How Can I Become a Certified Translator in Less Time? Schools, Licenses, Salary & Cost

You probably have read or heard somewhere that being a certified translator is more rewarding than regular linguistics and you are already considering how to become a certified translator.

In this article, you will learn in full who a certified translator is and how you can have a successful career as one in a very short time.

Certified translators are experts who have been trained to translate written and spoken information from one language to another. They can translate any language at all, depending on the depth of their training anyway.

Certified translators work in various areas, ranging from legal to security, health, media, and educational organizations. Pursuing a career as a certified translator is very lucrative and you can land huge career opportunities when you have learned from the best.

Learn how to become a certified translator in this article and also see the best schools that offer certified translator programs.

Who Is a Certified Translator?

As has been said earlier, a certified translator is an expert who has been trained to translate written and spoken information from one language to another. They can translate any language at all, depending on the depth of their training.

Before now, anyone who wished to pursue a career as a certified translator must hold a bachelor’s degree. A specific area of study is not always needed; however, some translators choose programs in language translation or a related field.

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What Does a Certified Translator Do?

As a certified translator, you will be working with local or international organizations to translate and interpret written documents and spoken words from one language to another.

A professional translator must be able to understand, assimilate and reproduce the information and meaning of the translation and do it all naturally.

To become a translator, it is important you know at least two languages. Usually, it takes years of practice to master two to four languages and become a professional translator.

What Are The Requirements to be a Certified Translator?

To be eligible to become a certified translator by the ATA you would need a combination of education, experience, and assessed proficiency. Usually, candidates must meet one of the following criteria to be eligible:

  • Candidate has to be currently certified by the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs.
  • The candidate has to hold a bachelor’s degree from an approved translation and interpretation institute which is on the approved list of the ATA Education and Pedagogy Committee.
  • The candidate has to hold a bachelor’s degree and two years of proven work experience as a translator.
  • Candidate has to have at least five years of proven work experience as a translator.

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Which Schools Offer Programs For Certified language Interpreters?

Here is a list of the best translation and interpreting programs around the country. Most of them take between one and two years to complete and are geared towards people who are yet to start off the career and already working professionals.

  • American University
  • Bellevue College
  • Georgia State University
  • Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Montclair State University
  • University of Louisville
  • University of Maryland
  • University of North Carolina – Charlotte
  • Rutgers University
  • San Diego State University
  • Wake Forest University

#1. American University

American University offers translation certificates in Spanish, Russian, and French. These programs emphasize translation into English and can be done at a fairly leisurely pace.

The certificates require the completion of at least six credits a year (two classes), and the completion of all fifteen credits (five classes) within a four-year period.

Though the programs are not specialized, each one works out to have its own particular flavor.

Spanish offers surveys of Latin American art and culture and US cultural and political relations with Latin America.

French offers classes focusing on literary translation and business translation (intended to prepare students for the Certificat Pratique examination). And Russian focuses on contemporary political culture and business translation.

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#2. Bellevue College

Bellevue’s programs in translation and interpreting cover general theory and practical skills for people looking to begin their careers in either of these industries.

A couple of things that are unique to Bellevue’s programs are that they include classes on using translation and interpreting technology, including Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) tools, and basic website building for people who are looking to set up their own businesses.

To this end, they also cover current industry business practices, including how to create and negotiate contracts and prerequisites for starting a business in terms of licenses, equipment, and fees.

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#3. George State University

The translation program at Georgia State University is offered for German, French, and Spanish, and consists of one class in comparative stylistics, one class in general translation, two classes in specialized translation, and a final translation workshop.

The interpreting program specializes in medical and court interpreting in Spanish only.

One interesting aspect of this program is that participating students who hold a bachelor’s degree are eligible to take undergraduate courses in the university during the time they are enrolled in the certificate program.

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IUPUI is a large public research university that offers graduate certificates in French, Spanish, and German.

The certificate program begins with two introductory courses on the history and theory of translation. Then a specialized sequence courses that look at six different kinds of translation: business, legal, governmental, technical, scientific, and medical.

The certificate culminates in an internship personalized to the student’s area of interest, followed by a final translation project.

Notably, IUPUI has a more rigorous application process than many other certificate programs and is one of few universities that require applicants to hold a BA in their second language, a BA in English, or a BA or BS in a subject related to their intended field of translation.

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#5. Montclair University

Montclair University offers twelve credit Translation and Interpreting in Spanish Certificate at the graduate level.

The course’s emphasis is on medical and legal domains, and it consists of four classes: Translation and Health, Translation and the Law, Simultaneous Interpretation, and Consecutive Interpretation.

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Other Professional Translator Schools

You can take a quick flight to the schools using the given links.

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How To Be a Professional Translator: The Full Guide

Here below is a comprehensive guide aimed to help guide you to having a great time in your professional translator career. Carefully read through.

Earn a Bachelors Degree

The least entry-level qualification for a career as a certified language interpreter is a bachelor’s degree.

There is no particular major to the degree. You can earn a degree in the language of your choice. Students can find many abroad opportunities to enable them to study in the countries they want to learn their language.

Getting fully involved in a foreign culture can help students refine their reading, writing, and conversation skills in that language.

Moreso, students may be able to find community language associations that are devoted to the study of language and culture. It will help them improve in that language.

See also: 20 Profitable Benefits of Learning A Second Language

Obtain Certification

American Translators Association (ATA) is one of the most recognized and apparently the most influential certification accreditation bodies in the United States.

This organization provides certification in 24 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, German, Japanese and Spanish. Translators must have required experience, education or a combination of the two to be eligible to take the certification examination.

The ATA translation certification exam requires participants to translate two written passages and is usually a newspaper article or a piece of nonfiction writing.

Test participants have the option of translating a scientific document or financial report or business contract. Test participants are graded according to grammar and word choice, and overall translation quality.

Usually, the ATA certification exam is a difficult exam with a failure rate of approximately 80 percent. Translators can prepare for this challenging test by taking practice tests, which are available from the ATA website(

Build Professional Experience

You will have to consciously build your professional knowledge and experience. This is because a lot of employers who would be requesting your services usually lookout for people who already have experience in the field. You can find these experiences through volunteer work.

Organizations like the Red Cross, non-government organizations, hospitals, and international sporting events offer excellent volunteer opportunities for aspiring translators, who may also seek internships and mentorship opportunities to build experience.

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What qualifications do you need to be a translator?

For a start, you will need a degree or postgraduate qualification in translation. Relevant degrees include: languages – courses which specialise in linguistics or translation may give you an advantage but are not essential.

How long does it take to become a translator?

The ATA requires that applicants hold a bachelor’s degree in translation and interpretation from an accredited institution and that they have a minimum of five years of work experience. The process of becoming certified may take only as long as completing an online test and waiting for the credential

Do translators get paid well?

Interpreters and Translators made an average salary of $49,110 in 2021. The best-paid 25% made $75,940 that year, while the lowest-paid 25% made $38,230.


As mentioned earlier, a career as a professional translator is a lucrative one. Now, once you’ve completed your education, the next thing is to find that professional translation job.

To find a translation job start hitting up your network of friends, college career centres, and search online.

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