Table of Contents
- #1. Who is a Lexicographer?
- #2. How to become a lexicographer?
- #3. Things you didn’t know about Lexicographers
- #4. Key takeaways
- #5. FAQs
The second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains a whopping 171,476 entries of words that are currently in use. This is in addition to 47,156 obsolete words. On the other hand, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary has 470,000 entries. However, the Oxford and Webster dictionary combined does not cover the total number of words in the English language!
But, why are we telling you this? Well, that’s because we are going to learn about people who compile these dictionaries. So, let’s move ahead and read who is a lexicographer and how you can become one!
#1. Who is a Lexicographer?
A lexicographer is tasked with the primary responsibility of compiling and editing dictionaries in the language. Lexicographers collect the facts required in dictionary entries, create the entries themselves and work with other professionals.
There is a wide range of dictionaries that lexicographers can write, such as regular dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, and technical dictionaries. The roles and responsibilities for this position are variable and depend on the extent and level of expertise of the professional.
If you seek to pursue a career in the dynamic field of lexicography, then here are some steps to help you make your dreams a reality!
#2. How to become a lexicographer?
Earn an Undergraduate qualification
More often than not, a lexicographer will have a foundation in the stream of Humanities in addition to experience in writing and editing content. If you want to become a lexicographer, you can consider pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and English. Taking the right language courses can help you develop comprehension skills necessary for the field.
Several dictionary editors have linguistic backgrounds. However, given that the job entails defining the vocabulary of the language, an educational qualification in any field is applicable.
Also, there are specialized lexicography courses available for you to become a lexicographer. However, such a program can provide a firm foundation but will not equip you with the instincts and skills required to find and define new terms in the dictionary.
Add work experience to your CV
The field of lexicography requires you to have hands-on experience that reflects in your CV. You can do this by taking up student work programs, internships, and opportunities that provide you with relevant editing experience.
For instance, you can consider pursuing an internship with a recognized magazine, newspaper, or publishing house. This will help you improve your copywriting skills too.
The right exposure to the field at an early stage can equip you with the skills required to edit, proofread and research. Therefore, exposure to the field can train you to develop the skills you require to sustain careers as professionals.
Develop a specialized skillset
Lexicographers require a specialized set of skills that allow them to perform the responsibilities well, such as communication, writing, reading, and advanced comprehension skills.
There are several specialized courses available online that you can pursue in addition to the undergraduate program to hone these skills. Besides, you can develop comprehension skills by reading about various industries and niche areas. A related undergraduate program will also provide opportunities for you to attend workshops. As an aspiring lexicographer, you can develop critical thinking, comprehension, and grammar skills with the program.
Create a compelling resume
To secure a position in a reputed publishing house, it is necessary for you to have the right application materials. These include a cover letter and a compelling resume highlighting your knowledge and experience.
For lexicographers, it is necessary to create and submit an application with no errors, as this demonstrates the attention to detail that an applicant has. There are several websites and certified professionals online that share tips and tricks required to create an intricate and well-structured resume. You can also refer to some sample resumes if needed. All in all, highlighting your professional responsibilities can be a good step towards asserting your dedication and skills.
Apply for employment opportunities
Before you begin your application process, look at the opportunities available for a lexicographer. So, conduct a thorough review of company websites and job boards. We recommend you create a network of professionals on platforms like LinkedIn. This will allow you to learn about any new opportunities aligning your skills and needs.
While lexicography is a highly specialized field, there are other careers that you can enjoy. These include opportunities as:
- Editors for publication houses
- Technical writers
- Freelance writers for clients from different niches
#3. Things you didn’t know about Lexicographers
Now that you know the steps to become a lexicographer, here are 3 things that will give you additional insight on how the field works!
Decision on words to be used
If you believe lexicographers decide which words need to be added to the dictionary, think again!
The responsibility of a professional lexicographer includes finding words that are currently in use in the language and representing them as honestly as possible. Dictionaries do not dictate which words are “correct” or “incorrect”. Rather, dictionaries define words as used in the language in current times.
Lexicographers need to be selective
Language undergoes constant growth and evolution, with a number of words being added to a language every year. Estimations by the Merriam-Webster website say that close to 1000 words are added to the English language every year.
Lexicographers, therefore, need to be selective about the words they include in the dictionary. Most publishing houses will have some criteria that each word needs to meet before adding it to the dictionary. For example, a word that is used for an extended period makes the cut.
Several Lexicographers for a single entry
Putting a dictionary together is no easy task! This book requires the collaborative efforts of several editors before publishing it. Once a single entry is made by a lexicographer into the dictionary, it is reviewed many times by professionals with varying levels of expertise.
The professionals involved in creating an excellent dictionary entry include etymologists, copy editors, pronunciation editors, and proofreaders.
#4. Key takeaways
- Lexicographers are professionals who have the required knowledge and skills to structure, compile, and edit a dictionary.
- There is a wide range of dictionaries that lexicographers can opt to write, depending on their interests and professional goals.
- The road to becoming a professional in this field requires you to complete your qualifications. Besides, you also need to gain the necessary experience.
- This is a dynamic and engaging field that accepts individuals with a penchant for language and an eye for detail.
We hope you have got an idea about how to become a lexicographer. Have any more questions? Drop a comment or reach out to us!
Q1. How much does a lexicographer earn?
Answer – As a lexicographer, you can expect to earn around USD 24,000 to USD 26,000 per annum.
Q2. What are the levels within a lexicographer’s career?
Answer – Aspirants begin at the level of Assistant Editor and move on to the position of Editor and finally Lexicographer.
Q3. What subjects does a lexicography course have?
Answer – The subjects covered in a professional lexicography course include narrative analysis, early American literature, and creative writing.