How do I Become a Chinese Translator?

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  • Written By: Patrick Roland
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  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2019
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The Chinese language is becoming one of the most widely spoken tongues. Many private and government business opportunities are available that deal specifically with this centuries-old language. If you want to become a Chinese translator, you must dedicate several years of your life to perfecting the language and all of its dialects. After you have acquired this skill, there are many career opportunities that you can pursue as a foreign language master.

Chinese translators take written documents, such as contracts or books, and convert them from Chinese into another language or from another language into Chinese. A similar job is that of a Chinese interpretation, who focuses on converting spoken words rather than written material. An interpreter might sit in on a business meeting or a government summit and translate what is said for those who do not speak Chinese.

Education is key when planning to become a Chinese translator. Many jobs require you to have at least a bachelor's degree in Chinese. This will give you a chance to polish your communication skills and familiarize yourself with all of the aspects of the language. Many future translators learn the differences between the language's 10 dialects in school and often specialize in one or two because they are so different.


Someone without this educational background still could become a Chinese translator, especially if he or she has been speaking the language for years. Immersion, or using the new language in as many aspects of life as possible, is a great way to get a feel for any language. Most Chinese translator jobs have a Chinese language aptitude test that you must pass, so it doesn't matter how you came into your expertise as long as you can prove your linguistic skills.

With a solid understanding of Chinese, you still must hone many skills to handle the life of a translator. A skilled translator must be bilingual in order to convert Chinese into another language and vice-versa. You also must be a strong written communicator in both languages. To become a Chinese translator, you must be able to make fast decisions, because you might be under a tight deadline.

There are many career opportunities for a Chinese translator. The government offers translators federal jobs or even state jobs in this field. There also are many people who work for private companies in a variety of capacities. You also could make a living as a self-employed translator, working freelance jobs.


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Post 1

The article is wrong to say you need to master all the dialects: "If you want to become a Chinese translator, you must dedicate several years of your life to perfecting the language and all of its dialects." There are more than the 10 stated here and most interpreters only have one or two.

Virtually all would have Mandarin, which should suffice for nearly everything. North Americans have also heard Cantonese spoken; most of these speakers also speak Mandarin but not necessarily that well.

Immersion is the way to go, but not all bilingual people could easily become interpreters or translators.

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