Job type


£18k - £40k

Typical salary

37 – 39

Hours per week

Translators convert the written word from the 'source language' into the 'target language', making sure that the meaning is the same.

More info

  • Use your language skills and cultural knowledge to translate written materials into other languages
  • You'll need excellent language, research, and writing skills
  • Work for a translation agency as an employee or freelancer, or set up your own business

As a translator you could choose to work on a number of subjects and projects, or specialise in a particular area, like scientific, technical or commercial material, legal documents, literary work, media work, educational resources, or online content.


  • Reproducing text clearly, accurately, and in the style intended by the author using specialist knowledge like technical terminology
  • Researching legal, technical or scientific terms
  • Consulting with experts to make sure the translation is accurate, and matching the culture of the target audience
  • In some large companies you may revise and edit a rough machine translation created using computer software
  • You may also use other software like a computer assisted translation tool


You'll usually be office-based and you may work alone for a lot of the time. You may need to visit clients, experts or specialist organisations, but most contact would be by email, phone, or post. You may also have the opportunity to work overseas for an international organisation. 

You could also work for an agency or as a freelance translator. You'll often be able to choose your own hours when working in this way. 

You'll need

The most important thing you'll need for this role is an excellent set of language skills, including the ability to write accurately and fluently in one or more languages. You'll also need to have the ability to adapt to different styles and cultures, a flair for research, discretion and respect for confidentiality, the ability to remain neutral and free of bias, and good IT skills, particularly word processing. You'll normally need to have a degree, and you'll usually need a postgraduate qualification in translation.

You must be fluent in one or more languages as well as English, and have knowledge of the culture in the relevant country, this is often gained by living and working there, so it will help if you've lived or worked overseas. Language translation skills in high demand include French, German, English, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish.

Relevant degree subjects include languages (courses which specialise in linguistics or translation may give you an advantage but are not essential) and combined degrees which include a subject like law or science with languages.

You could also do a Master's degree in translation or translation studies, or do a Diploma in Translation which is a postgraduate level qualification offered through the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL). These courses could increase your chances of employment, especially with international organisations. 

If you're already fluent in a second language, you may find it useful to have qualifications in a subject which would allow you to take on specialised translating work. If you have a degree, and can translate two EU official languages into English, you may be able to apply for a paid translation traineeship with the European Commission.

You may have to pass enhanced background checks if your work is related to national security.


With experience you could start your own translation agency, or move into teaching.