How Can I Become a Spanish Translator?
Learn about required skills and education and training options for Spanish translators. Discover where you could work as a Spanish translator and what you could earn. Schools offering Applied Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Should I Study?
Many translator job openings don't have set educational requirements. However, you must have strong knowledge of the language you want to translate into and the language you want to translate from, in this case Spanish and probably English. While the U.S. Department of State uses the term 'translators' to describe those working with written documents and 'interpreters' for those working with the spoken word, you may be considering either of these options (www.languageservices.state.gov).
You may want to start preparing for a career as a translator by taking Spanish in high school for your foreign language requirement. After you graduate, a bachelor's degree and master's degree program in Spanish or linguistics can be obtained through many colleges. Along with elementary and advanced Spanish, you'll study Spanish literature and conversational Spanish. Linguistics and Spanish grammar help you to understand the construction of the language and how to translate.
If you're interested in interpretation, you'll want to select classes that help you develop the ability to recognize different dialects and vocabulary. Since interpreters need to understand what people are saying in both languages and quickly translate it for the other party, you may find it helpful to take classes focused on developing speaking ability. To work as a document translator, you'll need a solid grasp of grammar and vocabulary, the ability to read detailed texts in both languages and an understanding of technical terms used by specialized fields. You may want to study professional Spanish to learn key terminology used in a variety of fields.
How Should I Gain Experience?
To practice the language, many college programs offer internships or practicums with local organizations. You'll act as an interpreter, while being supervised. Participating in voluntary work around your community may also lead to opportunities speaking Spanish or making Spanish-speaking contacts that may help you hone your comprehensive skills.
You can also consider studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. By immersing yourself in the culture, you'll be forced to learn the language quicker. You'll also learn about that country's culture and learn the dialects of the areas. You should also watch movies and read books in the native tongue.
How Do I Become Certified?
The BLS reports that there is no current national certification that covers Spanish translating. However, the American Translators Association does offer certification as a translator (www.atanet.org). You must have both work experience and college education to sit for this exam. Some medical and judicial fields offer certification in the respective fields.
What Could I Earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many companies only hire translators who have three or more years of experience (www.bls.gov). Salary.com reported in May 2011 that translators with 2-5 years of experience earned a median salary of $43,547. The BLS also noted that 26% of translators and interpreters are self-employed, and employment opportunities were expected to grow by 22% between 2008 and 2018. These statistics, however, are for all translators in general, not specifically those working in Spanish. However, the BLS did note that those with knowledge of Spanish could see good job opportunities with the increase in immigration from Spanish-speaking countries.
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