Pursuing a career as a translator allows you to explore a fulfilling career where you can constantly acquire knowledge while assisting people. As a translator, you will play a vital role in bridging barriers of language and culture, as well as promoting successful communication across nations. Starting a career as a translator necessitates a solid command of many languages, cultural understanding, as well as ongoing professional growth.


Translators are experts at interpreting oral or written material from one language to another while retaining significance, its context, and details. They offer translation services for people such as tourists, companies and residents. Additionally, these professionals interpret languages in films, publications, legal documents, schools, medical settings, business meetings, and other places.


In this piece, I will discuss the requirements needed to start a career as a translator. Additionally, I will explain the various specialisations to explore as a translator.


How to Become a Translator

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

    You need a bachelor’s degree to be able to start a career as a translator. This degree will give you the foundational knowledge in translation theories and techniques. You will also have a competitive edge in the job market as well as a high earning potential. Additionally, this certificate can demonstrate and validate your skills and expertise. You can gain a bachelor’s degree in linguistics or a related field.

  2. Choose a Language Specialisation

    As a translator, you need to have a language that you specialise in. However, if you are proficient in two or more languages, you can work as a translator when your services are needed. You should learn the language that you would serve as a translator for. Additionally, you should gain specialised training in these languages to develop your translation skills.

  3. Choose a Field of Specialisation

    You can decide to work in various niches such as a legal translator, freelance translator, medical translator, etc. This will require you to understand the technicalities of the sector you wish to work with. Therefore, you can work in these fields and gain expertise in these fields.

  4. Gain Professional Experience

    You can gain experience through internships or by volunteering. These experiences can give you practical skills as well as an opportunity to collaborate with professional translators. You can apply to work in places such as translation agencies, language institutions, or multinational companies. Additionally, you can work as a freelancer and build your portfolio while you gain experience.

  5. Build a Portfolio

    As a translator, you should have a well-organized and diverse portfolio. This portfolio would exhibit your language skills and competence. Additionally, it will show your versatility in numerous translation types.

  6. Network with Professionals

    It is vital to establish professional contacts with other translators. You can do this by attending events and getting connected with experts. This may provide you access to career opportunities. Additionally, you will also be able to stay up to date on the latest practices and technologies.


Skills Required for Translators

  1. Active listening
  2. Reading comprehension
  3. Computer skills
  4. Attention to detail
  5. Flexibility
  6. Time management
  7. Creativity
  8. Writing
  9. Language knowledge
  10. Communication


Types of Translators

  1. Legal Translator

    Legal translators specialise in interpreting legal documents such as contracts, judicial proceedings, affidavits, and legal correspondence.

  2. Literary Translator

    Literary translators work with writings such as novels, poetry, and short tales.

  3. Freelance Translator

    Freelance translators operate individually and provide project-based translation services to clients. Additionally, they frequently have a wide range of specialisations and work with a variety of clients and sectors.

  4. Educational Translator

    Educational translators specialise in the translation of educational content such as textbooks, educational resources, and online courses.

  5. Medical Translator

    Medical translators specialise in the translation of medical documents such as patient records, research articles, and pharmaceutical data.

  6. Technical Translator

    Technical translators specialise in translating technical papers about engineering, and information technology, such as software manuals, user guides, and scientific research. Additionally, these professionals are well-versed in complicated technical jargon and terminology.

  7. Business Translator

    Business translators translate commercial-related documents such as financial statements, marketing materials, business correspondence, and company contracts.

  8. Audiovisual Translator

    Audiovisual translators translate information for entertainment such as films, television shows, documentaries, and advertising.

  9. In-house Translator

    In-house translators are full-time employees of enterprises, organisations, or government agencies that manage their translation demands. Additionally, they serve in particular sectors or departments, contributing to the company’s continuing translation operations.


Universities in Africa that Offer Linguistics

  1. University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  2. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  3. Covenant University, Nigeria
  4. University of Pretoria, South Africa
  5. North-West University, South Africa
  6. Cairo University, Egypt
  7. Ain Shams University, Egypt
  8. University of Sfax, Tunisia
  9. Rhodes University, South Africa
  10. Mansoura University, Egypt
  11. Alexandria University, Egypt
  12. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  13. University of Ghana, Ghana
  14. Mansoura University, Tunisia
  15. University of Monastir, Tunisia
  16. Makerere University, Uganda
  17. University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  18. American University in Cairo, Egypt
  19. University of Botswana, Botswana
  20. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  21. Tunis University, Tunisia
  22. Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  23. University of Nairobi, Kenya
  24. Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco
  25. University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
  26. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  27. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  28. University of Calabar, Nigeria
  29. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
  30. University of Fort Hare, South Africa


In Conclusion, starting a career as a translator has a high potential for success around the world. This is because of the rising globalization and the demand for translation services. Additionally, if you have a passion for languages, you will find this career path exciting. Generally, you should have the dedication, perseverance and commitment to learn all the skills and knowledge you need to thrive as a translator.


Good luck!


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