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 the European Parliament (for EU citizens):

Signature features career paths for sign language roles.

What Newcastle University language graduates do with their degree

Examples of what some of the roles our language graduates undertook, six months after finishing their course*:

  • international marketing executive
  • translator
  • business analyst
  • export sales
  • hotel management trainee
  • editorial assistant
  • accountant
  • English language teacher/assistant

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

You can also find out what other language graduates have done through NCL Spark and LinkedIn. Read their profiles to find out how they got into their role - where else have they worked and what skills and experience do they have.

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 

Find professional bodies outside of the UK on GoinGlobal by selecting ‘Professional and Personal Networking’ on each of the individual country guides.

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:

  • NCL Spark – our online mentoring platform, with graduates happy to give you advice about the kind of work they do
  • Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn – find out what they did after graduation and contact them for advice

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 & Sector Insights and Language Show Live, which takes place in London in October/November each year.

Roles & Skills

In this section, we've picked out key roles which are directly related to a languages degree, but there are lots of careers where language skills would be useful.

You can find opportunities in a wide range of sectors, including sales, finance, teaching, government, charities, development and media.

Have a look at Prospects: What can I do with my Modern Languages degree and the other career areas under Explore Occupations for inspiration.

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

Translator

Interpreter

Conference interpreter

Secondary school teacher

  • Prospects
  • Teaching in schools - includes information on the different routes into teaching, essential work experience, funding and how to apply for courses

English as a foreign language teacher

  • Prospects
  • TEFL - includes information on courses and how to find opportunities

Private tutor 

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

Gaining Experience

There are many opportunities for gaining experience in language careers.

Finding work experience

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

Global Opportunities has information on work experience abroad for Newcastle students.

The Translation Networks Booklet (PDF: 959KB), produced by the School of Modern Languages, includes profiles of UK-based interpreting and translating companies, some of which offer work experience opportunities to students.

Advertised opportunities

Search for advertised internships and placements on MyCareer. You can filter by occupational area (eg 'using languages'), vacancy type and location.

See also Internships, placements & shadowing for additional sources of opportunities, both in the UK and overseas. Our Explore Occuptions pages include sources of work experience in a range of careers.

UK and overseas

Volunteering

Volunteering can be a useful way to gain experience. Go Volunteer, part of Newcastle University Students' Union (NUSU), helps Newcastle University students find volunteering opportunities in the North East.

Go Volunteer currently have language projects available, with opportunities including teaching English to refugees, and a conversation group to help international students improve and practise their English. 

See Volunteering for more sources of opportunities, including Do-it, where you can search for language-related volunteering in the North East and across the UK.

Teaching and tutoring

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

As well as the projects above, Go Volunteer have links to voluntary tutoring providers, such as Action Tutoring, under Community Projects: Providers.

You can get experience as a private tutor through tutoring agencies. You can search for these online - see the QCA article: The Top 10 Online Tutoring Platforms in the UK to help you get started. Make sure that you research agencies carefully before registering and check that they're members of The Tutors' Association.

Most private tutors work on a freelance (self-employed) basis. If you are an international student on a Tier 4/Student Route visa, you can’t undertake any work that is freelance. You would only be able to work as a tutor if it was a voluntary opportunity or you are employed by an agency, ie you are on the employer’s payroll. If you’re not sure, ask the employer if the work is classed as employed or self-employed before applying/accepting an offer.

Finding companies

If you're struggling to find relevant experience, you could try contacting companies directly, to ask if they could offer you an internship. Find organisations that interest you and get in touch with a speculative application, ideally to a named person. 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

Use the websites below to help you find language career jobs.

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

As well as looking for advertised jobs requiring language skills, you can also find opportunities by contacting employers speculatively. Always research the company you're approaching first and show clearly why you are applying to them and what you know about them. 

Freelance and agency work is common, particularly in translation and interpreting.

Networking is crucial to make contacts and find out about opportunities. See Making Contacts in the About tab above.

General vacancy sites

See also our International Jobs and Graduate jobs pages for vacancy sources in the UK and overseas.

Translation and interpreting 

Education and teaching 

See our Teaching in Schools and TEFL pages for more links.

Government and armed forces

See our Government, politics and social research and Armed Forces and law enforcement pages for more sources of opportunities.

For some of these positions, you must be a British citizen to apply.

Specialist recruitment sites

Finding companies

The Translation Networks Booklet (PDF: 959KB), produced by the School of Modern Languages, includes profiles of UK-based interpreting and translating companies.

Work for yourself

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.

See the About section for a list of professional bodies and industry groups, useful for advice and networking.

The Translation Networks Booklet (PDF: 959KB), produced by the School of Modern Languages, includes interviews with graduates who are now working as freelance translators. They talk about the pros and cons of running their own translation businesses and offer advice to students interested in working freelance.

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