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Bilingual secretary

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

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £35,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 30 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

Some employers may ask for GCSEs, but most will be more interested in your IT, telephone and office skills than formal qualifications.

You’ll need to be fluent in at least one foreign language, gained from a relevant qualification or experience living abroad. 

Most businesses look for bilingual secretaries who can speak a European language like French, German, Spanish and Italian. Other languages like Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic are also growing in demand.

A degree in languages or combined languages and business studies, or a qualification in administration or office skills, are useful but not essential.

You could also get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • organisational skills
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • the ability to prioritise your work
  • good IT skills

3. What you'll do

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

If you work using 2 or more foreign languages, you might be known as a multilingual secretary or PA.

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 to £22,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: Up to £35,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. This could vary in some companies because of international time differences. 

You’ll mainly be based in an office. 

In some jobs you may need to travel overseas.

6. Career path and progression

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

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

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Last updated: 11 September 2018