How to become a Translator

Translators convert written documents from one language to another while maintaining the precise meaning of the original text.

Personal requirements of a Translator

  • Excellent command of written English
  • Fluency or ability to learn at least one other language
  • Understanding of different cultures
  • Able to work accurately and objectively
  • Initiative and research skills
  • Able to maintain confidentiality
  • Broad general knowledge

Education & Training for a Translator

To become a translator you require fluent written language skills in English and fluent reading comprehension of at least one other language. You will also need to complete a VET or university qualification in translating. A number of institutions in Australia offer language courses or language majors. These courses can help you become qualified by developing the language skills needed to meet the entry requirements for a further course of study in translating. Entry to VET qualifications or degree courses usually requires you to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Most institutions in Australia offer language courses or language majors. Institutions have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Translator

Translators may perform the following tasks:

  • study original texts and transcripts of recorded spoken material to understand the subject matter
  • translate the meaning and feeling of written material in the appropriate register and style
  • translate a wide range of written material, including business letters, application forms, legal texts, novels and detailed scientific articles
  • make sure that phraseology and terminology in legal, technical and scientific texts are accurately translated
  • supply subtitles for films and television programs
  • revise translations done by others.

Employment Opportunities for a Translator

Translators are employed, usually on a freelance basis, by federal, state and territory government departments concerned with immigration, defence, legal issues and law enforcement, social security and education. Organisations such as hospitals, banks, tourist agencies and private interpreting and translating firms may also employ translators on a contract or freelance basis. Permanent employment opportunities are limited, but are most likely found in law, finance and defence. Most translators in Australia are self-employed or work as freelancers, casuals or contractors. The most successful translators in Australia work for international clients using modern technology to service clients and collaborate with colleagues on projects.

Additional Information
After completing an appropriate qualification or gaining significant experience you may be able to gain accreditation through the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). The NAATI levels of accreditation range from Paraprofessional Translator and Professional Translator to Advanced Translator and Advanced Translator (Senior). Both Advanced Translator accreditations require the high levels of proficiency needed for legal and academic texts. The minimum level of accreditation that NAATI recommends for professional work in Australia is the Professional Translator level. Graduates of courses approved by NAATI may apply for accreditation without further testing. Translators need to have a sound knowledge of a wide range of subjects in order to understand the complex issues they may encounter during translating assignments.
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