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Career guide: How to become a language translator in India?

Published: Tuesday 22nd September 2020

A career as a language translator may seem uncommon in India, but it is a field that will reward you with tremendous industrial exposure and worldly knowledge. Becoming a language translator may seem like an uncommon choice in India, but it is one of the popular up and coming professions, thanks to growing importance of communication due to traveling constraints since early 2020. Every multinational company needs translators while conducting meetings with foriegn delegates, governments have translators in offices and courts, and a professional translator can even coach others language proficiency.

If a career in translation interests you, our career guide on how to become a translator will help you to understand everything you need to know to start your research.

Scope in language translator as a career

If you chose career as a language translator, many sectors will require your services for diplomatic or linguistic interpretations. There are opportunities for translators to work for private organizations, the government, and even as a freelancer. 

Job profiles available for translators:

  • Healthcare Translators And Medical Interpreters
  • Legal Translators And Judicial Interpreters
  • Literary Translator
  • Embassy Translator
  • Sign Language Translators And Interpreters
  • Corporate Business Translators And Interpreters

How to become a translator in India?

Eligibility:  The minimum eligibility an individual is required to have if they want to become a translator is passing their 10+2 examinations. This means that you need to clear your 12th HSC or a 10+2 years equivalent undergraduate certificate. There is no particular stream or subject combination that you need to major in if you want to pursue a career as a translator. All students of Science, Arts and Commerce streams can continue to become translators even if they don’t have any prior experience with a language they may be interested in becoming a translator or interpreter in.

Courses: To become a language translator after your 12th boards, you can take up one of the three course options as mentioned below. 

  • A certificate course: A certificate course is a short to medium term (2-6 months) long program that will train you in a language and its translation. However, these certificate courses come in different levels of difficulty where you are required to pass 4-5 levels as required by protocol to become a proficient translator.
  • A diploma course: A diploma course lasts for 6-10 months and is also a short term course in translation of a particular language. Since the levels of difficulty may differ, there can be beginners, intermediate, and expert levels of diplomas that you need to complete to become a professional translator.
  • A degree course: A BA degree course is a full-fledged 3 years bachelor’s program in language and it’s study, where you can choose your major and minor language of choice. We would recommend you to take this route if you have just passed your 12th, since it teaches you everything from scratch and is considered to be given the highest weightage in profiles. Once completed, you can proceed with a MA and M.Phil if it interests you.

Note: Some universities take an entrance exam pertaining to your knowledge in the language you want to study; so here, a background will help. 

There are also independent bodies that conduct entrance exams for languages like French, German and Japanese that you can appear for certification. These language proficiency tests will grade your expertise and can land you a good job if you have a high accreditation. For example, if you want to become an English translator, you will have to appear for the IELTS by the British Council that conducts listening, reading, writing and speaking based exams throughout the year. 

Reading material for future translators:

Apart from the information above, it always helps to have reading material to help you understand translation as a career. Here is a list of a few publications that will help you kickstart your first steps as a translator:

  • Translation as a Profession- By Roger Chriss
  • The Entrepreneurial Linguist- By Judy and Dagmar Jenner
  • The Translator’s Handbook- By Morry Sofer
  • The Translator’s Handbook- By Morry Sofer
  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear? By David Bellos
  • How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator- By Corinne McKay
  • Mox’s Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation

While these books are on our recommended must haves, you can do your own research and read other available books on translation as a career. To sum it all up, a career as a language translator is a career that will pay off well once you have good experience in the industry. It also offers you an opportunity for foriegn travel or to meet delegates from different countries during meetings, conferences and summits. If you are still browsing for more career options and guidance , you can look up our career guide section and info hub, where we discuss all about various career paths that you can take up for a bright future!

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