Careers in Language Translation

A language translator can specialize in areas like legal or medical translation. Keep reading to learn about educational programs, which usually require prior bilingual fluency, as well as career opportunities and potential wages for translators. Schools offering Applied Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Translator?

In a nutshell, translators render information from one language to another. Translators my also be known as interpreters. The main difference is that translators deal with the written word, while interpreters deal with sign language or the spoken word. Specialization in an area such as medical or legal terminology is not uncommon. Translators may also specialize in literature as they adapt works from one language to another.

What are the Job Duties of a Translator?

As a translator, you'll be responsible for taking written materials and converting them into another language. For example, you might convert publications from English into French, or vice versa. This career is different than that of an interpreter, who converts spoken language as opposed to written words.

In order to work effectively as a translator, you'll need to be fluent in at least two languages. Translating involves more than simply exchanging words for their counterparts in another language; you may need to manipulate whole sentences and paragraphs so that the meaning and tone behind the words remains the same. In some cases, you'll work with slang words and colloquialisms that don't necessarily translate across cultures.

Can I Specialize in the Field?

As a translator, you may choose to concentrate in a particular field of work. For example, you may work in the judiciary system by translating legal court proceedings and documents into another language. As a medical translator, you'll be responsible for understanding medical terms in more than one language so that you might translate medical texts, reports and other written materials. You could also work as a literary translator, adapting books, short stories and poetry into other languages.

What Educational Programs Are Available?

No one educational path is designed to prepare you for work as a professional translator. You might be ideal for the field if you grew up speaking two languages in your household. If you don't have any second language training, you could pursue a bachelor's degree in a foreign language, such as Spanish or Russian.

Some schools offer bachelor's programs in translation studies. Such programs will teach you about the phonetics, diction, grammar and composition found in a particular foreign language. You could take additional courses in business translation, technical writing or translation techniques.

Certificate programs in translation studies are more common than degree programs. Certificate programs are focused on teaching you the specific vocational skills needed to translate business, legal or medical texts from one language into another. These programs are offered through community colleges, universities and vocational schools; you'll usually focus on a particular language conversion, like Russian into English or English into Spanish. You'll need to be fluent in a second language in order to enroll in most certificate programs.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), interpreters and translators as a group held 49,650 positions in the United States in 2015. Most interpreters and translators worked for professional organizations, schools and hospitals. In 2015, the median annual salary for interpreters and translators was $44,190, as reported by the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers

Court reporters are responsible for creating a verbatim transcription of court proceedings. Gestures and actions may also be noted. They may also render real-time translations for the hearing impaired or closed-captioning for televised proceedings. In addition to court time, reporters are present at depositions and other events that call for accurate transcriptions. They may employ specialized recording machinery to ensure accuracy.

Another career that deals with the accurate and clear dissemination of information is that of technical writer. These are the individuals responsible for writing how-to articles, instruction manuals and the like, in order to render what might be complex information in an easier-to-understand form. They consult with product designers and manufacturers to ascertain the purpose of the product and any possible modifications that might make that product more user-friendly and easier to explain.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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