Lexicographers write and compile the content for dictionaries. They also determine which new words are common use and should be included in the glossary.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to lexicographer:

computational lexicographer
senior lexicographer
bilingual dictionaries lexicographer
bilingual dictionary editor
dictionary editor
linguistic lexicographer

Minimum qualifications

Bachelor’s degree is generally required to work as lexicographer. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Lexicographer is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Lexicographer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to lexicographer.

fact checker
copy editor
literary scholar

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of lexicographer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of lexicographer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of lexicographer.

Practical lexicography: The science of compiling and editing dictionaries.
Linguistics: The scientific study of language and its three aspects, language form, language meaning, and language in context.
Spelling: The rules concerning the way words are spelled.
Grammar: The set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language.
Copyright legislation: Legislation describing the protection of the rights of original authors over their work, and how others can use it.
Scientific research methodology: The theoretical methodology used in scientific research involving doing background research, constructing an hypothesis, testing it, analysing data and concluding the results.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of lexicographer.

Follow work schedule: Manage the sequence of activities in order to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule.
Consult information sources: Consult relevant information sources to find inspiration, to educate yourself on certain topics and to acquire background information.
Apply grammar and spelling rules: Apply the rules of spelling and grammar and ensure consistency throughout texts.
Search databases: Search for information or people using databases.
Create definitions: Create clear definitions for words and concepts. Make sure they convey the exact meaning of the words.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of lexicographer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Theoretical lexicography: The academic field dealing with the syntagmatic, paradigmatic, and semantic relationships within the vocabulary of a certain language.
Project management principles: Different elements and phases of project management.
Search engines: The methods and techniques to navigate search engines and find information quickly.
Typology: The subdiscipline of linguistics that structurally categorises languages by describing the common properties and structural diversity of languages.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of lexicographer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Manage budgets: Plan, monitor and report on the budget.
Translate foreign language: Translate words, sentences, and concepts from a foreign language into your mother tongue or another foreign language.
Do historical research: Use scientific methods to research history and culture.
Consult with editor: Consult with the editor of a book, magazine, journal or other publications about expectations, requirements, and progress.
Supervise staff: Oversee the selection, training, performance and motivation of staff.
Edit dictionary entries: Edit the work of fellow lexicographers to make sure information is correct and complete.
Supervise work: Direct and supervise the day-to-day activities of subordinate personnel.
Identify new words: Determine if there are new words being used by a significant number of people by doing research.
Translate language concepts: Translate one language into another language. Match words and expressions with their corresponding brothers in other languages, while making sure that the message and nuances of the original text are preserved.

ISCO group and title

2643 – Translators, interpreters and other linguists





  1. Lexicographer – ESCO
Last updated on August 8, 2022

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