Translator

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Translators convert the written word from the ‘source language’ into the ‘target language’, making sure that the meaning is the same.

Salary range: 18,000 to £40,000

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How to become a translator

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly
  • a qualification with a professional body
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University

You’ll usually need a degree or postgraduate qualification in translation.

Relevant degrees include:

  • languages – courses which specialise in linguistics or translation may give you an advantage but are not essential
  • combined degrees which include a subject like law or science with languages

You could also do a postgraduate course like an master’s in translation or translation studies.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

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Direct application

You may be able to apply for a paid translation traineeship with the European Commission if you have a degree, and can translate 2 EU official languages into English.

Other routes

You can take a diploma in translation through the Chartered Institute of Linguists, which is a postgraduate level qualification.

The Institute of Translation and Interpreting also has details of organisations offering training in translation.

More information

Career tips

Language translation skills in demand include:

  • French
  • German
  • English
  • Russian
  • Chinese
  • Arabic
  • Spanish

Further information

You’ll find more details about becoming a translator from the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • foreign language skills
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • customer service skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to work on your own
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You must be fluent in one or more languages as well as English, and have knowledge of the culture in the relevant country, usually gained from living and working there.

You may have to pass enhanced background checks if your work is related to national security.

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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • reproducing the text clearly, accurately and in the style intended by the author
  • using specialist translation software
  • using specialist knowledge, like technical terminology
  • researching legal, technical or scientific terms and consulting with experts to make sure the translation is accurate
  • matching the culture of the target audience

Working environment

You could work in an office, from home or at a client’s business.

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Career path and progression

Many translators work freelance or through translation agencies. With experience you could start your own translation agency, or move into teaching.