C++ to develop software systems dealing with human speech. Their goal is to pioneer cutting-edge computer applications that facilitate optimal communication between man and machine. Computational linguists are responsible for making strides in speech recognition, grammar checking, text mining, machine translation, and more, according to the California State University Long Beach. The following is a step-by-step guide you can use to become a computational linguist.

Acquire a Bachelor’s Degree

Before you can jump into computational linguistics, you’ll first need to obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college. Most aspiring computational linguists choose to major in computer science or programming. Several universities across America offer bachelor’s programs in linguistics. If possible, fill up your electives with courses in language acquisitions, phonetics, syntax, semantics, mathematics, and software development. Taking a foreign language is also advised because computational linguists often must be fluent in at least one language other than English. Finish out your undergraduate career by taking and passing the GRE in preparation for further education, according to US News and World Report.

Gain Relevant Work Experience

While earning your degree, it’s best to get your feet wet in computational linguistics with an internship or co-operative. Take every opportunity to gain relevant hands-on experience working with and designing language processing software. Most employers will want computational linguists to have at least three years of work experience. You may need to start out your career in entry-level computer programmer, data analyst, software engineer, or web developer positions. Some computational linguists build their resume by enlisting in the Armed Forces and working in military intelligence. It’s advised that you become familiar with translation tools, GPS devices, search engines, voice-to-text technology, and other types of artificial intelligence.

Complete a Master’s Program

Once you have a thorough computer-related background, it’s time to attend an accredited graduate school. The majority of computational linguistics jobs will be reserved for graduates with a master’s degree. Master’s programs in computational linguistics are typically housed in a university’s computer science division to study the intersection of language and technology. Over the course of two to three years full-time, graduate students will become masters in coding to build, test, and enhance language processing applications. Going the extra step to earn a doctoral degree may also be wise for computational linguists wishing to teach or research in collegiate academia.

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Overall, computational linguists explore the powerful connections between text, human speech, and software to continue streamlining technology for the 21st century. They play a crucial role in implementing complex algorithms to improve natural language search technology. Computational linguists can use their high level of training to snag impressive artificial intelligence jobs with Google, Microsoft Research, Nuance, VoiceBox, Amazon, InQuira, and other global tech giants. When you follow the above steps to become a computational linguist, you’ll have the rewarding chance to enter this in-demand computer science branch and shape how we interact with technology through speech.