LINGUIST | EU Training


EU translator, conference interpreter, proof reader, language editor, lawyer-linguist etc.

Permanent officials of the EU Civil Service are divided into different functional groups and must pass a recruitment competition. Linguists (LI) make up one of these groups.

Since all official EU documents must be made available in the 24 official languages, one in ten EU staff members work as Linguist – otherwise known as translators or interpreters. Linguists are recruited as Administrators, while Lawyer-Linguists are considered Specialists given a diploma in Law is required.

Linguist competitions are usually announced each year in June/July, with the pre-selection exams taking place in September/October. However, the language combinations for which you can apply vary from one year to the next.

The different Linguist options available to candidates vary greatly.

Translators: support and strengthen multilingual communication within Europe. They translate a broad range of political, legal, financial, scientific and technical texts, offer a wide range of linguistic advice to colleagues and help Europeans in different EU countries understand EU policies. The selection procedure for translators will focus on a candidate’s language knowledge and translating skills.

Conference Interpreters: guarantee that the discussions held at meetings are correctly interpreted into one of the 24 official language of the EU, using either simultaneous or consecutive interpreting. They make up the largest interpreting service in the world. The selection procedure for interpreters will focus on a candidate’s language knowledge and interpreting skills.

Proof-readers and Language Editors: proof-read manuscripts in their native language, prepare and edit documentation for publication and check for compliance with style and conventions/rules. The selection procedure focuses on a candidate’s proofreading skills and is assessed on the basis of practical proof-reading tests. Proof-reader and language Editor competitions can be launched at any time throughout the year, but generally tend to occur in spring or autumn.

Lawyer-Linguists: play a vital role in ensuring that all new legislation has the same meaning in every European language. They must be able to discern precisely what EU legislation is intended to convey, and faithfully reflect that in their own native language. The selection procedure for lawyer-linguists will focus on a candidate’s legal expertise, language knowledge and translation skills. Lawyer-linguists competitions can be launched at any time throughout the year, but generally tend to occur in spring or autumn.

Linguists are always recruited as AD-level officials and must complete a similar EPSO competition with the difference being the need to undertake a Language Comprehension test during the pre-selection exams and a live Translation or Interpreting exercise during an ‘intermediate’ stage. After the pre-selection exams have been sat, those who scored the highest progress to this intermediate test stage.

It is also worth noting that once recruited as a Linguist, one can later move to other non-linguistic positions after the initial 2-3 years.

Every EPSO competition starts with its Notice of Competition being published in the Official Journal of the EU. The Notice of Competition is the official and authentic document in which the details and conditions of that specific competition are outlined: such as the exams to be undertaken, the number of people EPSO plans to place on the reserve lists, the language requirements, the application due date etc. Make sure you consult each Linguist competition’s Notice of Competition for the full details.

In addition to the specific requirements for any given competition, to become an EU official applicants must also meet some basic eligibility criteria. These include:

  • EU citizenship. Applicants must be a citizen of one of the EU's 28 Member States.
  • Not having a criminal record.
  • The ability to speak at least 2 official EU languages (one fluently, the other on a strong conversation level).
  • Must have fulfilled all military service requirements.

What differentiates the AD selection process from other profiles is an ‘intermediate’ test stage, which comprises of an E-tray exercise. After the pre-selection exams have been sat, those who scored the highest progress to this intermediate test stage. EPSO invites to this exam about 10-11 times the number of places advertised in any given advertised AD Notice of Competition.

Getting a job at an EU institution is no easy task, but working in EU affairs is a great career choice. Find out every-thing you need to know about EU careers from Online EU Training, the leader in EU selection preparation and advice.

We offers a wealth of practice materials for all stages and levels of the EPSO selection exams, as well as an online community to share ideas and experiences, FREE e-books, helpful tips & tricks articlese-learning materials and free guidance to help EPSO candidates excel. If at any point you have a question or need additional help to understand the EPSO processes, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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