Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Professional Services

What you will do:

In your day-to-day duties you could:

  • reproduce text clearly, accurately and in the style intended by the author
  • use specialist translation software
  • use specialist knowledge, like technical terminology
    research, legal, technical or scientific terms
  • consult with experts to make sure the translation is accurate
  • keep your language skills up to date and current


You’ll need:

  • foreign language skills
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • customer service skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work on your own
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
  • concentration skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Translator, specific GCSE (or equivalent) subjects are not mandatory, but a strong educational foundation in certain areas can be beneficial for developing the skills and knowledge required for this career. Translators are responsible for converting written or spoken content from one language to another while maintaining accuracy and clarity. Here are some subjects that can be helpful:

  1. Languages: Mastery of at least two languages is essential. While this doesn’t relate to specific subjects, it’s important to have a deep understanding of both your native language and the language(s) you intend to translate.
  2. English Language (or Your Native Language): If English is not your native language, it’s essential to have strong proficiency in it since many translation jobs involve translating into or out of English.
  3. Foreign Languages: If you plan to translate from a foreign language into your native language, you should be proficient in that foreign language.
  4. Literature and Writing: Courses in literature, creative writing, or linguistics can help you develop strong writing skills and an appreciation for the nuances of language.
  5. Cultural Studies (optional): Knowledge of the culture associated with the language(s) you’re translating can aid in understanding idiomatic expressions and cultural context.
  6. Computer Skills: Proficiency with translation software and computer-assisted translation tools is becoming increasingly important in the field.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly

You’ll usually need a degree or postgraduate qualification in translation.

Relevant degrees include:

  • languages – courses which specialise in linguistics or translation may give you an advantage but are not essential
  • combined degrees which include a subject like law or science with languages

You could also do a postgraduate course like an master’s in translation or translation studies.

Career tips
Language translation skills in demand include:

  • French
  • German
  • English
  • Russian
  • Chinese
  • Arabic
  • Spanish

Working Hours and Environment:

Typically you could work 37 to 39 hours a week, occasionally including evenings or weekends.

You could work in an office, from home or at a client’s business.

Career Path & Progression:

Most translators work freelance or through translation agencies. With experience you could start your own translation agency, or move into teaching.

You could specialise in a particular subject area like law, medicine or finance.