Mandarin Chinese language opportunities

c. £30,000 including language allowance
28 Jan 2013
25 Mar 2013
Public Sector
Contract Type
Full Time

MI5 and MI6 protect the UK from threats to national security including terrorism and espionage. Join us as a Mandarin Chinese language expert and your Mandarin Chinese language skills and cultural awareness will make a key contribution to the work of our investigative and operational teams.

The roles

The roles at MI5 and MI6 are subtly different.

Join MI5 and you’ll be a core member of the investigative team. Your work will involve translating a wide variety of challenging audio and textual material from Mandarin Chinese into English. You’ll listen to Mandarin Chinese language telephone calls and work with written documents intercepted under warrant, and your translations and analysis will feed directly into the team’s investigations. You may also be asked to provide interpreting support to the team.  As your experience grows you’ll have the opportunity to undertake further assessments and training to become a Mandarin Chinese investigator within the team, and later to take on operational work such as agent running.

Take a role with MI6 and, in addition to translating from both written and spoken sources, which will initially be the core of your work, you will have the opportunity to get involved in interpreting, language training, open source research, and using your expertise to help other government agencies. You will also have opportunities to take on more direct operational work if you have the desire and aptitude and, although the larger part of your career is likely to be spent in London, there are opportunities to work overseas.

Your skills

Naturally you will need strong Mandarin Chinese language skills that enable you, for example, to comfortably read newspaper articles and understand news broadcasts in Mandarin Chinese. You can assess your skills using the language tests on our websites. You’ll also need wider knowledge of Chinese culture and current affairs and you should be able to translate from Mandarin Chinese into clear, well-drafted and balanced reports in English, drawing out the relevant points from sometimes lengthy pieces of material. You’ll be confident verbally briefing investigative and operational teams and other colleagues across the intelligence agencies.

To apply

To be eligible to apply you must be a born or naturalised British citizen and one of your parents must be a British citizen or have substantial ties to the UK. Candidates must normally have been resident in the UK for eight out of the last 10 years.

On the application form you will be able to specify whether you wish to be considered for a vacancy at MI5, MI6 or both agencies. At this stage we cannot guarantee which agency you would join if you were to be successful, however we will explore this with you during the recruitment process.

Please note that if you have applied for a Mandarin Chinese language role at MI5, MI6 or GCHQ within the last 12 months and have been unsuccessful at the language test stage, you will not be eligible to reapply for this role at this time as the three intelligence agencies use the same language test.

For further information visit

Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member.

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