Arabic Language Specialist Ref.2839

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London and Cheltenham based with some UK & overseas travel
Full-time and part-time opportunities (flexible working hours available)
Cheltenham: £32,092 (rising to £35,092 after successfully completing a 6-month probationary period), London: £39,951 plus the possibility to qualify for additional language allowances once in role.

About Us 

MI6 and GCHQ are part of the UK’s Intelligence Services. We work together to safeguard Britain’s people, interests and businesses from various threats at home, overseas and online, including cyber-attacks, espionage, terrorism, and organised crime. Working across our vital operations, you’ll deliver impact at the heart of national security, all within a supportive and inclusive environment that allows everyone to thrive. 

The Role

As an Arabic Language Specialist, you’ll bring your linguistic and cultural expertise to our mission. Whether you’re based at MI6 or GCHQ, you’ll play a key role in helping operational teams gather intelligence from foreign language materials. You’ll be a subject matter expert, able to identify the nuances within the language and deliver accurate, clear translations that meet mission requirements.

At MI6, your role is integral to operational planning and delivery cycles. As an expert in applied language use, you’ll ensure intelligence can be understood by our operational teams. You’ll need to be competent in reading, writing, speaking and listening to Arabic, as you’ll be translating and interpreting a range of materials, carrying out research and sharing your findings. This will support your operational work, including targeting, casework, training or operational planning and management.

You’ll be trusted to work individually and manage your workload – but you won’t be left on your own. As part of a multi-disciplinary team working within a wider linguistic community, you’ll collaborate with those around you, share your knowledge and even contribute to language profession initiatives. In doing so, you’ll maintain professional standards and best practice in applied language use and provide the cultural insights that are essential to our work.

At GCHQ, you’ll undertake vital language work on high priority missions. Working with analysts, you’ll deliver against requirements and enrich both colleague and customer understanding. With your Arabic language and cultural expertise, you’ll add significant value to operations as you undertake a range of key tasks and provide fast-paced, detailed language outputs. 

Day-to-day, your workload will vary. You could be meeting with stakeholders or internal and external customers to understand their requirements, carrying out analytical or report work, or collaborating with senior linguists. Importantly, you’ll be part of a supportive team working together to deliver results.

About You

You don’t need any experience to join MI6, just strong active and passive language skills, you’ll know Arabic to at least C1 level and have cultural expertise with a broad understanding of the Arabic-speaking region along with excellent written English and a familiarity with standard IT packages.

As a problem-solver with a keen eye for accuracy, you’ll be able to see the bigger picture, and use your knowledge of language as well as Arabic culture to deliver key insights. And of course, you’ll enjoy working as part of a team and be comfortable sharing your knowledge with individuals at all levels., You’ll have a willingness to travel as short-term overseas trips are considered a core part of the role – we’ll make every effort to ensure personal circumstances are taken into consideration when travel is required. You’ll also have opportunities for full overseas postings after your first London-based placement.

To work at GCHQ, you’ll need a high level of Arabic knowledge – either to C1 or degree level, or from growing up as a heritage or native speaker. And your wide range of knowledge on the Arabic-speaking region is key, as we can’t predict where we might need to focus.

We’re looking for individuals with a range of experiences and backgrounds. You’ll have excellent reading and listening skills, and while active language skills will become more important in the role, you shouldn’t deselect yourself if you can’t demonstrate these. Analytical and detail-oriented, you’ll be comfortable working with high volumes of information to solve problems and come to conclusions. Occasional UK travel may be necessary, and you might also have opportunities to travel overseas, though this isn’t a requirement at GCHQ.

Training and Development

At MI6 and GCHQ, we’re committed to ensuring you have the support and guidance you need to build a rewarding career at the heart of national security. From language events and workshops, through to acquiring professional qualifications, the strong learning culture at MI6 and GCHQ will continuously develop you, your knowledge and skills.

