Working as a professional translator is a complex and demanding process. Certainly, as in many other professional branches, expanding and updating their knowledge is a must. In that respect, getting a graduate or a post-graduate degree is in many ways a prerequisite. But what about additional and specialist knowledge? That is where translation courses come to the forefront.

As Study Portals point out, translation and interpreting involve converting the meaning of written or spoken content from one language to another. “Professionals in the field have advanced knowledge of the languages (…). But, they also need to understand properly the subject matter of the translation.”They also note that “universities usually offer study programs focusing on one central language paired with English.” This is the case when English is the native language.

Such university studies offer various specializations from literary translation to translation for international business. Graduating with one of these degrees offer future translators roles not only as translators. But, also as “editors and proof-writers, language analysts. Also, as translators and interpreters in specific fields such as business, law, medicine or public services.”

But, acquiring general professional knowledge and even knowledge in a specialized field for translators might not suffice. Language is one of the elements of human life that is constantly changing, and professional translators, in particular, have to stay in touch. At the same time, they have to stay in constant touch with their specialized field or fields. That is why they have to be on a constant lookout and, when necessary, take additional translation courses.

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Translation certification courses

Taking a translation certification course is one possible way to expand and update the knowledge of a professional translator. notes that, in general, “a translation certificate program can provide the skills you’ll need in work-related settings where people do not speak the same language.”

Translation Courses for language translation

As explains, “certificate programs in translation vary according to a student’s area of specialization and foreign language fluency. Translation certifications may usually be obtained after passing a proficiency exam.”

They add that “classes in a translation certificate program depend on a student’s emphasis area in translation, which is based upon their knowledge and expertise of at least two languages. Some possible courses include:

  • Advanced translation seminar
  • Translation and computer technology
  • Fundamentals of translation
  • Court interpretation
  • Publishing and editing
  • Information technology and writing

On a university/college level, certificate programs in translation “are often non-credit programs. Graduates of these programs can apply for credentials from professional translators associations. Credentialing generally calls for meeting education requirements and passing a competency exam.”

In a separate discussion, explains that “specialty certificates in translation usually focus on one language pair.” For example, this pair could be Spanish and English or Arabic and English. A general translation option is also available in some cases. “This certificate requires the completion of at least six courses. Students learn sight translation techniques, terminology and computer translation programs.”

Quite a number of certificate translation courses can be taken online, and there is a number of them that are free. But as the same site notes, in many cases, “when it comes to these types of courses and classes, you get what you pay for.” Still, very often these are hybrid courses that combine classroom and online study and, of course, traditional classroom study is also available.

What are the possible translation courses for professionals?

Introductory translation as (above) calls it might be a bit of a misnomer. These courses are language-specific and are mostly designed to explain “the process of translation and available sources.” But, at the same time, translation is a professional field that is constantly evolving. Translators can use such ‘introductory’ courses as refreshers to inform the professionals about current developments in their field(s).

Courses in the development and use of translation tools could possibly be the most sought after translation courses at the moment. Currently, even if the core work of any translator is his direct contact with the documents he works on, he needs to constantly use specialized translation tools. This is particularly the case with the use of various terminology databases and specialized translation software like Trados.

As explains, “students explore how1 computer-assisted translation has affected the industry as they learn to use translation tools and create lists of commonly used terminology.

Another possibility is courses in sight translation. The general public is often aware of the distinction between written translation and interpreting. Sight translation, as National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC), points out is” the oral rendition of text written in one language into another language and is usually done at the moment. Central to sight translation are the following skills: the ability to comprehend written text in one language (reading skills) and the ability to produce an oral or signed rendition in another language (speaking or speech production skills).”

While interpreters mostly work with this form of translation, translators of written documents can also find themselves in a situation when they need to do a sight translation.

Courses in specialized translation

Specialized translation is a term and concept used in the translation business and in translation schools. A text to be translated is specialized if translating it calls for knowledge in some field that would not normally be part of a translator’s or translation student’s general knowledge. As might be expected, translators with knowledge in specialized fields like law and medicine can command higher prices.

It is not uncommon for a doctor or a lawyer with a commanding knowledge of two or more languages to work as a specialized translator. Still, through specialized courses, professional translators can acquire knowledge in certain fields that will make it possible for them to work as specialized translators. As noted (above) “the level of understanding required to translate specialized texts is considerably less than the level possessed by practitioners of the field in question.” Taking an adequate course in a specialized field will definitely be beneficial. It can substitute or lessen the need to consult professional practitioners of that field, “when their knowledge falls short.”

Translation Courses for language localization

Such courses may or may not be strictly connected with translation. But, they can certainly keep professional translators at speed with the current developments and terminology in their specialization field(s).

“Translation schools usually have courses designed to teach students how to acquire specialized concepts and related terms. The students apply what they have learned by translating specialized texts, typically in a single field, or sometimes a couple of fields, with which the instructor is familiar. Such courses may focus on concepts and terms, or they may also cover field-specific and genre-specific writing styles.”

Translation courses and translator certification

Some countries have universal certification and to acquire it, professional translators must pass specific courses and tests. As (above) points out, there is no universal certification for translators in the United States.

The American Translators Association (ATA) offers certification for members who pass an exam. Individuals must also provide documentation of their education and qualifications prior to registration for the exam. ATA-certified translators must complete 20 hours of continuing education over a 3-year period to maintain active certification.

Some professional translators might not see the need for attending additional translation courses or acquiring translator certification. Still, these can often be essential in their work. Most importantly, these will certainly make their paycheck grow. In that respect, cites the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: the median pay for translators in 2018 was $49,930. At the same time, the job outlook for translators (and interpreters) in the period 2016-2026 is 18%.

This is where translation courses can come into perspective for some professional translators. Fitting into that prospective growth figure might only be attainable through expanding and updating your translation and specialized knowledge.