Here's How to Become a Translator (Professional Guide)

Here's how to become a translator. The written word is translated from one language to another by a translator. An interpreter, on the other hand, is a person who speaks verbally or uses sign language to translate.

Although most translators need a bachelor's degree, the most crucial prerequisite is that they speak English and at least one additional language well. There are several job-specific training programs available.

how to become a translator

What is a translator?

Usually, translators translate from a source language into their native language. Translators are language and communication professionals who read, understand, and translate written and spoken words from one language to another.

Tourists, companies, and expats can all benefit from their translation services. You can evaluate if this is the correct career option for you by learning more about what translators do and how to become one. The major tasks of translators are described in this article, as well as the stages to become a professional translation.

Typically, translators perform the following:

  • Convert ideas from the source language to their target language equivalents.
  • Fluent in at least two languages, including English and one or more others, in terms of speaking, reading, and writing
  • Style and tone should be conveyed.
  • Work schedules must be managed in order to fulfill deadlines.
  • Accurately, swiftly, and clearly render spoken thoughts.

how to become a translator

Translators help people communicate by translating data from one language to another. The objective of a translator is for the translation to be read as if it were the original. To accomplish so, the translator must be able to produce sentences that flow naturally, while maintaining the accuracy of the original source's thoughts and facts. They must take into account any cultural allusions, such as slang and other non-literal phrases.

Translators must be able to read the original language fluently, although they can not be required to do so. Typically, they only translate into their original tongue. Almost all translation work is done on a computer, and most translation jobs are received and submitted online.

Before becoming final, translations frequently go through numerous changes. Many diverse topic areas require translation services. Despite the fact that these employees are typically not specialists in any one subject or business, many of them specialize in one.

Where do translators work?

Typically, translators work from home. They get their work and submit it online. They must cope with the stress of deadlines and tight timetables on occasion. Because many translators work for themselves, their timetables are typically unpredictable, with periods of little work interspersed with periods of lengthy, irregular hours. Despite this, the majority of people work full-time during normal business hours.

Average salary of a translator

Translators make an average of $20.06 per hour, but their pay can range from $7.25 to $51 per hour.

The majority of translators are self-employed and work from home, although some can work for translation companies. Self-employed translators' schedules are frequently unpredictable, with periods of minimal work and, on occasion, lengthy, irregular hours.

how to become a translator

Most translators, on the other hand, work full-time and on a set schedule. The salary of a translation is determined by a number of criteria, including the translator's language, specialization, skill level, experience, and education.

How to become a translator

To work as a translator, you usually need a bachelor's degree and at least three years of experience. However, becoming proficient in at least two languages is the most crucial need.

To become a professional translator, you need complete the following steps:

Get a high school education

There are various methods to begin preparing for a career in translation as early as possible:

  • In your second language, read a lot.
  • Keep up with the news in your second language.
  • Improve your writing, research, analysis, and public-speaking abilities.
  • Enroll in advanced foreign language lessons and try translating brief texts from one language to another.
  • Pay attention in all of your lessons; this will aid in the development of a broad vocabulary on a range of topics.
  • Learn how to use computers.
  • Spend time in the area or countries where your second language(s) is spoken; there is no better way to understand the subtleties, idioms, and regional terminology of a language.

how to become a translator

Earn a college degree

When applying for translation jobs, those having a bachelor's degree generally have an advantage. Many institutions provide Bachelor's degree programs in general and specialized translation from one language to another.

These programs demand bachelor's students to understand both the written and spoken components of a foreign language, as well as to apply that knowledge to translation. Typically, students can opt to acquire a second foreign language as part of their Bachelor's degree program.

