Languages Graduate Jobs - Careers Guide

Contents :

If you have a flair for languages then the world is your oyster - knowledge of languages can be useful in virtually every industry and will doubtlessly open up work opportunities abroad. Expert language skills are required for careers in translating, interpreting or teaching languages, and are also necessary if you intend to work in some areas of the travel industry, as a tour guide or travel rep for example. Other areas where language skills could be useful include the diplomatic service, politics and journalism.

Though at first sight the careers based on languages may seem very similar, there are key differences between working as a translator, interpreter, linguist or teacher. Translators change written material from one language to another and, though verbal fluency is not always necessary, a strong understanding of the written version of the source language and its culture and history are important for accurate translation.

Translators often have very versatile and varied careers and can work on everything from academic texts, literature and legal documents to brochures, product manuals and subtitles. Whereas translators work with the written word, interpreters work with the spoken word. They are often employed at international conferences or to facilitate meetings between small groups of people. In some settings, interpreters may need to work interpreting simultaneously, which is a high stress though very well paid job, but more often they work consecutively, interpreting the language after the person has finished speaking.

To work as a linguist, it is more important to have a sound understanding of the mechanics of language than to have expert foreign language skills as linguists focus on the nature, context and characteristics of language. There are a variety of specialisations within linguistics including semantics, sociolinguistics, and phonetics, but linguists tend to work in organisations such as educational and research institutions and global high tech companies.

Translators and interpreters are often self-employed or work for agencies, though some large organisations, such as the United Nations, employ in-house and staff translators and interpreters. Working hours tend to depend on the needs of clients or employers and, though some translators may be able to work flexible hours from home, simultaneous interpreters may have intensive and high-stress periods of work.

What degree do I need?TOP ^

As may be obvious, to work with languages you will need to have an extremely clear knowledge of the particular language or languages that you work with. For this reason, a degree in a particular language is usually essential and often a 2.1 will be required by employers.

It is also likely that you will need extra qualifications to go into a language related job. Careers in translation and interpretation may require a masters degree, while working as a language teacher will mean postgraduate teacher training.

What skills do I need?TOP ^

There are various skills needed to work in the languages sector, whether you are a translator, interpreter or language teacher. They include:

Aside from this, as either a translator or interpreter you will need to be able to accurately relay the message and its intentions - this aspect of the job is in part performance. Often you will be required to translate or interpret pop culture references or slang, so a wider knowledge of the culture in question is needed - being fluent in the language is not enough.

What graduate languages job can I do? TOP ^

Translating, interpreting and teaching are the most obvious jobs for languages graduates. These jobs may see you work areas including:

  • Schools
  • Colleges
  • Charities
  • Government organisations
  • Businesses

As a translator or interpreter you can also work in a freelance capacity, where businesses or organisations will be able to hire out your services.

Average languages salariesTOP ^

Because translating and interpreting are both highly skilled jobs, the salaries those working in this sector can receive reflect this. Although a translator or interpreter may begin their career on as little as £12,700, average earnings reach as high as £52,000.

Working for the United Nations or European Union could see you earn far more than this, however - because of the diplomacy required and the high level of responsibility they are the best paying employers in the sector.

The average salary for teachers in the UK, including language teachers, is £31,000. Very experienced teachers in London may earn up to £64,000.

Typically, salaries will rise the more progress you make within the sector. Salaries also vary greatly depending on your location, level of responsibility and the size of your organisation.

Browse all Languages jobs for this guide