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How to Become a Translator

How to Become a Translator PhotoDo you know a second or third language you want to make good use of aside from impressing your friends? Have you dreamed of being a translator for the ambassadors in the United Nations? Or perhaps offering your services for non-English speaking contestants of the Ms. Universe Pageant? Learning a new language is truly an asset and one of the best ways to polish this skill is to become a translator.

So where does one start to become a translator?

Choose a reputable language school

Knowing another language is just not enough to become a translator. It also means having to properly translate words for use in formal or business settings. It would also be helpful to know what the top schools specializing in translation and language interpretation are.

It would also be useful to know the top target languages for translation to have an idea how many clienteles you may have in the future. Among them are:

  • French (both local to Canada and France)
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese (Brazilian)
  • Italian


To be a certified translator, one must pass a language pair depending on the institution of learning you are getting your certificate from. The New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies, or NYU-SCPS, offers Certificates in Translation for one language pair (NYU-SCPS offers 8 language pairs) or general translation. On the other hand, Certified Translation Professional, or CTP, offers 22 language pairs including Thai, Punjabi and Romanian.

Practice, practice, practice

What better way to learn the language better than to practice, practice, practice? Here are a few tips you can do to help you master the target language:

  • Hone your language skills by constantly conversing with a native speaker of your target language.
  • Read a book written in the target language, and try to translate it.
  • Watch foreign movies with the subtitles turned off. Ever wonder why some kids learn Japanese so fast? Blame anime cartoons.

Gain professional experience

This would mean landing a job where your customers will be native speakers of the target language. An example of such job would be phone support, where you will be handling calls in another language.

Some translators offer their services part time, something they do to augment their current day jobs. The United Nations employ some translators on a daily rate basis. Entry level translators receive $200 on the average, per day. Revisers receive almost 50% higher wages. Full time translators earn, on the average, earn around $70,000 annually. This would also depend on what the target language is, and how the great the need is for that language to be translated.

As you can see, once you have learned the language, it is just a matter of getting certified, after which you are on your way to becoming a professional translator.