Academic Education for Translators

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There are many ways to obtain a translator education, which is why we’ve broken them down for you in this research article.

University Education

Accredited translation colleges and universities provide many choices to the potential translator. Several offer undergraduate, four-year bachelor’s degree translation programs that make available to students comprehensive courses on grammar and syntax and emphasize a strong foundation in translation theory. Degree programs will also expose you to different dialects, cultures, and literature— strengthening comprehension abilities and expanding your areas of knowledge. Additionally, study abroad programs are often required in foreign language degree programs. Time abroad is one of the very best ways to reinforce your command of the language and understanding of culture, both of which are appealing to clients and beneficial to your language skills and specialty areas. Business practices and ethics reviewed in detail in four-year courses are a good addition to portfolios and also assist the potential translator when entering into the world of business translation.

Two or Four-Year Degrees

Some colleges and universities offer a one to two-year undergraduate Certificate in Translation in place of a bachelor’s degree. These certificates sometimes include interpretation, though not always, and may cover much of the same material that a four-year program covers; however, not in as much detail. Such programs are often tailored to those business professionals who already have some college education and wish to expand their skills or are required to study translation by employers due to market demands. It is common to see entire semesters dedicated to one specialized field, such as medical, legal or technological translation, so they are also great tools when expanding areas of specialization.  There is not one program that is necessarily better than another. Your choice should depend upon your level of fluency in your target and source languages, as well as your intentions after receiving your education. Note that holding a Certificate in Translation is not the same as a Translator Certification.

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Education Next Step

Once an undergraduate degree or certificate has been received, you may decide that you would like to pursue a graduate certificate or master’s degree. Graduate programs in the translation are not offered as frequently as undergraduate programs. However, many graduate programs offer a major in a foreign language with an emphasis in translation. A graduate program will provide rigorous training in whatever field you wish to pursue.  Therefore, you will want to find the program that best suits your needs as a professional translator. While getting a graduate certificate is beneficial to your translation skills and may be enticing to possible clients, it is not necessary to be successful as a translator.

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