Typical courses in translation degree programs include:

  • Advanced linguistics
  • Linguistics
  • Texts written by experts
  • Terminology
  • Oral expressions
  • Media and translation

Students can acquire a translation degree or a Bachelor's degree in a second language or in the subject in which they want to give translation services, depending on their interests and professional goals (for example: IT, economics, engineering). Students can finish a double or dual major at educational institutions that allow it, increasing their marketability even further.

how to become a translator

Learn a new language

You must be fluent in a second language to work as a translator. If you were up in a multilingual family, you can have an edge, but you can opt to learn a language intensively via schooling. Choose a language to study in high school and continue studies throughout college. To work as a translator, you should have a bachelor's degree in your chosen language.

how to become a translator

You should be well-versed in the languages you deal with, including their grammatical structures, specialist terminology, and cultural knowledge. Studying your own language can also help you explain how it works and comprehend how non-native speakers would approach it.

Get specialized training

Even if you are a native speaker of a language, you will need to improve your translation abilities. Being able to create clear and reliable translations frequently need specialized training in addition to language studies. Many universities and colleges offer specialized programs that might help you prepare for a career in translation. On their website, the American Translators Association provides a list of these schools, programs, and other useful information for anyone interested in following this career path.

Become certified

Although certification is not essential to provide translation services, it does indicate that you have the requisite abilities and can help you stand out to companies.

how to become a translator

The American Translators Association provides certification in 29 distinct language combinations, which confers the status of Certified Translator on your resume/CV. It can also be beneficial to get qualifications in an area in which you wish to translate. For example, being a qualified paralegal might help you land a position as a translator in the legal area.

Organizations like the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators and the International Medical Interpreters Association provide certificates to people who have previously completed professional training.

Take voluntary testing

Another option for translators to improve their resumes and show potential employers and clients that they are competent in their target language is to take language competency exams. The Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT), given by the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, is one of the most well-known exams.

Many competency exams are also available from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Several exams provided by other countries are also available online.

how to become a translator

Target a specific industry and learn the terminology

Once you've mastered a language and settled on a career path, you'll need to learn industry-specific terms. When translating for the field you wish to work in, knowing the correct vocabulary will come in handy. If you're interested in medicine, for example, you might wish to learn medical terminology to improve your translation skills.

Gain experience in the field

Getting a career as a translator, like many other occupations, necessitates relevant work experience. One method to obtain relevant experience for your resume/CV is to offer contract or freelance translation services. Volunteer work is another option for gaining experience.

Translators can volunteer in a variety of community groups and hospitals. Internships, whether paid or unpaid, are another way to obtain valuable job experience.

Common questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about working as a translator:

What's the difference between an interpreter and translator?

A widespread misunderstanding is that translators and interpreters are the same person. Despite the fact that translation and interpreting are closely connected, they are carried out by separate language specialists.

The major distinction between translators and interpreters is the type of translation they perform. Translators translate textual communication, whereas interpreters operate in real-time circumstances transcribing spoken discussions.

What are the required skills to have?

On top of language skills, the following proficiencies are important for translators. To read, comprehend, and write well in all of the languages with which they deal, successful translators must have excellent reading and writing abilities.

Translating entails more than simply knowing language; it also necessitates a grasp of the culture, therefore they must be culturally aware and sensitive. They should also be able to interact and collaborate with clients using standard business and interpersonal skills.

Here are the top skills:

What languages are in high demand?

A successful translator should understand the needs of the translation industry. Looking into which language services are going to get requested of professionals can be useful. The need for translation services is increasing all around the world. Spanish is in great demand, particularly in the United States, which shares a border with one of the world's major Spanish-speaking countries.

Mandarin is another in-demand language, particularly in international business. In addition to Spanish and Chinese, German is in great demand due to the language's complexity and Germany's expanding economy. Computer assisted translation can sometimes to be used in addition to knowing a specific language.

how to become a translator

Favorite Resources

Our favorite resources are included below.

Job interview resources

Resume and cover letter resources

Job search resources

free interview question and answer full guide

Interview Question and Answer Guide (PDF)

Get our full interview preparation guide. Complete with common interview questions and example answers. Free. No email required.

Grab the PDF
author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

Share

Help us by spreading the word