By Phoebe Harrison

Though everyone has a different reason for learning another language, many people choose to do so for job purposes. This is not unsensible, as it is a universally acknowledged truth that having more than one language under the belt makes any CV ten times more attractive to potential employers, giving multilingual people that much-needed edge in a crowded job-hunting market. If you fall into the category of ‘bilingual people considering their job options’, then this list will hopefully enlighten you as to what choices you have, career-wise.



Perhaps the most obvious job on the list, working as a translator involves translating one written language into the other while retaining the meaning and tone of the original text. A diverse career, translation work can be found in across many sectors, such as marketing, science, and entertainment. Though a great deal of translation work is freelance, there are many positions that require more long-term contract-based roles, especially if working in localisation or legal circles.



Though officially a degree or equivalent certificate is not always required to be a translator (fluency and the ability to write in the target language is enough), having certain qualifications will increase your chances of finding work. Some common qualifications/degrees include:

  • Modern Languages Degree
  • Translation Studies or a Postgraduate Degree in Translation
  • Business, Law, or Science Degrees alongside Languages
  • CIOL Level 7 Diploma of Translation

If you have none of the above, it is still possible to gain relevant experience through volunteering translation services with organisations like Translators Without Borders, or simply providing a portfolio of any relevant past translation work.


Salary and Working Hours

If working as a freelance translator, your hours will be flexible and will largely suit you and your schedule, but it is necessary to be able to keep up with deadlines. Working as an in-house translator will normally entail a standard 9-5 workday.

Because of the nature of the job, translator salaries vary massively. Freelance rates are usually determined based on the word count of the translations provided as well as document type – more experienced freelancers will be able to set higher rates. Depending on your experience and what material you are translating as an ‘in house’ translator, you could be paid very well or a very basic fee – dealing with important documents (such as medical and legal items) or translating from ‘rarer’ languages will usually warrant higher rates of pay.



The ‘spoken’ side of translation, interpretation is the process of listening to, understanding, and memorising content in one language and then reproducing it in another. There are different types of interpreting jobs: conference, business, and public service. Though more consistent than written translation, the majority of interpreting roles are usually also freelance in nature.



Though having any proven experience of interpreting work is a bonus, most employers will prefer candidates with formal qualifications, as interpretation jobs often require industry specific knowledge – instruction in interpreting will often cover different areas, such as medical and legal translation. Some of the main interpreting degrees and diplomas include:

  • Modern Languages Degree
  • Postgraduate Interpreting/Translation Studies
  • Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI)


Salary and Working Hours

As with translation, interpretation salaries and working hours vary depending on the content you are interpreting, the company you are working for, and your level of experience. Freelance hours are flexible and most ‘in house’ jobs will usually adhere to standard business hours, However, interpreting positions related to medical care or police procedures will often require the translator to be available on demand regardless of the hour.

Salary also changes depending on your status and experience – experienced freelancers can set higher rates that correspond with minutes spent interpreting. Working environments like large-scale conferences will often pay better, and the higher paying interpreting jobs are more readily available in the private sector and abroad.


Teacher (MFL or EFL)

A popular (and very stable) job choice amongst language graduates, teaching a foreign language from a secondary level onwards is a very rewarding job that pays comparatively well. Alternatively, you may also choose to teach English as a foreign language (EFL) while abroad in a country where your other language is spoken – there are many schemes that allow this, such as British Council and TEFL.




To work as a secondary school teacher in England and Wales, it is necessary to acquire Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) by completing Teacher Training – it is uncommon that a school will accept anyone without QTS. It is also obligatory to have a degree in Modern Languages or at least fluency, in some cases. The two main ways of acquiring teacher status are:

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
  • Salaried Teacher Training (Teach First, School Direct etc.)

Qualifications for working as a teacher abroad will vary depending on country but working via a British-led scheme will require either a degree in your chosen language or a certificate of different levels of fluency.


Salary and Working Hours

Newly qualified teachers will earn around £25, 714, which will rise in increments. Experienced teachers can move up in the role and increase their pay, with principal teacher and head teacher roles paying up to £100,000 per year.

Most teachers work 39 weeks a year with paid holidays. The average workday may vary slightly depending on the school, but general teaching hours range from 8:30am to 3:30/4:00 pm. It is worth noting that most teachers stay behind after teaching is finished to complete other duties such as marking work or syllabus preparation.



A role taking many different forms, consultants are required to offer advice and expertise to organisations to help them improve their overall performance in terms of management, profitability, strategy, and operations. As most large businesses operate with the international market in mind, potential employees with a knowledge of foreign languages and cultures are seen as an important asset to have.



Most consultancy careers are only open to graduates (of any subject), but school leavers with proven prior experience in business may also often be eligible. Though many types of work experience are attractive, having prior involvement in internships or business courses is a bonus for anyone considering a career in consultancy – for linguists, any occasion of having worked abroad in any company will look particularly promising.


Salary and Working Hours

Depending on your position of seniority, consultants can end up earning more than £120,000 annually with high-end roles, but an average junior salary is between £25-30,000.

Consultant working hours can often be long and demanding, regularly moving outside of the standard 9-5 rota – these hours will often change depending on which project you are working on.

Humanitarian/Aid Worker

A challenging but rewarding endeavour, having knowledge of a foreign language may make you an ideal candidate for humanitarian work. Because many humanitarian organisations work on an international scale, recruiters actively seek out those with the ability to speak the languages of countries that are in need.



Degrees are not obligatory, but are preferred, particularly in anything relating to international development. Employers in international aid and development also value prior relevant work experience which can include volunteering with charities, fundraising, and marketing. From a language viewpoint, there are many organisations, such as Translators Without Borders, who are ideal for language-related volunteer work in this sector.


Salary and Working Hours

Typical starter salaries with UK-based NGOs start around £18-25,000 per year depending on location and experience. Overseas positions will pay slightly higher, ranging from £21-37,000 a year, with salary dependent on specific responsibilities and base country.

Working hours for overseas positions are impossible to predict, especially when working in response to emergencies. More business-related roles based in the UK will most likely adhere to general 9-5 working hours.



A hugely diverse industry, working in marketing or public relations means co-ordinating promotional campaigns and strategies to help sell company products and services, as well as engaging with the public to improve the company’s image and reputation. Because multilingual people and language graduates in general are likely to have an interest or at least, an awareness, of foreign markets and cultures, many organisations actively seek these groups out in order to help orchestrate business on an international scale in helping to organise foreign business campaigns.



As with most large corporations, employment opportunities are open to anyone with a degree or prior relevant experience, in some cases. However, it is useful to have some knowledge or involvement in advertising, communications, or design.


Salary and Working Hours

The starting salary for most marketing related jobs is around £18-25,000 per year depending on experience. After gaining more experience it is possible to move to a more senior role, with pay ranging from anywhere between £40 – 100,000 per year, the latter figure being common amongst those in director roles.

Typical working hours are 9-5 from Monday to Friday, though it is highly likely that employees will be required to work some evenings or weekends when organising events or high-scale marketing campaigns.



Concluding Thoughts

This list provides a general glimpse at the opportunities available to anyone with knowledge of a foreign language, but there is a plethora of other roles out there that will benefit from the skills gained by learning another language, such as cultural sensitivity, communication skills, and an eye for accuracy and detail.

If you or anyone you know requires translation or interpretation services in any language, visit us here at Crystal Clear Translation for a quote.