What qualifications are required?
For employment where foreign languages are a requirement you will need a language degree. You generally choose two languages if you study applied languages. To qualify as a teacher you need to complete a PME (Post-graduate Master in Education). For a qualification as an EU lawyer-linguist you need a law degree and a thorough command of two languages in addition to your native language.
For employment in other areas where languages are an asset you can pick a language subject e.g. German with an engineering degree or Spanish with a business degree. You can pick a language module with any course.
You can also benefit from a language skill even without formal qualifications, perhaps you have a home language other than English. These skills will be valuable on your CV.
What are the typical routes into this sector?
Languages specialist typically complete a languages degree at 3rd level. Languages can also be combined with other fields e.g. business, law or engineering. In for example international business or some hospitality courses you will be required to spend time abroad.
But you don’t need to be fluent for a language to give your career a major boost. Conversational German might help an engineer win a place on a prestigious project. Some Arabic might win a journalist or diplomat a foreign posting. Spanish might transform the career of a chef. Every diplomat knows that a few phrases in a person’s native language can be one of the surest ways to make a good first impression.
You can also benefit from a language skill even without a formal qualification, but in that case your language skill is either not a degree-level requirement or it suffices to be a native speaker.