The Top Translation Certification Courses Translators Should Take

July 22, 2020
The Top Translation Certification Courses Translators Should Take

Are you a translator looking to improve your skills and employability? If so, then a translator certification course could well be the right choice for you. Translation services are necessary to facilitate global communication. They are especially in demand around the world right now, with countries working together closely not just to combat COVID-19 but also to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on their economies.

Would you like to take advantage of the current level of demand by using a translator certification course to boost your income? The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a much faster than average job outlook of 19% for interpreters and translators between 2018 and 2028, while the median pay for 2019 stood at $51,830 per year. 

Perhaps you’re looking for a complete change of career, rather than simply a bit of extra income. If you speak two languages fluently and enjoying working with words, then translation can make an excellent career choice. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the best translation certification courses available, from online certification options to translation degree options. Let’s get started! 


Online Translation Certification Courses

Translator certification courses are not the only route to a career in translation. Indeed, you can work your entire career as a translator (or interpreter) without ever obtaining certification. However, if you want to provide certain types of translation, for example legal translation in the US, then you will need to become certified. 

Certification tends to fall into two categories. Generalized certification usually means completing a longer course of study, that covers everything from foundation classes on translation and interpretation theory through to lectures and practical explorations of language-related tech. 

Specialized translation certification, meanwhile, homes in on a particular area of work, such as legal or medical translation. These certifications tend to be faster to complete but require more specialized knowledge than generalized translation certification courses.

You can click the link below to explore the reasons why certification makes sense in further detail. Suffice it to say here that completing a translator certification course is a way to formally prove your skills. Or, as the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators more eloquently puts it, 

“Certification means that an interpreter or translator has been tested by a government or professional institution with certifying authority, using a statistically valid, professionally designed exam.” 

Let’s look at what some of those exams entail and how you can access them.

Read more: How to Become a Certified Translator 


American Translators Association Certification

If you’re looking for the gold standard in translator certification courses, then the American Translators Association (ATA) is probably the way forward. It is a, “mid-career credential for experienced, professional translators or interpreters,” according to the ATA. 

The three-hour exam is known for being tough, with a pass rate of less than 20%. This is a prestigious standard for those with the abilities to achieve it and can do wonders for a translator’s CV. 

On the down side, the ATA offering focuses on the examination element only, albeit with a few practice exams thrown into the mix. If it’s a course of study with a curriculum and set learning activities that you’re after, then one of the options below will likely prove a better choice. 

Not in the mood for a long read? Don't worry, we made a short video of this article for you.


University of Arizona Online Translation Certificate

Do you have a couple of years to commit to studying while not working? No? We thought not. In that case, this course may well appeal. The three-course sequence has been designed for learners who might struggle to access fulltime, traditional university courses. 

Delivered through the University of Arizona’s National Center for Interpretation, the Online Translation Certificate covers translation between English and Spanish. The three elements of the curriculum cover online business translation, online legal translation and online medical translation. This combination means that the course is ideal for those looking for a generalized translation course as well as a more specialized one! 


UMass Online Certificate in Professional Translation and Interpreting

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Online Certificate in Professional Translation and Interpreting is an excellent choice for students who are proficient in English and one other language. The syllabus has been designed around the growing demand for translation and interpretation services in business settings, diplomatic settings, national and local government circles, the education sector and legal and healthcare settings. 

The one-year, 15-credit certificate allows students to work at their own pace, with course completion achievable within one year. Different elements of the course can also be completed individually, if required. 

UMass uses advanced online learning techniques to deliver the classes, alongside a multilingual, multicultural online classroom that provides an excellent resource for students looking to expand their cultural knowledge as well as their linguistic skills. 


Bellevue College Translation and Interpretation Certificate Program

This comprehensive translator certification course includes everything from terminology and technology to ethics and business practices, spread over 240 course hours. It is open to those who are proficient in English and at least one other language, whether they’re working fulltime as a translator or interpreter already or just at the outset of their language-related career. 

The Bellevue College course has been designed to deliver, “comprehensive and practical interpreter and translator training for speakers of any language.” The emphasis is on practical, real-world guidance, with students required to complete five core courses and three language-specific courses.  


ALTA Medical Interpreter Training Online

An excellent example of a specialized certified translator course, ALTA’s offering is ideal for those with limited study time. Its Medical Interpreter Training Online can be completed in under four months, with 16 weeks of course material access provided as part of the curriculum. 

The course is available for speakers of 42 languages and includes a range of learning materials and formats, from a digital coursebook and bilingual glossary to live and recorded video chat sessions with a teacher. For those who want it or feel they need it, optional private coaching is also available. 

