Use your subject

Languages and Cultures

Think about what 'using your subject' means to you and what you're really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it's a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

As a start, use the resources below to create your own list of career ideas to research.

Remember that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject.

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Languages and Cultures graduates on Prospects and Targetjobs but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start-ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject.

Some career options

Our information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start to explore the following occupational areas. However you are not restricted to these and you should also consider any other additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Civil servant

The Civil Service Fast Stream is an accelerated leadership development programme providing graduates with the experience, skills and knowledge to become senior leaders within the Civil Service. It recruits graduates into a variety of administrative and policy roles via the Fast Stream or the general entry routes.

Through a variety of different placements or postings in government departments and agencies you’ll get experience of working in front-line operational delivery, policy and corporate roles and depending on the role potentially working with general public or senior government advisers or government ministers. If you want to influence decisions or make a difference on government policy and public service at a national level, enjoy analytical work, presenting persuasive evidence-based reports, scrutinising the implications of public sector policy and are eager to take on responsibility then you might enjoy the Civil Service Fast Stream.

If you are a language graduate you may be particularly attracted to roles/departments such as the Diplomatic Services Operational Officer in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Trade, the Department for International Development and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which has a lot of links to Europe.

Departments of specific interest to scientists include Government Statistical Service, Government Operational Research Service, Science and Engineering Scheme and the Project Delivery Scheme, but there are many more.

Use our Occupations section Public sector administration for more information and links to useful websites.


Converts spoken statements from one language to another. Interpreting involves listening to, understanding and memorising content in the original 'source' language, then reproducing it in a different 'target' language. This is often done in only one direction, normally into the interpreter's native language, but may be on a two-way basis. It can be done in person, by telephone, via video conferencing or through the use of internet based technologies. A relevant postgraduate qualification is usually required.


Researches, investigates and presents news, current affairs and specialist interest items, for newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the internet. Roles and organisations that are particularly relevant to language graduates, particularly those with wide international language skills and knowledge of culture and business, are foreign correspondent, BBC World Service, Reuters, Bloomberg etc.

Language analyst GCHQ

Use their in-depth language knowledge to translate and analyse digital information to provide an insight into what's happening where and when across the world and to protect national security. Typically recruit people who are fluent in, or native speakers or have degree-level knowledge of Arabic, Persian, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, Mirpuri, Pashto, Punjabi, Russian, Urdu and West African languages. For graduates with a 2:1 degree in two European languages, there are opportunities to retrain in a rare language.

Logistics and distribution manager

Organise the storage and distribution of goods to ensure the right products are delivered to the right location on time and at a competitive cost. They are likely to be involved in transportation, stock control, warehousing and monitoring the flow of goods and must have an understanding of the complete supply chain in order to co-ordinate it effectively. The role will include liaison, sometimes internationally, with suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers.

Purchasing manager

Responsible for buying the best quality raw materials, goods, services, and equipment for their company/organisation at the best price. Many companies source these goods and services internationally and language skills can be useful when obtaining quotes, negotiating prices and drafting contracts.

Sales executive

Sell their company’s goods and services to businesses and individuals in the UK and abroad, contacting potential customers to win new business and maintain good relationships with existing clients to make repeat sales. Roles such as Export Sales Manager for companies with overseas clients will be of most interest to language graduates. The job may be based in the UK but have opportunities to travel or have phone contact with international clients. This is a target driven industry.

Secondary school teacher (Languages)

Teaches one or two languages to pupils aged 11-18; plans lessons in line with the national curriculum and delivers them to their pupils, with the aim of ensuring a positive learning culture. They also observe and record the progress of their class. Must network and liaise with colleagues, parents, carers, and other education professionals. They need to keep up to date with government requirements, new resources, teaching methods and developments in their subject. Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) is usually required.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)

Involves teaching English to people of all ages who are not native speakers. This can take place in the UK ie to refugees or immigrants, or abroad. Classes may be conducted in schools, colleges or universities, often through interactive exercises eg language games and role-playing in English, even for complete beginners. The aim is to improve communication through listening.

Speaking, reading and writing. Work involves lesson planning, developing teaching resources, involvement in social activities, marking work and giving feedback.

Use our Occupations section Teaching English as a foreign language for more information and links to useful websites.


Converts written material from one or more 'source language' into the 'target language', usually their mother tongue. Translators ideally need an excellent command of two or more languages; those most in demand are the official languages of the European Union and the United Nations. They may work on a range of documents which could be commercial, technical, scientific, educational, literary, legal or educational. Can work on a freelance basis from home either for translation agencies or as an in-house translator.