Do I Need to Be a Certified Translator to Become a Professional Translator?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 50,000 employed translators in the US alone in 2008. By the year 2018, that number is anticipated to grow by over 20%. However, these numbers reflect on US individuals currently employed as translators in a traditional full or part time position. It does not account for the thousands of translators who work as freelancers or who take on translation jobs on a project by project basis. Nor does it account for the thousands of international translators. Globally, there are hundreds of thousands of translators, both professionally employed and freelance.
While certification for translator positions is not mandatory, most employers prefer not only certification, but also a college education such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree. In fact, some employers provide their own testing and certification. For example, the US Department of State and the United Nations require collegiate educations, prior work experience, as well as high performance ratings on their language specialist exams. While certification may be helpful for these positions, it is not a requirement that candidates have certification from a designated professional organization. In fact, there are no generally accepted or standard professional certifications for translators.
The certification process as well as requirements for testing, exams, higher education, or prior work experience required by employers varies widely. Different professional organizations, educational institutions, and even employers offer different types of exams and certifications for those wishing to become professional translators. In the private sector, however, few employers offer their own certification exams. Instead, these employers look for translators with a minimum first level college degree or diploma, prior work experience, and who speak at least two languages. These employers will often test candidates to ensure their knowledge and abilities are suitable prior to hiring. In such cases, additional certification can help candidates rise to the top for testing selection.
While being a certified translator is not required to pursue a career in translation, it certain helps prove a candidate’s experience and proficiency in a particular language. A certificate alone will not provide for advanced positions in large international corporations, government agencies, or other positions where competition is fierce. However, a translation certification can help a candidate gain the entry level work experience these positions require. With additional education and work experience, these higher paying, prestigious jobs are more attainable. For those wishing to freelance as translators, a certificate can help improve the odds of landing more clients.
By Adriana Tassini
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