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

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £40,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 variable

You could work: evenings / weekends; attending events or appointments

Day to day tasks

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • reproducing the text clearly, accurately and in the style intended by the author
  • using specialist translation software
  • using specialist knowledge, like technical terminology
  • researching legal, technical or scientific terms and consulting with experts to make sure the translation is accurate
  • matching the culture of the target audience

Working environment

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

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly
  • a qualification with a professional body

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.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information
Direct application

You may be able to apply for a paid translation traineeship with the European Commission if you have a degree, and can translate 2 EU official languages into English.

Other routes

You can take a diploma in translation through the Chartered Institute of Linguists, which is a postgraduate level qualification.

The Institute of Translation and Interpreting also has details of organisations offering training in translation.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

  • You must be fluent in one or more languages as well as English, and have knowledge of the culture in the relevant country, usually gained from living and working there.
  • You may have to pass enhanced background checks if your work is related to national security.

More information

Career tips

Language translation skills in demand include:French; German; English; Russian; Chinese; Arabic; Spanish

Further information

You'll find more details about becoming a translator from the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

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

You'll find more details about becoming a translator from the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • foreign language skills
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • customer service skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to work on your own
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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