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  • Writer's pictureNicole Meneghini

How to become a translator?

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

Have you always been passionate about foreign languages and dreamed of working as a translator?

But how do you become a translator?

I would first like to point out that the vision of the translator with a cup of tea in front of the window is a bit dated and does not represent reality. This profession is a mine of possibilities, but it takes lots of time, patience, and continuous study to keep up with the latest innovations.

So, let's see the main steps to start working as a translator.

A translator working on a translation project

Proficiency in languages

The first step in pursuing a career in translation is to develop proficiency in at least one foreign language. Ideally, you should have an innate knowledge of your mother tongue and be proficient in a foreign language with at least a C1 level. You can acquire these language skills through language courses, attending training courses or universities, or immersing yourself in your foreign language-speaking country.


Once you have achieved a high level of language proficiency, it is essential to specialize in specific fields. Translation encompasses several industries: legal, medical, technical, literary, financial, website localization, and many more. Choose one or more of these fields based on your interests, passions, and market demands and develop a thorough understanding of the specific vocabulary and language conventions associated with them.


You can join training courses (online or in-person) or consider university translation programs to acquire specific translation skills.

These courses usually cover a wide range of topics, including translation theory, translation techniques, localization, translation project management, and how to use computer-aided translation tools (CAT tools). This training will be essential for obtaining a thorough understanding of the profession and acquiring practical skills for a successful career.

So, do you have to go to university to work as a translator?

No, it is not an essential requirement. Job openings often require either a degree in translation or a minimum of years of experience in the field.

The importance of practice

After acquiring language, technical, and marketing skills, it is time for some practice. Practice is the key to developing skills as a translator. Start practicing by translating different kinds of texts, even if you do not yet have paying clients. You can translate newspaper articles, blogs, news, or even offer yourself for nonprofit organizations that require translation services. Start building a portfolio of translated projects to demonstrate your skills to potential clients or employers.

Language certifications

You may wonder if language certifications are essential to work as a translator, and the answer is no. The most important thing is to have at least C1 proficiency in the source language and native proficiency in the target language. A language certification is a significant advantage in proving your expertise and reliability as a professional in the field, but agencies rarely require it.

Often, university tracks offer the opportunity to take the language certifications during study directly, or you can contact private language centers according to the language of interest for which you would like to obtain the certification.

It takes a lot of time, many skills, and a lot of dedication to become a translator. At first, it may seem challenging, especially when looking for clients, but with time and consistency, you will begin to see the results.

The important thing is not to get discouraged and keep following your dreams.

Want to become a translator and do not know where to start? Join Translation Academy to learn Translation Techniques and Strategies used by professionals in the field.

Contact me to learn more!

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