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Bilingual secretary

Bilingual secretaries provide administrative services in English and one or more foreign languages.

Annual Salary

£22,000 to £40,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 a week

You could work: evenings; flexibly

Future employment

There will be 18.7% fewer Bilingual secretary jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

In your day to day duties, you could:

  • translate documents and letters
  • write letters, emails and reports in a foreign language
  • translate or summarise articles from foreign journals
  • speak in a foreign language on the phone or in person
  • interpret at meetings

For general administrative duties, you could:

  • act as a personal assistant (PA) to a manager
  • organise meetings, make appointments and keep a diary
  • arrange travel and accommodation for business trips
  • do filing, typing and photocopying
  • update computer databases

Working environment

You could work in an office.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly

It could help you if you have a degree in modern languages or languages combined with business studies, although this is not essential.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information

Completing a recognised qualification in administration or office skills may help you to get a job. Colleges offer a wide range of full-time and part-time courses.

Relevant subjects include:

  • business administration
  • computer skills
  • digital skills
  • shorthand
  • word processing
  • T Level in Management and Administration

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for these courses vary.

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level
For more information

You can get into this job through a business administrator advanced apprenticeship and combine it with your language skills to find work.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
For more information
Direct application

You can apply to companies directly if you have some of the relevant skills and knowledge required for this role.

You'll need at least one A level or equivalent in your second language unless it's your native tongue, or you became fluent by living abroad.

Employers may also expect you to have GCSEs or relevant office skills and experience.

More information

Career tips

Most businesses look for bilingual secretaries who can speak a European language like French, German, Spanish or Italian.

Other languages like Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic are also growing in demand.

You can develop your IT and administration skills by doing a free online course through The Skills Toolkit.

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the Chartered Institute of Linguists for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

Further information

You can get more advice about working and training in languages through the Chartered Institute of Linguists.

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With experience, you could be promoted to personal assistant or office manager.

You could move into translating or interpreting, or international business, sales or marketing.

You could move into a specialised bilingual role like bilingual legal secretary or bilingual medical secretary.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • administration skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • active listening skills
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • knowledge of English language
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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