Translation Degree Program Information
Read about translation degree programs. Learn about education prerequisites, course topics, language requirements, career choices, salary trends and employment outlook.
Most translation degree programs are offered at the master's level, but a few colleges and universities offer bachelor's and PhD translation degrees. Learning the types of translation, plus cultural awareness and translation for specific professions are key aspects of translation training. Graduates at all program levels may find translation-related work.
Bachelor's Degree in Translation
Few postsecondary schools offer bachelor's degrees in translation studies, which prepare students for entry-level work or for further graduate study. Each program offers different languages and students can research which languages are offered at each school. Students learn various translation techniques and cultural information related to the target language.
A high school education or its equivalent is needed for admission into a college or university. Typically, completing college-level foreign language coursework is required for entry into a translation bachelor's degree program.
Students learn different types of translation techniques as well as terminology and linguistics knowledge. Some programs require students to pursue a minor to provide them with expertise in a field where they can use their translation skills. Learning about cultures of people who are native to the language is incorporated into the curriculum. Some typical classes may include:
- World civilizations
- Phonetics and diction (of foreign language)
- Translation technologies
- Commercial translation
Popular Career Choices
Translation bachelor's degrees can qualify graduates for translation jobs in various job fields such as law, hospitality and travel, publishing and healthcare. Some job prospects include:
- Tour guide
- Book translator
Master's Degree Programs
While pursing a master's degree in translation, students learn to translate the written word while learning about the cultures of the people who speak the translated languages. Students also learn about the translation needs of various professions and how to provide those skills. Master's degree programs in translation are offered at more public and private colleges, universities and institutes than undergraduate translation programs.
Undergraduate degrees are typically required for entrance into a master's degree program, but schools vary on whether the major must be relevant to translation. However, language proficiency in English and a foreign language is important and sometimes a requirement for gaining admission.
Translation master's degree students participate in classroom instruction where they study translation theory, translating for particular professions and translation techniques. They also participate in research projects and practical training. Some common classes may include:
- Translation theory
- Translation practice
- Cross-cultural communication
- Translation computer application
- Literary translation
- Technical translation
- Legal translation
- Financial translation
Employment Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), translator jobs should rise 22% during 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). This faster than average boost is credited to more non-English speakers visiting and moving to the U.S. and expanding global connections. The translators with the best job prospects are those proficient in in-demand languages such as French, Spanish and German; there's also an increasing need for translators proficient in Middle Eastern and Asian languages.
Large metropolitan areas and areas with high immigration populations are where the best job prospects are for translators. Translators with expertise in law, healthcare, localization and sign language should have the most options available. Several factors influence a translator's salary including language, education, certification and employer. The BLS reported that translators earned a mean annual income of $49,790 in May 2010.
Translators can attain voluntary certification to help validate their expertise to employers and clients. The American Translators Association (ATA) offers several certifications for translating from and into English from another language. Applicants must meet certain education and/or professional experience requirements and pass an exam to receive the certification.
Doctoral Degree in Translation
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program provides students with the opportunity to pursue research interests within the translational studies field. A few colleges and universities offer PhD translation degree programs. PhD programs prepare students for careers in research or teaching at the university level.
A master's degree in a relevant field is required for admission into some PhD programs. Other programs may evaluate applicants on their translation knowledge. Fluency in English and at least one foreign language is required.
Students receive some classroom instruction while earning a PhD in translation, but most of their schooling is spent participating in research projects. Some courses may include:
- Translation practice
- Applied linguistics
- Translation trends
- Translation history
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