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Job Photographs

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Translating a pamphlet.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, looking at a dictionary.

    Using a dictionary to check the meaning of a word.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a telephone.  She is looking at some paper documents.

    Checking the deadline for a piece of translation work with a client.

  • A woman is looking through a folder.  There are lots of other folders on the shelves in front of her.

    Referring to previous translation work.

  • Someone is removing a printout from a Braille machine.

    Taking finished translated sheets from a Braille machine.

  • A man and a woman are sitting, talking to each other.  They are both looking at some paper documents.

    Talking with a client about their requirements for a piece of translation.

  • Two women are sitting at a desk, in an office.  They are talking and looking at some paper documents.

    Discussing translation work with a colleague.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, in an office.  She is using a computer and looking at a website.

    Here, the translator is keeping up to date with the culture and news from a country whose language they work with.

  • Translator



As a Translator, you will change written text from one language to another. You'll need to have excellent knowledge of one or more foreign languages. You will translate materials such as textbooks, instruction manuals and research papers. This demands knowledge of a specialised subject, such as law, finance or technology.

Also known as

  • Linguist Translator
  • Language Translator

Video: - Jutta: Translator

Video: - Chloe: Spanish Speaking Admistrator

Work Activities

As a Translator, you will convert written text from one language to another. You'll make sure that you keep the correct meaning of the original text, while making the text appropriate to the target readership. This is a specialist task.

Most opportunities are in technical, scientific and commercial translation, working with materials such as textbooks, instruction manuals, business reports, research papers and advertising brochures. This work generally requires knowledge of a specialised field, such as law, finance, engineering or technology.

You might work on media translation, such as film scripts and subtitles. Or maybe working on travel guides or educational books might be your speciality.

An increasing amount of translation is of website content and software.

You'll need to know all about the technical and specialised terminology and jargon. Technical translation is not about creating literature, but about conveying a meaning in terms that the reader can understand.

In the translation of a foreign book, poem or play, you will need to convey the originally intended spirit of the work. You will need the ability to find the right turn of phrase. You'll also need an understanding of the author's style and, perhaps, the period they were writing in.

Sometimes, Literary Translators work from a rough translation prepared by another person, which they refine into a more acceptable form.

Few people make a living from literary translation as it can take many years to build a reputation. So it's usual to combine literary translation with other work.

As a Translator, you will usually work on your own. You will use reference books, specialist dictionaries and internet resources in your area of work.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Translator, you'll need:

  • an in-depth knowledge of at least one foreign language
  • excellent English language skills
  • knowledge of the culture of the countries in which the target language is spoke
  • attention to detail
  • the ability to write clearly
  • to remain impartial and free of bias
  • to be prepared to work mainly on your own
  • good communication skills when dealing with clients
  • patience, persistence and good concentration, as the work can be complex
  • excellent keyboard skills and familiarity with computers
  • to be able to work at speed in order to meet deadlines
  • good research skills, including online, to find and check the accuracy of information

If you specialise in a particular field of translation, you must be prepared to keep up to date with any advances in that area.

In some cases, you could be translating confidential information, so you need to be discreet and trustworthy.

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £23,000 - £24,500
  • With experience: £26,000 - £31,000
  • Senior Translators earn £33,000

Hours of work

Translators usually work 39 hours a week. You might need to work late and at weekends, especially as deadlines approach.

Where could I work?

Most Translators are self-employed freelancers.

Organisations that employ Translators include large industrial and commercial companies.

The BBC and the Civil Service employ translators full-time. Major cities have translation companies that employ staff on a full-time and freelance basis.

Some local authorities employ people with knowledge of one or more ethnic minority languages to work as Community Translators.

There are limited opportunities for Translators to join organisations such as the European Court of Justice, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the United Nations.


Freelance Translators tend to specialise in particular areas, such as medical or legal work.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers and on specialist language recruitment agency websites.

The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) also advertise vacancies on their websites.

Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.

Take a look at our General Information Article 'Finding Work Online'.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

The usual route is to begin by completing a degree course in modern languages. There are also some degree courses that combine translation studies with one or more languages.

Postgraduate training is useful. Some courses allow you to specialise in areas such as scientific, technical, medical, literary or audio-visual translation. Please check course details carefully.

The Chartered Institute of Linguists Educational Trust (IoLET) provides the Diploma in Translation (DipTrans). This is a postgraduate-level qualification. You can find a list of course providers on the Chartered Institute of Linguists' (CIOL) website; some centres run the Diploma by distance learning.

The European Commission offers five-month translation traineeships to graduates, with the Directorate General for Translation (DGT).

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.


It is useful to join the CIOL or Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) to gain professional recognition, networking opportunities, support and guidance, and access to development opportunities such as courses, workshops and seminars.

The European Commission run translating workshops in various EU countries, where you will get the opportunity to develop your skills.

The Institute of Linguists offer a level 2 certificate in languages for business. This course consists of three controlled assessments and one exam. The topics you could be covering include:

  • companies and organisations
  • business communication and correspondence
  • international travel
  • sales and marketing
  • customer service
  • rules and regulations

Other courses could be available in your area


Translators might combine their work with interpreting services. Some go into teaching or training roles. There are opportunities to set up recruitment or consultancy services, selecting and recruiting other Translators to meet a client's needs.

Work Experience

Some entrants have had work experience abroad, for example, in a translation service or company.

Rehabilitation of Offenders

This career can be an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 if the work involves matters of national security.

Where this is the case, this means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.


For entry to a degree course in a modern language, the usual requirement is:

  • 2 A levels including the modern language(s) relevant to the course
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in your A level subjects
  • a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • BTEC level 3 qualifications
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

However, course requirements vary, so please check college/university websites carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities


Some entrants have had work experience abroad, for example, in a translation service or company.


If you don't have the qualifications you usually need to enter a degree course, you might be able to start one after completing a college or university Access course. You don't usually need any qualifications to start an Access course, but you should check individual course details.

The Open University offers degrees in French, German and Spanish.

Middlesex University offers a part-time degree in translation.

Some centres offer the Chartered Institute of Linguists Educational Trust (IoLET) Diploma in Translation by distance learning.

The University of Portsmouth offers an MA in Translation Studies by distance learning.


The European Commission Directorate Service for Translation offers traineeships; trainees are paid a grant. Entry is normally with a degree and perfect command of the target language (usually mother tongue or main language) and thorough knowledge of at least two other official European Union languages.

Further Information

Open University (OU)

Tel: 0845 3006090


CILT: National Centre for Languages


EU Careers: European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO)


Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI)



Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL)

Tel: 0207 940 3100



Languages Work


European Commission



European Commission Office in Scotland

Scottish enquiries



CILTCymru The National Centre for languages in Wales


People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales



Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith


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