Mandarin Chinese Language Opportunities Ref. 2041

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Cheltenham, London
Outside London: rewards package in excess of £30,200 (includes concessionary payment). Within London: rewards package ranging from £32,650 - £34,400 depending on agency (includes concessionary payment). An allowance may also be paid.
The Intelligence Agencies are offering you an exciting opportunity to put your language skills to valuable use in one of our organisations.


Your knowledge of Mandarin could open up a fascinating career in British intelligence. Join GCHQ, MI5 or MI6 and you’ll play a key role in helping to keep the UK safe from external threats.

You’ll use your language and analytical skills to provide intelligence insights that often have direct impact on UK government policy and decision-making. Your challenge is to seek out the important information from Mandarin language material and make that material accessible and understandable to others. You’ll play an active role in directing projects and driving forward investigations, working right at the heart of intelligence. It’s gripping work, which will test your judgement, people skills and linguistic ability every step of the way.

While the role is challenging, our flexible working policy ensures a healthy work-life balance. Wherever possible, we accommodate reduced hours or job share options, balanced against business needs.

Have a listen to a Mandarin audio clip here. If you can understand most of what is said, we strongly encourage you to apply!


If you’re excited about working with us and think you have some of what we’re looking for but aren’t sure if you’re 100% there yet......rule yourself in and give it a go!

Your language skills could come from growing up in a multilingual family or you may have studied Mandarin at university to degree level. You’ll certainly have a passion for the language and an ability to translate its nuances into clear, well-drafted English.

Your linguistic skills need to be complemented by a good knowledge of Mandarin culture, history, politics, ideology and economy. You also need to combine an analytical, enquiring mind with strong powers of judgement and good people skills.


At the Intelligence Agencies, we’re proud of our inclusive and supportive working environment that’s designed to encourage open minds and attitudes. As organisations that value and nurture talent, we’re committed to helping you fulfil your potential. But you’re not expected to come to us with a wealth of knowledge, or skills, on day one. With comprehensive training and development opportunities, tailored to your personal needs and the requirements of your work, we’ll enable you to flourish in your role and perform to the very best of your abilities.

We’ll support you to enhance your linguistic skills further, for example, through ongoing language maintenance classes. You’ll also receive training on non-language aspects of the job, including more technical skills.

In return, you’ll receive a range of benefits (including a recognition payment to reward the advancement of language skills).


There are openings for Mandarin specialists at all three of the UK’s intelligence agencies. GCHQ uses its expertise in technology and cyber to collect foreign intelligence that linguists translate and analyse to protect the UK from terrorism, hackers, espionage and organised crime. MI5 is responsible for the domestic security of the UK and the work of our linguists helps to identify and counter threats to the UK from terrorism, espionage and cyber. MI6 works overseas to gather intelligence that helps protect the nation and its interests.


The UK Intelligence Agencies are Equal Opportunities employers, committed to reflecting the society we protect. Our recruitment process is fair, transparent and based on merit. We particularly welcome applications from diverse and under-represented groups.


Cheltenham for GCHQ, or London for MI5 and MI6. We cannot guarantee which agency you will join. However, if you are successful, we will explore this with you in the latter phases of the recruitment process.


To apply for this position, you must meet our nationality, residency and security requirements. You can find these on our website.

You’ll be required to complete an application form, providing contact details and equal opportunities monitoring information. You’ll also be asked to provide background about your education and employment history, as well as details of your Mandarin language skills and any other language(s) you have learnt and your motivation for using Mandarin a role in intelligence. You’ll only have to fill out one application form: under the single-application process, each of the three agencies will receive a copy of your application for consideration.

Following this, the recruitment team will conduct a paper sift of applications. Successful applicants will be invited to attend a Mandarin language test (normally held in London) which will assess your Mandarin language ability across a range of tasks including listening, reading comprehension and translation.

If you’re successful at the Mandarin language test, a decision will be made as to which agency will best suit your skill set and this agency will invite you to attend their assessment centre. The assessment centre will include a face-to-face interview and other exercises. For GCHQ the assessment centre takes place in Gloucestershire. MI5 and MI6 run their respective assessment centres in London.  

Once the successful applicant has been determined, the candidate will be asked to attend a security interview with a Vetting Officer. You’ll also be required to complete a hearing test.


To be eligible to apply, you must meet our residency criteria. 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.

Due to vetting requirements, you’ll need to be 18 years old or above to apply. Your application may take around six to nine months to process.

Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member, provided that they are British. You should also make them aware of the importance of discretion. You should not post on social media sites about your application or discuss it with anyone else at this stage. You’ll receive further guidance during the recruitment process.

Please note you should only launch your application from within the UK. If you’re based overseas, you should wait until you visit the UK to launch an application. Applying from outside the UK will impact on our ability to progress your application.

The Intelligence Agencies are committed to reflecting both equal opportunities and the society we protect.

This Program / Vacancy is closed to applications.