What Are the Different Types of Translation Qualifications?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2019
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Translation qualifications vary, depending on the level of service provided and the industry needing translation. Qualifications for a legal or medical translator might require a background in the subject matter to help ensure accuracy. Translation qualifications in a technical field generally require knowledge of terminology used in a specific area, such as physics or engineering. Basic knowledge includes competency in each language and an understanding of cultural nuances that might affect translation of written documents.

Certification as a translator might be needed to work for government agencies or international organizations that provide translation. Some translators earn degrees in linguistics, which is the study of languages. These courses teach how primary language is acquired and how people learn a foreign language. They might include phonics, the orientation of words, and cultural differences in word usage.

Translation qualifications in some fields might require passing a test to show writing skills in both languages. The judicial system typically includes testing for translators who deal with legal terms where the outcome might affect a defendant’s freedom. These translators might interpret court documents or taped dispositions of witnesses, or translate court proceedings as they occur.

Often called interpreters, translators of oral speech might repeat what a witness says into another language. Legal translators must handle the stress of long hours repeating conversations into a foreign language in a courtroom setting. They must be able to quickly interpret and translate information as it is spoken.


Working as a translator in the medical field might include working for a research facility and converting scientific publications into another language. Translation qualifications for these jobs typically require medical backgrounds and an understanding of technical terminology. These translators usually earn certification and might hold a degree in medicine or science.

Jobs in translation might also include working for newspapers, magazines, or the film industry. Many publications translate material into one or more foreign languages via translators. Filmmakers might need translation of scripts before distributing movies in foreign countries.

Translation qualifications in the business world usually depend upon the size of the company and the scope of services. International firms might need a translator for written documents, contracts, or translation services at conferences and business meetings. Translators at meetings typically repeat conversations in one or more languages after each person speaks. Some large corporations use headphones for visiting business clients, with the translator repeating dialogue.


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