Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Maria O'Neill from STEPS to give some advice for people considering this job:

Maria O'Neill

Civil Engineer


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Maria O'Neill

If you like working with others, and like problem solving then its definitely worth considering. Do you ever look at a bridge/skyscraper etc. and wonder how they did that? Or better still, are you looking at the way the road at home is laid out and thinking if they had of done something differently it would have been better.

Engineering is not a career people think about and say its helping people, but in many ways it is rewarding and just as much about helping people. Engineers design things used everyday that help people get to work, provide clean water, provide sewerage systems, care for the environment....


The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
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Permanent Language Jobs in the EU

Like all the permanent jobs in the EU, permanent language jobs require candidates to first pass the concours organised by EPSO. The competition stages for those who would like to work with languages in the EU Institutions are similar to those already outlined for assistants, administrators, etc., but with some variations depending on the language job profile that is being recruited. And, unfortunately, it still takes 5-9 months to complete the selection procedure starting from the date of publication of the competition notice.

Vacancies in all of the profiles outlined below are announced by a competition notice posted on the EPSO website, which gives full details of the job, the eligibility criteria and the selection procedure.

Click here to find all the information.

What You Need

Applicants for all linguist profiles are required to have:

  • A perfect command of your mother tongue/main language (language 1).
  • A thorough knowledge of English, French or German (language 2) and the ability to translate out of it.
  • A thorough knowledge of a second official language of the EU (language 3) and the ability to translate out of it (proof-readers are not required to have this third language). 
(For fluent Irish speakers, you have the possibility to opt for English as your second language and then either French or German as your third, possibly making the process a wee bit more accessible.)

During the competition stages, candidates will be tested on all three of their languages, as well as the core competencies required for all EU jobs.

For all permanent language jobs, the verbal, abstract and numerical reasoning computerbased test stage will be conducted in your language 2, with interpreters also having to sit some of these tests in language 3.

On top of that, you will have to sit additional ‘language tests’ for all three of your languages. These tests will vary depending on the linguist profile you are applying for - read more about these profiles below.

NOTE: The selection procedure may be subject to changes - always check the EPSO website and relevant competition notices for details.

Linguist Profiles

(a) Translator
While no professional translation experience is needed to become a translator at one of the EU Institutions, in addition to the language skills outlined above applicants must also have:

Completed a university course in any discipline and have obtained a degree. Translators should also have:
• An ability to grasp varied and complex issues, manage information and communicate effectively.
• A capacity to work consistently and under pressure - translators often have to work to very tight deadlines.
• A familiarity with economics, financial affairs, legal matters, technical or scientific fields - more often than not, the texts you will be required to translate will be quite technical.

When to Apply?
Open competitions for translators are published every year in June or July (and at various times for translators at the Court of Justice, who must be legal/linguistic experts) but the languages required vary from year to year. Candidates are recruited according to the needs of the different Institutions and interested candidates should consult EPSO regularly to see if their language skills match those required.

The selection process for translators focuses on language knowledge and skills in translating.

Useful Websites: 
European Parliament: click here
European Commission – Directorate General for Translation
European Court of Justice – Directorate General for Translation
And  ... A Day in the life of a Translator

(b) Conference Interpreter
Conference interpreting at EU level is a specialist skill that must be learned. For those of you thinking about applying for this profile, you need to have a postgraduate qualification in conference interpreting or several years professional experience in the field, as well as the required language skills. NOTE: The most important language for an interpreter is their mother tongue - applicants must be able to express themselves eloquently and coherently in it.

Where to Train
Postgraduate degrees in conference interpreting are offered by a number of universities across Europe (in Ireland, it’s NUI Galway, in case you were wondering) and, best of all, it is not necessary to have studied languages at undergraduate level to be eligible for this qualification. For a full list of EU recognised conference interpreting courses around Europe click here

Check out the DG for Interpretations YouTube channel for some insight to the role here.

Useful Website: Take a look at the interpreter selection pages of the EU Institutions here.

(c) Lawyer-Linguist
EU lawyer-linguists play a vital role in law-making, making sure that all new EU legislation has the same meaning in every European language - a fairly tall order when you think about it! Lawyer- linguists are more than translators; they provide assistance on legal terminology and offer legal analysis in cooperation with other departments. Read more about the role here

In order to become a lawyer-linguist, you must have:
• The level of languages mentioned at the start of this section (to work in the ECJ, these language skills must include a thorough knowledge of French).
• A law degree.

Previous experience of translating legal texts is an asset. Selection for lawyer-linguists can be launched at any time throughout the year, although it tends to be either in spring or autumn. The selection procedure focuses on both legal knowledge and language skills.

Useful Website: Working as a lawyer-linguist at the ECJ here.

(d) Proofreader/Language Editor
EU proofreaders work on texts in their native language. Their main responsibilities include:
• Preparing texts in terms of style and typography.
• Ensuring manuscripts are ready for press release.
• Participating in the design of publications.

Good news also for you bilingual folk: proofreading positions do not have a three language requirement! You must speak an official EU language plus have a good command of second language (English, French or German). Again, to work in the ECJ, applicants must have at least a reasonable knowledge of French.

Applicants need to have 5 years experience or 2 years experience plus post-secondary level education to apply. Part of the selection procedure will include a number of proofreading tests.

Current proofreading job opportunities can be found on EPSO here.

Article by: EMI - The Green Book