What College Degree Should I Earn for a Language Translation Career?

If you want to start your career in language translation, you often need to earn a bachelor's degree, though you have many choices when it comes to choosing a major. Continue reading for more details about how to prepare to become a translator and what the career outlook is like. Schools offering Applied Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Language Translation Education Requirements

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that fluency in English and a foreign language is the most important requirement for a translator, though many employers require a bachelor's degree. However, this degree does not need to be related to languages or translation; you may choose to major in a particular field, like business or biology. In some technical translation industries, like finance or engineering, a master's degree may be necessary.

Translators typically do need some sort of professional training to learn techniques for keeping the original meaning in the translated piece, considering slang, cultural terms and popular expressions. Translators often utilize specialized software programs, which can be learned through a training program.

Important Facts About Language Translation Education

Common Courses Translation topics, translation theory,
Degree/Certificate Levels Master's degree and professional certificate available
Online Availability Fully available for master's degree
Continuing Education Licensure and certification is available for a variety of translators in different industries, ranging from law to medicine

Foreign Language or Translation

Aspiring translators may major in the particular language for which they plan on translating. Some schools also offer education specifically in language translation and interpretation. Translation bachelor's degree programs are available in languages like Spanish, French, German and Russian, though Spanish translation programs are most commonly offered. Examples of courses include written translation, sight translation, literary analysis and contrastive analysis; programs focused on Spanish translation may also have classes in Spanish linguistics and Latin American cultures.

Field-Specific

What you choose to study in college gives you expertise in an area that you can use to leverage your language translation skills. For example, a degree in education might prepare you to work with children, or a degree in chemistry could give you the context needed to translate in a laboratory setting. A couple of the most common areas of translation in the U.S. are legal and medical, so prospective translators may consider earning a relevant degree in one of these fields.

Career Information

Translators may work in a variety of settings. They may be self-employed and perform all work duties at home, or they may be employed with hospitals, courtrooms, schools or publishing companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a much faster than average job growth of 29% that would add about 17,500 translating and interpreting jobs is expected in the 2014-2024 decade, and individuals who hold at least a bachelor's degree and professional certification should have an advantage in the job market. Also listed by the BLS, the 2014 median salary for translators and interpreters was $43,590.

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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  • Maryville University

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      • Masters - English
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  • Grand Canyon University

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