Basically, I have a BA in Linguistics, and after discovering that most of the jobs out there in linguistics are in computational linguistics, I've decided to pursue an MA in Computational Linguistics. Well, okay, technically the school I'm applying to has an MA in Linguistics with a certificate in Computational Linguistics (I'm planning on San Diego State University) but that's still ultimately my goal. I'm considering a possible PhD in Computational Linguistics too, but right now I'm going to focus on getting a Master's first.
Since I wasn't allowed to take programming classes in undergrad (they were for Comp Sci majors only) I've gone back to community college to take programming classes. I found that I really enjoy computer science. So much so that I almost regret not doing Computer Science when I went to college. XD But, I do really enjoy linguistics and I'm glad in the end that I did study it. There are times where it feels really weird going back to CC after I graduated and I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. But, after reading some posts here, I feel like I am doing the right thing because programming is so important to Computational Linguistics and it's good that I'm finally learning how to do it.
So, now I have a few questions.
1.) Currently I'm a research assistant for a PhD candidate, and my work consists of analyzing words in a dialect of Japanese spoken in Okinawa, and segmenting sounds in Praat. I really love this work and I'm getting into it. Is there a "real world" job that would be somewhat similar? It may not be Comp Ling exactly, it's more phonology type work, but I really enjoy it and I would really be interested in it.
2.) How exactly do you get experience in Computational Linguistics? I know here I am asking this question and I'm a research assistant who's also going to be helping with a corpus and a dictionary in the future, but I notice that a large amount of the Comp Ling jobs require 3-5 years in some programming language (usually C++ and Java, both of which I'm learning now thankfully, as well as PHP and SQL, which I'm hoping to learn next). Do my classes count as part of the experience? How could I get this experience if I don't have a Computer Science degree?
So, I guess this boils down to how do I best prepare for a job in Computational Linguistics?