Careers Service Occupations

Language Careers

Language Careers

About

Opportunities for language graduates exist in a wide variety of career areas. These range from public sector or voluntary organisations to the business and commercial sector.

People with language skills can bring real benefit and added value to their employers. You will also need other skills relevant to a role, such as team-working, organisation or commercial awareness.

Careers advice

Sign up to Careers Translated, produced by the Careers Service with help from the School of Modern Languages. 

It provides careers-related news, information, vacancies and events which are especially relevant for Newcastle University Modern Languages students. 

For careers in Europe:

Signature features career paths for sign language roles.

Thoughts on translation is a blog about the translation industry and becoming a translator. It is US-focused, but has useful articles.

What Newcastle University language graduates do with their degree

Examples of what some of our recent language graduates have been doing six months after finishing their course*:

  • translator
  • export sales
  • editorial assistant
  • accountant
  • English language teacher/assistant
  • PR consultant

*Taken from our Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey.

You can also find out what other language graduates have done through Graduate Connections. Read profiles to find out what it's like in a particular job or organisation and what skills and experience you need.

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates. 

They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them and sector skills bodies on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

Professional societies/institutes 

Industry groups/networks 

Making contacts

Talking to people working in careers using languages can give you an insight into their role. It can be useful for networking and making speculative applications. 

You could start with:

Social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, can also be useful for making contacts, finding employers and opportunities. Find out more about how to use social media for your career and subscribe to our Language Careers Twitter list.

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and events give valuable insight and opportunities to make contacts. 

Regular events include Employer PresentationsRecruitment Fairs and Language Show Live, which takes place in London in October each year.

For more events for this sector, see External Events.

Reference materials available in the Careers Service 

  • Your Gap Year: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Year Out the Adventure of a Lifetime (Vacation Work) by Susan Griffith
  • Summer Jobs Worldwide, 2010: Make the Most of the Summer Break by Susan Griffiths
  • Teaching English Abroad 2013 by Susan Griffith

Roles & Skills

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties and entry requirements.

Translator

Interpreter

Conference interpreter

Teaching

Skills employers look for

Employers look for skills including:

  • excellent language skills – both written and spoken
  • attention to detail, a good memory and the ability to learn quickly
  • the ability to interact well with people and work as part of a team
  • the ability to use discretion and maintain confidentiality
  • flexibility to deal calmly with unexpected situations
  • cultural awareness and knowledge of current affairs and politics

See our other occupational pages for roles in other sectors.

Gaining Experience

There are many sources for gaining experience in language careers.

Finding work experience

Follow Careers Translated - our language careers blog. It includes internships and work experience opportunities for students and graduates with language skills.

Some degree programmes at Newcastle give students chance to undertake work placement in Europe. See Newcastle University: Erasmus for more details.

Advertised opportunities

Careers Service

The Careers Service lists work experience and placement opportunities through Vacancies Online. See also Internships, placements & shadowing for additional sources of opportunities in the UK and overseas. Our occupations pages include sources of work experience in specific sectors.

Europe and UK

Global

Volunteering

There are voluntary opportunities for students, including working with children and young people. Projects include Success 4 All, a social enterprise in Newcastle providing after-school language clubs. See Volunteering for more information.

Do-it also lists language-related volunteering opportunities in the North East and across the UK.

Teaching

See Teaching in schools for advice on finding classroom work experience, in particular the Career Development module.

Finding companies

Find agencies that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. 

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

 

Finding Jobs

A vast array of websites offer ways to find language career jobs.

You can find graduate recruiters who value language skills and offer opportunities overseas on Careers Translated.

Vacancy sites (general)

Careers Service

Vacancies Online displays graduate vacancies. Register to receive e-mail alerts about jobs relevant to you.

Our Graduate jobs and International Jobs pages are also helpful.

Others

Vacancy sites (translation and interpreting)

Vacancy sites (teaching)

Specialist recruitment agencies

Finding companies

Self-employment

The majority of translators and interpreters are self-employed. Most find freelance work through networking and registration with professional directories or language agencies.

Freelance translators generally work from home and enjoy flexible hours. Their work flow may be unpredictable.

It can be helpful to build up experience and client contacts by working as an in-house translator before going freelance. It can take time to become established and build a regular client base.

For more information and advice on self-employment, visit our Work for Yourself pages.