Languages sector

Want to find out more about a career in languages?

This page has information and support about pursuing languages.

A Modern Languages degree or expertise in a specific language can open up a wide range of career options. You may choose to use your language skills in a direct capacity e.g. teaching, interpreting or translation.

You could also pursue opportunities with international companies, or those who deal with non-English speaking clients and partners.

Languages graduates demonstrate a range of excellent transferable skills, global experience and cultural awareness. This can lead to careers in diverse sectors e.g. charities & non-profits, finance & consultancy, heritage & culture, marketing & sales, publishing & media, and sport, tourism and leisure.

Almost 2500 of our students said they are interested in Languages careers

Explore your options

If you want to explore the languages sector, learn more with the below resources

Explore options with a Modern Languages degree

We recommend exploring these resources from Prospects: 

Translation and Interpretation

Typical employers include translation and interpretation agencies, multi-national businesses, news services, The European Commission, The Civil Service, international bodies such as the UN.

Interpreters convert speech in one language to another. Interpretation may be consecutive (after the speaker has finished) or simultaneous (while they are still talking).

Translators convert written material from one or more 'source languages' into the 'target language' (normally the translator’s mother tongue). Most work freelance for translation agencies or directly for clients, although some organisations employ in-house translators.

Entry routes into Interpreting and translation

A postgraduate diploma or Masters is usually expected and can increase your chances of employment, especially with international organisations. For details of universities offering postgraduate or equivalent qualifications in translation and/or interpreting, visit the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) courses page.

You can also take an MA in English-Chinese Interpreting and Translation or an MA in Translation Studies at the University of Birmingham. The latter is available as a campus programme, either full- or part-time, and a distance-learning programme, with a standard 30-month route and an accelerated 18-month route. 

If you don’t have professional qualifications, you may still find informal work. Rates of pay will be lower than those who are professionally qualified.

Useful websites about Interpreting and translation

Hear from our graduates 

Many of our Modern Languages graduates from University of Birmingham have gone on to pursue a variety of careers.  

Read, watch and listen to stories from Modern Langauges graduates.

Attend an Employer Insights event 

Book an appointment with a Careers Adviser

If you have questions and want to find out more about pursuing a career in languages, have a chat with one of our Careers Advisers. 

Book an appointment through your Careers Connect account. 

Plan your career

If you are ready to start planning a career in languages, have a look below.

LinkedIn Learning 

LinkedIn Learning has over 13,000 courses to enhance your CV and stand out from the crowd when thinking about a career in legal services. 

University of Birmingham students get free access to LinkedIn Learning.

Work experience 

Getting experience in Interpreting and translation

Think about which sectors/employers would value languages. Finance, food and drink, sales and marketing, transport and logistics are a few. Find out where internships are advertised in those sectors or approach organisations working in those areas for work experience (see list below for some useful links). 

Research local charities and other third sector organisations that work with non-English speakers and see if there is a way they can use your language skills. Visit the Do-it website and social media to find these.

Translators without Borders is a non-profit organisation offering language and translation support for humanitarian and development agencies; they promote a range of volunteering and other opportunities. 

Join Birmingham student groups which focus on nationals from a particular country or language. You can see if you can use your skills to support events or projects.

If you’re interested in testing your interpreting skills, listen to a short piece of source language from TV or radio delivered at a reasonable pace and then try to give the gist of it in your target language. Record your attempt and listen back – were you clear? Did you give the main points?

Look out for opportunities to gain work experience here at the University both during and after your degree. You can also find work experience opportunities on Careers Connect.

Organisations such as the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) offers networking opportunities to students through their regional, subject and language networks. You can contact the ITI West Midlands Group for further details.

Bursaries and funding 

You may be eligible to apply for work experience bursaries through The University of Birmingham. For more details visit the internship funding pages

Apply for jobs

If you are ready to apply for languages jobs, have a look below. 

Finding jobs 

Finding a job or internship in Interpreting and translation

Search and apply for jobs in the languages sector

Application support

When you have a clear sense of where you want to apply, the final step is making the most out of your application. Our Employability Advisers are here to help review your application documents. 


Professional Services