I want to work in Language Careers

Find out how you can start a career in Languages. Here we list potential job roles and some of the leading companies in that sector.

Language careers are open to students who have studied languages single honours or combined and to fluent speakers of other languages from any discipline.

Job roles

What skills have I gained on my course?

The primary skill you have gained on your course is your ability to communicate at a high level in another language, together with a knowledge of another country  and its life and culture. However, employers will be at least as interested in the more general skills you have developed.

These are likely to include written and verbal communication (in English as well as in your other language[s]); analytical skills; initiative and self-reliance (developed through your year abroad); time management and personal organisational skills.

Occupations associated with languages

Although there are many occupations where languages are useful, there are only a few where languages are always essential including teaching, translating and interpreting.

Teaching may involve teaching the language you have studied to speakers of English, in schools or in further/higher education, or teaching English to speakers of other languages. The second option does not normally require any knowledge of your students’ language, as teaching is carried out entirely through English, but this would often be helpful, especially for working abroad. 

Translating is often of technical or specialist material and is likely to require further study. Many translators work on a freelance basis. Organisations employing staff translators include the European institutions (a knowledge of three EU languages is required here), GCHQ, the Security Service and translation agencies such as RWS. Lingo24 have created this career guide to translation.

Translator job profile: Prospects.ac.uk 

Interpreting is a tiny and stressful career area, which can be difficult to break into on a full-time basis. Employers include international organisations.

Interpreter job profile: Prospects.ac.uk


To become a subtitler you require an interest in language and excellent articulation. You need to be able to work well under pressure and have experience of working to tight deadlines. Degrees in languages or literature tend to be preferred.

Of course, a knowledge of the relevant language is also essential when working in another country, or working in a situation which requires regular contact with speakers of that language

Other occupations where a languages degree would be useful

Most of these job roles will value language skills and possessing them will potentially open up more opportunities in your career. You may not always have the opportunity to use them on a day-to-day basis as a new graduate, but be patient!

  • Finance – banks, insurance companies and accountancy firms operate on an international basis and offer opportunities both to work with foreign clients from the UK and to be seconded to overseas offices. See Accountancy, banking and finance on prospects.ac.uk
  • Food and Drink – sourcing products from around the world and negotiating with suppliers demands good language skills. Many Kent companies (such as MW Mack and Gomez) are involved in importing fruit and veg from mainland Europe – and don’t forget the wine trade! 
  • Law – many of the large commercial firms in London also have offices in other European capitals and commercial centres (particularly in Brussels) 
  • Sales and Marketing - with British companies needing to export their products or with multinational companies and Marketing, Advertising and PR on prospects.ac.uk
  • Transport, Tourism and Leisure – freight distribution, air and sea transport, hotel management, travel agency work, courier/tour guide Transport
  • Public Sector – the Civil Service; local authorities, international organisations 
  • International Organisations, including the UN and the EU institutions 
  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) You do not usually need a degree in a relevant language to teach English abroad – it is normally sufficient to be a native or fluent speaker of English. Obviously a knowledge of the language where you are working is useful for day-to-day living, but the biggest demand for EFL teachers comes from countries such as China and Russia where few graduates will have studied their language at university. See out TEFL pages for more information.

For more information on ways in which language skills can be used in a variety of different careers see What can I do with a modern languages degree on TargetJobs.co.uk

Careers open to all graduates

About 40% of all vacancies advertised for graduates do not ask for a specific degree subject. However, you may sometimes need postgraduate training or work experience.

Major areas of graduate recruitment include Business and Finance, Computing and IT, Education, Marketing, Public Sector Management but there are many more opportunities.

For more information on career choice and graduate opportunities generally, see What can I do with my degree on prospects.ac.uk.


Modern language employers


  • VSI Dubbing and Subtitling
  • Glocal Media specialises in subtitling, translation, transcription and voice-over.
  • Iyuno-SDI translation and website localisation.
  • Deluxe Media subtitling, digital asset management and audio description. Content management service company.
  • Ai Media captioning company in London. Recruit subtitlers to provide real-time captions via Ai-Live platform.
  • The Knowledge
  • KFTV (formerly Kemps Directory) International media production opportunities including translation and subtitling.

Graduate Recruitment Programmes

Below is a list of some graduate recruitment programmes that either require language skills or which offer the chance to work in other European countries. However, as noted above, many other employers will be able to make use of your languages, or post you abroad, at some point during your career.

Information on European employers in the UK

The following sites should provide lists of members of these associations:

Translation services

Recruitment agencies for linguists

Find out more

Freelance language teacher

Working abroad

Approximately 10% of language graduates obtain their first job after graduation outside the UK. This compares with less than 2% of graduates overall. Few of these jobs, though, are "career posts" - more often, they are seen as a way to live abroad for a little longer without necessarily offering any long-term prospects. Most recent graduates working abroad are, in fact, teaching English as a foreign language (although this can be a long-term career if the graduate wants).

Postgraduate study

Useful links and information sources

Other pages on this site

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