This course focuses specifically on medical interpretation. You can discover more about the benefits of becoming a certified medical interpreter by clicking the link below. There are also courses available to serve a wide range of other interpretation and translation niches, so if you want to focus your skills on a particular area of work, be sure to seek out the course that best meets your needs. 

Read more: How to Become a Certified Medical Interpreter


Certified Translation Degree Programs

Professional improvement through translator certification courses isn’t only available online. Far from it! Universities across the world offer translation and interpretation courses, either as standalone qualifications or as modules that form part of a broader language-related syllabus. 

We’ve taken a look at a few courses here that particularly stand out but do be sure to investigate the local options that are available to you as well. Bear in mind that many degree courses offer out-of-hours classes, so working fulltime need not be a barrier to you obtaining academic certification. 


Rutgers University Certificate in Translation and Interpreting

Designed largely around the English-Spanish language pairing, this Certificate in Translation and Interpreting and the associated MA program are focused on supporting students into employment as translators, medical interpreters and court interpreters. 

Like many of the university-based translation certification courses we’ve included in this article, it encompasses online as well as in-person learning. 


American University Translation Certification Courses

If you speak Russian, French or Spanish fluently, as well as English, then the American University has plenty to offer. Its translation certification courses factor in cultural studies as well as linguistic ones, from French literature to Russian politics. 

Students must complete five classes within four years, so have plenty of time to work at their own pace. 


University of Louisville Graduate Certificate in Translation and Interpreting

Are you looking for an English-Spanish graduate program that focuses on cultural understanding as well as practical translation and interpreting skills? If so, this could be the translator certification course for you! It encompasses everything from theoretical learning to hands-on professional experience. 


University of North Carolina – Charlotte Translating Certificate

Do you speak French, German, Japanese, Spanish or Russian proficiently? If so, UNC Charlotte’s translator certification courses are worthy of your consideration. From the history and methodology of translation to computer-assisted translation and advanced post-editing skills, these contemporary classes should leave you well prepared for a successful career in the language services industry. 


Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis Graduate Certificate in Translation Studies

Are you a French, Spanish or German speaker? Then a certified translator course at IUPUI could be the key to unlocking your career success. The syllabus covers the history and theory of translation before moving on to six distinct areas of translation: legal, medical, business, technical, scientific and governmental. This makes it ideal for would-be translators who aren’t yet sure which area of work they would like to specialise in, as well as for those seeking recognition of their all-round translation skills. 


Open University Certificate in Translation and Interpreting

Delivered through San Diego State University, this English-Spanish translation and interpretation certificate allows students to choose their specialisation during the course of their studies. The curriculum encompasses translation theory, advanced translation, simultaneous interpreting, consecutive interpreting and more. 


Georgia State University Translation and Interpretation Graduate Certificate

Available for German, Spanish and French-speaking students, this course sees learners first complete their translation certificate and then their interpretation one. As a graduate certified translator course, this requires all applicants to have already completed a four-year college degree. The interpretation element focuses specifically on medical and court interpreting. 


University of Maryland Graduate Studies in Interpreting and Translation

If you’re seeking graduate translation certification courses that focus on employment opportunities and income-boosting potential, this is an excellent choice. Political, educational, legal, healthcare and business sector translation and interpreting are all covered, with a focus on practical skills and resume-friendly experience. 


Wake Forest University Graduate Program in Interpreting and Translation Studies

Graduate students have three MA options open to them at Wake Forest University, with each course geared towards equipping learners to work in an increasingly globalised world. Options include:

• MA in Interpreting and Translation Studies

• MA in Teaching of Interpreting

• MA in Intercultural Services in Healthcare

Language choices, meanwhile, include Spanish, Chinese and, from the start of the 2020/21 academic year, Portuguese. Graduate and post-graduate certificates are also available, making this a flexible option for those who aren’t quite sure of their desired approach yet. Certificates include:

• Graduate Certificate in Interpreting Studies (Spanish-English only)

• Graduate Certificate in Translation Studies (Spanish-English only)

• Graduate Certificate in Intercultural Services in Healthcare

• Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching of Interpreting


Which Course/Program Should You Take?

Are you ready to take the plunge and upgrade your translation skills? If so, the above should have given you plenty to think about. 

Which course should you take? That will depend on a range of factors, including your location, time available, employment status and whether you’re seeking a generalized or a specialized certification. 

Before you commit to a particular route of study, it’s best to map out why you want a translation certificate. Are you looking to obtain one as the basis for a long and illustrious career that you’ve not yet started? Or do you already have an established career that you would simply like to take in another direction? Such considerations will certainly influence your choice of course.

Obtaining formal recognition of your skills can be hugely motivating, as well as coming with the potential for you to earn more money. Whichever translator certification course you choose, we wish you the best of luck both for completing it and for using that certification to bolster your career. 


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