How to become a bilingual secretary

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

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Completing a recognised qualification in administration or office skills may improve your job prospects. Colleges offer a wide range of full-time and part-time courses. Relevant subjects include:

  • business administration
  • typing
  • audio transcription
  • computer skills
  • shorthand

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for these courses vary.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

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

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • translating documents and letters
  • writing letters, emails and reports in a foreign language
  • translating or summarising articles from foreign journals
  • speaking in a foreign language on the phone or face-to-face
  • interpreting at meetings

You may also have general administrative duties, including:

  • acting as a personal assistant (PA) to a manager
  • organising meetings, making appointments and keeping a diary
  • arranging travel and accommodation for business trips
  • filing, typing and photocopying
  • updating computer databases

Working environment

You could work in an office.

Career path and progression

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.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Treasury Apprentice

  • Wage: £12,000.00 Annually
  • Location:

Commercial Administrator - Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £146.25 Weekly
  • Location: Burnley

Courses In England

Business Administration

  • Start date: 01 January 2021
  • Location:

Diploma Level 3 BA

  • Start date: 01 November 2020
  • Location:

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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