How Do I Become a Portuguese Translator?

Research what it takes to become a Portuguese translator. Learn about job duties, education requirements, job outlook and salary potential to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Applied Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Portuguese Translator?

Portuguese translators provide services for the government, social services or educational groups to convert written words to or from the Portuguese language. They may work in schools, in court, or in any number of government service buildings. Depending on the nature of their translation services, translators may need to have a certain degree of administrative knowledge in order to help their clients fill in forms and access services. Translation work that does not require an in-person translator is mostly done online, with translators submitting and receiving documents electronically. Some translators may work in hospitals and other medical settings, requiring them to have an understanding of common medical terms and basic medical ethics.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree preferred
Training Required Formal translation training typically required
Education Field of Study Portuguese, English, linguistics
Key Responsibilities Convert reports and other documents from one language to another; make sure translated words are as readable as original; recognize slang terms, euphemisms and words or phrases
Job Growth (2014-2024) 29% (for all translators and interpreters)*
Median Salary (2015) $44,190 (for all translators and interpreters)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need To Be a Portuguese Translator?

The most important requirement for becoming a Portuguese translator is fluency in both Portuguese and English. It may also help to have grown up in a bilingual household, which could help your natural fluency and cultural familiarity with the language. Many employers also prefer applicants who have completed a bachelor's degree, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It may be useful to have studied a related field in college, such as Portuguese, English or linguistics. Some universities offer certificates specifically in Portuguese-English translation.

Formal translation training is typically required. This is particularly true of jobs in the government. For some types of work, translators must also be knowledgeable about the subject matter of the translated material.

What Does a Translator Do?

Translators work with reports and other documents, converting them from one language to another. Translators are different from interpreters; they convert written language while interpreters convert spoken language. Some people work as both interpreters and translators.

Because concepts and cultural conventions can differ between languages, translation can be complex and involves more than word substitution. Translators make sure that the translated version is as readable as the original, with good sentence flow. They must be able to recognize slang terms, euphemisms and words or phrases that mean something different than a literal translation would imply. (For example, a 'restroom' is not for taking naps!) This cultural awareness allows the translator to produce a document that is true to the original's content.

What Is the Work Environment Like?

Many translators specialize in a particular area in order to gain an in-depth familiarity with its jargon and concepts. Translators may work in government, business, social services, education or entertainment. They may work in offices or at remote locations if needed; however, because most of the work is done on a computer, many translators work in home-based offices, according to the BLS.

Is the Job Outlook Good?

The BLS predicted that the employment rate for translators will increase 29% between 2014 and 2024, which was much faster than average compared to all occupations (www.bls.gov). Growth will be impacted by the broadening of international relationships that will boost a need for translators to aid in communication. Demand will be especially strong for frequently translated languages like Portuguese. Job prospects will be highest in major cities, especially Washington, D.C, New York and Los Angeles.

According to the most recent data available from the University of Connecticut Career Services Office (www.career.uconn.edu), the job prospects for those working specifically in Spanish and Portuguese are good, citing increased demand for fluent speakers in industries such as tourism, teaching and commerce. Jobs you could pursue that might involve translation include the following:

  • ESL teacher (English as a Second Language)
  • Textbook editor
  • Publisher
  • Public relations specialist
  • Linguist

How Much Do Translators Make Per Year?

As of May 2015, translators and interpreters earned a median annual salary of $44,190. The highest-paid workers earned $78,520 or more, while the lowest-paid made $23,160 or less. Adult instruction teachers, including those who teach English to speakers of other languages, earned a 2015 median salary of $50,280, with the range stretching below $28,870 to above $83,140. These salary statistics were reported by the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you have earned a bachelor's degree in a language such as Portuguese, you may also want to consider becoming a high school teacher and passing on that knowledge to the next generation. If you have strong communicative skills, you may also want to consider becoming a technical writer and creating content for manuals, journal articles and other pieces of literature that require specialized knowledge in a particular area. For example, medical and legal technical writers need to have a strong understanding of typical legal and medical terms in order to effectively produce technical copy.

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