As part of the selection process for MI6, we’ll identify specific areas for development and tailor a plan to meet your needs. Upon joining, you’ll have an induction and be assigned a buddy from the same language area to help you settle in and also a profession head to oversee your career interests.  You’ll receive training in applied skills such as interpretation, as well as gaining access to a range of language and non-language training opportunities, including our corporate Academy. Plus, you’ll also have the chance to gain qualifications as part of the role, including CEFR-based language exams attracting allowance payments.

GCHQ has an equally strong development offering. Working alongside experienced linguists, you’ll be learning every day from a community of language experts who’ll share their knowledge and encourage your contributions. As well as being assigned a buddy on day one, you’ll undertake a comprehensive induction package that spans multiple areas of the business to see how Arabic language is used. CIOL (Chartered Institute of Linguists) qualifications can be attained, and you’ll also have opportunities to upskill which in turn will attract financial rewards.

Rewards and Benefits

At MI6 you’ll receive a starting salary of £39,951 with the possibility to qualify for additional language allowances once in role. 

At GCHQ you’ll receive a starting salary of £32,092. Upon successful completion of the 6-month probationary period you will be eligible for an additional payment of £3,000 p.a. in recognition of your language skill. Other benefits include:  
•    25 Days Annual Leave automatically rising to 30 days after 5 years' service, and an additional 10.5 days public and privilege holidays 
•    Opportunities to be recognised through our employee performance scheme 
•    Interest-free season ticket loan 
•    Excellent pension scheme 
•    Cycle to work scheme 
•    Facilities such as a gym, restaurant and on-site coffee bars (at some locations) 
•    Paid parental and adoption leave.  

Equal Opportunities

At MI6 and GCHQ diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission. To protect the UK, we need a truly diverse workforce that reflects the society we serve. This includes diversity in every sense of the word: those with different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, ways of thinking and those with disabilities or neurodivergent conditions. We therefore welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including those from groups that are under-represented in our workforce such as women, those from an ethnic minority background, people with disabilities and those from low socio-economic backgrounds. 

Find out more about our culture, working environment and diversity on our websites: 
We’re Disability Confident 

MI6 and GCHQ are proud to have achieved Leader status within the DWP’s Disability Confident scheme.  This is aimed at encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people.  Being Disability Confident, we aim to offer a person-to-person interview to any candidate who self-identifies as disabled and meets the essential criteria for the role.  This is our ‘Offer of Interview’ (OOI). To secure an interview for this vacancy, the essential criteria (in order of application process) are:  
•   To demonstrate a strong motivation for applying to work for the UK intelligence agencies - measured at  application sift 
•    A demonstrable high level of Arabic by achieving a pass in our language tests 

What to Expect 

Our recruitment process is fair, transparent, and based on merit. Here is a brief overview of each stage, in order: 

•    Initial application and eligibility sift 
•    In-person language tests in London
•    In-person interview and analysis test in Cheltenham or London

Please note, you must successfully pass each stage of the process to progress to the next.  Your application may take around 6 – 9 months to process including vetting, so we advise you to continue any current employment until you’ve received your final job offer. You may also be required to undergo a hearing test for this role.
We regret that we are unable to reimburse any travel expenses.

Before You Apply 

To work at MI6 or GCHQ you need to be a British citizen or hold dual British nationality. You can read our full eligibility criteria

This role requires the highest security clearance, known as Developed Vetting (DV). It’s something everyone in the UK Intelligence Community undertakes. You can find out more about the vetting process.

Please note we have a strict drugs policy, so once you start your application, you can’t take any recreational drugs and you’ll need to declare your previous drug usage at the relevant stage. 

For MI6 the role is based in London, so you’ll need to live within a commutable distance. Please consider any financial implications and practicalities before submitting an application. A loan is available to support people relocating to London. 

For GCHQ the role is based in Cheltenham, so you’ll need to live within a commutable distance. Please consider any financial implications and practicalities before submitting an application, as we do not offer relocation costs. 

Please note, you should only launch your application from within the UK. If you are 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. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member.  

Right to Withdraw Statement:  

Please be aware that we withhold the right to bring forward the closing date for this role from the original closing date once a certain number of applications have been received. Please be mindful of this and submit your application at your earliest convenience to avoid disappointment.  


This Program / Vacancy is closed to applications.