Translation – Education & Training
As is the case for the majority of professions, specialized education is necessary in order to become a translator or an interpreter. Usually, a university degree is needed for this type of work, but the educational backgrounds of translators may vary. Future translators and interpreters must be fluent in at least two languages; they continue to study foreign languages and improve their writing skills during their education. Depending on the university, some students may have the opportunity to study in another country for a year. Many of them can also complete job-specific training programs. Some universities offer a co-op (work-study) program.
Some prospective translators may decide to become technical translators so they have to specialize in a particular field. In order to have a good foundation in a certain field of study such as business, computer science, engineering, finance, literature, or science, they generally take specialized courses. Some translation students major in the specialization and endeavor to gain experience and skills in the translation area. In general, translators who want to specialize in literature study languages such as Chinese, French, Italian, Russian, or Spanish because there are a lot of writings in those languages. As far as business translations are concerned, the Chinese, Arabic and Japanese languages are becoming increasingly more important in addition to traditional European languages of business. Often, technical translators have master’s degrees, and people who work in courts or the medical field usually complete job-specific training programs. In a great number of countries, translators and interpreters who want to work in the legal field may need a certification to translate. Those who want to work at the United Nations have to know at least three of the official languages, which include Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
In addition to education, many interpreters and translators grew up speaking two languages. Moreover, students have many different ways to improve their translation skills like going abroad, having direct contact with foreign cultures, or reading a lot on diverse topics in various languages.
One of the key elements that need to be considered when starting a career as a translator or an interpreter is work experience. In fact, a lot of companies or agencies require people who have a certain number of years of experience in translation or interpretation field. Experience can be acquired by doing many types of work, even if the work may be informal or unpaid. For example, many translators or interpreters start their careers as volunteers for community organizations or sporting events. Another way for interpreters and translators to gain experience is to do internships or apprenticeships – some university translation programs include an internship so experience can be gained before graduation. Once the students have enough experience, they may decide to search for full-time jobs, seek certification, or even manage or start a translation company.
The companies of the translation industry have educated employees. In companies where there is an in-house translation department, the workers have much more translation-centred training than those working in large firms. Many translation graduates choose to work in private firms while a small number of them are employees in public organizations; a large number of translators are independent professionals.