How important is a translation degree to get a translation job ?
One of the most repeated questions I get is whether you need a translation degree to work as a translator or not. There are various courses and degrees in the field of language and if you search more thoroughly then you can find a number of universities offering a translation degree. Then again the question remains ; How important is a translation degree ? Is it compulsory to have one if you are looking to work as a translator?
Translation degree is not that important but …
The answer to this question will be a simple “No”. You do not compulsorily need a degree in translation to work as a professional translator. But there is another side to this. First of all, in order to work as a translator, you need to be proficient in two or more languages. So if you have good knowledge regarding the language especially your native language then you can work as a translator. But a translation degree becomes vital in case you are looking to work in a specialized field. For example: If someone is looking to work as a legal translator or a medical translator then only having native language skills will not be enough. That is where the degree is of most value as it is going to teach you about the terminologies and the necessary skill set required to work as a specialized translator.
While starting out as a translator, clients often look at what you have on your resume. A translation degree surely would look good for a translator who have not done any previous work or had good amount of experience in the field. But if you have published some university papers, journals or books then you have proven your worth as a translator.
Advantages of Having a Degree
As mentioned earlier, having a translation degree is a plus point. However, there are some key advantages of having a degree in translation which can help you given an edge over your competitors. Firstly, it will help you improve your communicative competence especially in aspects such as specific grammatical, discursive and transfer skills. Also there will be vast knowledge to gain in the technical side such as professional training in the use of CAT ( Computer Assisted Translation) tools.
Moreover, during the study you can take guidance from a mentor and learn from the more experienced translators. Students of the translation degree program can also benefit from the work placement module which will be an excellent opportunity for starting out translators to grow their skills and gain experience in the field. Additionally, having a degree in the relative field will add to your credibility as clients will feel much comfortable working with someone who has a higher educational status in the field.
When to get a degree in translation then?
For someone who doesn’t have a translation degree, he/she needs to make up for the lost opportunity by reading a lot and proactive learning. While having a translation degree saves you this effort, there is also a downside to it. It will cost you money and time; both which perhaps you can utilize more in the actual translation work.
In my personal opinion, your need for a translation degree comes down to how you want to approach the translation industry. If you have good knowledge of your language pair, the completion in the language pair is less and you are confident about your skills to work as a translator then you can proceed without a degree. If you think your knowledge in not sufficient , the competition is really strong and you need some additional guidance to succeed as a translator, then you can go for the translation degree.