Found in Translation: 5 Keys to Becoming a Translator

Today, there’s more than 77,000 translators and interpreters working in the U.S. It’s a growing industry that’s expected to grow by at least 20% in the next decade.

There’s a need for a translator everywhere from courtrooms and hospitals to government meetings and schools. Anywhere there’s a language barrier, a translator is vital. Plus, it’s a well-paying and flexible job.

If you have a passion for languages and communicating with people, becoming a translator might be the right path for you. Read on to learn how to become a translator and start a rewarding career today.

1. Master a Second Language

One of the most important translator requirements is mastery of a second language. You’ll need the proficiency of a native speaker in two languages.

While it’s a natural advantage to have grown up in a bilingual home, you can learn a second language through school or later in life. Focus on grammar structure, pronunciation, and the culture to pick up on nuances.

2. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The next step is to earn a bachelor’s degree in your second language or one that’s designed for those hoping to work as translators. You’ll learn translation skills as well as how to translate accurately and quickly.

A college study abroad program in a country with many speakers of your second language is also a valuable experience.

While many people working as translators have bachelor’s degrees, you may not necessarily need a formal education. After all, your translation skills are what’s most important.

But, depending on what industry you work in, you may need to do some continuing education or get a certificate.

3. Get Certified

While there isn’t a universal certification for interpreters and translators, certified translators often have an edge with employers. It gives your skills more credibility.

The American Translators Association offers certification in nearly 30 languages and you can become a Certified Translator. You can also get certified in American Sign Language, healthcare interpreting, courtroom interpreting, and much more.

4. Choose an Industry Specialization

At the same time you’re considering certification, you should decide what industry you’d like to work in. This can help narrow your search and get the right certifications.

For example, if you’re interested in becoming a translator for the government, you’ll need to pass a three-test series to be considered. If you’d like to work in healthcare, there’s also relevant certifications.

Depending on your specialization, your translator duties will vary. State department translators will need to travel, while paralegal translators work in an office setting. Some jobs even offer remote work.

5. Gain Relevant Experience

Another component is to get relevant experience. You can try freelancing, volunteer work, or internships. This will help you get real work experience while also helping you choose an industry to work in.

Aside from translating in-person conversations, you can also work with video and documents as a translator. To learn about this type of translator services, click here for more.

Is Becoming a Translator Right for You?

Becoming a translator is an exciting career choice for those who have a talent for languages. It’s a flexible career that pays well. Plus, you have the option of working in a wide range of industries, from healthcare to education.

If you’re looking for more career guidance, keep scrolling through our blog.