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Bilingual Secretary Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Bilingual Secretary. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Bilingual Secretary
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Bilingual Secretary Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Organisations with branches or clients in other countries often use bilingual secretaries to help them deal with communications in other languages. The work varies greatly from organisation to organisation. The job might include:

  • translating incoming mail
  • composing letters, e-mails and reports in a foreign language working from English notes
  • translating or summarising articles from foreign journals
  • using a second language on the phone, or face-to-face with visitors
  • interpreting at meetings.
  • Some jobs require day to day use of a second language. In other jobs secretaries might work mostly in English, using their language skills only occasionally.

Bilingual secretaries also have general administrative duties including:

  • arranging meetings
  • making appointments and keeping a diary
  • making travel arrangements and booking hotels
  • maintaining filing systems and databases
  • using office equipment such as photocopiers and faxes
  • converting foreign currency prices into sterling.

Hours and Environment

Bilingual secretaries work normal office hours, Monday to Friday. They may be required to work at other times because of time differences between countries. Part-time work and job sharing may be available.

Work is usually office-based, with much of the time spent seated at a desk.a comfortable office. Some travel may be required, possibly abroad.

Skills and Interests

To be a bilingual secretary you will need:

  • excellent communication skills in English
  • the ability to read, write, speak and listen in one or more foreign languages
  • excellent organisational skills
  • good keyboard skills and confidence with a range of word processing and computer packages
  • a friendly, polite and patient personality
  • to work quickly, accurately and efficiently - you may have to meet tight deadlines
  • to be able to work unsupervised on your own initiative
  • discretion - you may be working with confidential material.


There are no fixed entry requirements, but you will need a good general education, secretarial skills, and fluency in one or more foreign languages.

The languages most in demand are French, German and Spanish, but you could earn a high salary with skills in languages like Russian or Japanese. Bilingual Welsh/English speakers are also in demand in Wales.

Some candidates enter with a degree in languages or related subject. Minimum entry requirements for a language degree are five GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) plus two A levels/three Highers (with at least one in a foreign language) or equivalent.

For details of qualification equivalents see:

Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
Scottish Qualifications Authority

An Access to Higher Education qualification may also be accepted for entry to certain courses. If experienced in a related field, you may be able to gain recognition of skills through Accredited Prior Learning (APL). Please check with colleges or universities for exact entry requirements.

Some degrees combine foreign languages with business studies. However, many language degree courses do not cover the specialist and technical vocabulary that a bilingual secretary needs. You may need to improve your skills with a postgraduate diploma or other further study.


There are many qualifications that are useful for bilingual secretaries offered by bodies like OCR, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Examinations Board (LCCIEB), Edexcel and SQA. They cover both secretarial and language topics.

LCCIEB offers a range of qualifications for European business purposes - the Commercial Language Assistant Certificate (CLAC), the European Executive Assistant Certificate (EEAC), and the Diploma in European Business Administration (DEBA). All combine business and secretarial skills with graded listening, speaking and written tests in French, German and Spanish.

OCR offers the Higher Diploma in Administrative Procedures with French, German, Italian and Spanish, and the Higher Bilingual Diploma in Administrative Procedures (English/Welsh). They also offer Level 1-3 Certificates in Business Language Competence for French, German, Italian or Spanish; and Basic and Intermediate Certificates for French, German or Spanish Text Processing.

There are NVQ/SVQ Language Units for Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing at levels 1- 4. French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Dutch, Welsh, Irish, Portuguese and Russian are currently available. They are also available as GNVQ additional units.

Secretarial skills are recognised by NVQ/SVQs in Administration at Levels 1-4.

There are also courses offered by HE, FE and private colleges, which are suitable for graduates.


There are opportunities for bilingual secretaries in organisations like multinational companies, import/export companies, banks, insurance companies, freight companies, travel companies, law firms and the Diplomatic Service.

As links strengthen between the UK and other European Union countries there is more demand for workers with foreign language skills. There are often opportunities to work abroad; this can build up experience and fluency.

In large organisations promotion to personal assistant and to a senior executive level may be possible. Gaining more qualifications and learning further languages can increase promotion prospects.

There may be opportunities to move into sales and marketing, translation or office management.

Annual Income

The annual income section is intended as a guideline only. Actual rates of pay may vary.

Income starts at around £15,000 per year.
With more skills and experience you could earn around £23,000.
An experienced bilingual personal assistant with a large international organisation could earn up to £30,000.

Further information:

National Centre for Languages (CILT) *
20 Bedfordbury
Tel: 020 7379 5101

LCCI Examinations Board
Athena House
112 Station Road
DA15 7BJ
Tel: 020 8302 0261

1 Hills Road
Tel: 01223 552552


National Training Organisations (NTOs) ceased to be recognised by the government on 31 March 2002. However, some are continuing to operate in their respective fields. Please contact individual NTOs with queries regarding their current status.

The Secretary of State for Education and Skills is licensing new Sector Skills Councils - charged with boosting skills and productivity in business sectors. For information about Sector Skills Councils, their roles and responsibilities, please visit the Sector Skills Development Agency website:

Other Useful Bilingual Secretary Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Bilingual Secretary job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Bilingual Secretary Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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