Lexicographers compile, write and edit dictionaries. They study languages and the uses of languages, the differences and similarities between certain languages and the sounds used in speech.

Lexicographers need to be familiar with history, in order to gain information about the etymological origins and development of words in describing the grammatical structure of the language concerned. The study of History and Anthropology also helps to differentiate between the languages of various regions and social settings.

Because they study unknown and ancient languages, lexicographers tend not to travel to gather their data, but perform research by making use of books in and on the ancient language in question.

Some lexicographers teach at universities, others study small children and exactly how they acquire language. Etymology, Philology, Social Science and Discourse Analysis are some of the subjects a lexicographer might study.

Personal Requirements

  • enjoy learning languages
  • very good vocabulary
  • enjoy working with books and teaching
  • able to communicate well, particularly in writing
  • self-motivated, determined and self-disciplined
  • patient and naturally inquisitive


Lexicographers are usually self-employed or may find employment at universities

Getting Started

  • read widely about the history and use of a language
  • arrange to speak to a lexicographer about this type of career


Boston City Campus and Business College does not offer a programme that leads directly to this occupation. Please take a look at the related occupations below to see whether any of these appeal to you. Alternately, please send an email to taryn@boston.co.za and a Student Advisor will call you back.

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