There are obviously numerous different paths that can be followed in order to become a fully qualified translator or interpreter. No one definitive route exists that is considered the standalone, perfect way to forge a career for yourself in the industry. In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of working for a translation agency is that I get to meet linguists from all sorts of different backgrounds besides the obvious cultural ones. Many have always operated as freelancers, while others have had careers as translators in the private or public sector or have worked more directly in their specialised field. Some have little more than a bachelor’s degree to their name; others have more qualifications than you can shake a stick at!
One experience that countless translators I come across have benefitted from and speak highly of is completing a master’s degree. Again, master’s graduates I have the pleasure of meeting have done their degree at different stages in their career. Going straight from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s is a common route for translators who know exactly what they want and have the means to do so, although there are plenty who have gone back into studying and working towards a master’s after having considerable experience as a translator.
From gauging the opinion of those at Quick Lingo who have chosen to further their careers with translation-related master’s degrees, I can tell you more about options available from five of the UK’s best universities:
Bath University – Interpreting and Translating
A varied and flexible course that caters to linguists specialising in many languages (major European languages plus Chinese and Japanese) and disciplines. A core program of professional translation and simultaneous, conference and Public Service Interpreting can be expanded upon in the second year to suit the student’s taste.
City University – Legal Translation
From what I’m aware, this is the only master’s degree in the UK that specialises in Legal Translation. All the key principles are covered, with each module focusing on a different area of law. There is even a useful module towards the end of course titled ‘The translation professional’ that deals with more practical essentials like using CAT tools and establishing a freelance translation business.
Exeter University – Translation
The three pathways on offer – literary translation, professional and specialist translation and research in translation –revolve around translation methodology and general skills. Students have been especially appreciative of the guest lecture series from various established translation professionals.
Newcastle University – Translation Studies
Those looking to meet the increasing demand for Mandarin translators will benefit immensely from this course. English and Mandarin are the two working languages used, and modules examine elements as diverse as history of translation, psycholinguistics of translation and interpreting, translation products, and translation and culture.
Bristol University – Translation
Ideal for foreign students, as the degree is taught entirely online. Students learn the fundamentals of theory and practice of translations and apply them to training centred on any of the one or two languages they can study in addition to English – Czech, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.