Some of the best translators I know don’t have a degree in translation, so they are certainly not a requirement to becoming a translator.
However, an increasing number of newcomers to the profession are opting to pursue a formal (usually postgraduate) qualification in the field.
So when translator Lloyd Bingham put out the following call a few months back on Twitter, it set me thinking:
Looking for a few translators WITH and WITHOUT an MA to talk about the relevance of a translation Master’s for the job. Please help and RT!!
— Lloyd Bingham (@thelanguageman) June 5, 2012
What should you keep in mind when weighing up whether a translation degree is for you?
Here are two key tips that I believe prospective students often overlook:
- Ask yourself why you want to do it. Is it to learn new translation techniques? To verify what you already know? To get recognition, confidence, a job, or something else? All of these reasons are valid, and there is almost certainly a qualification out there that will give you one or more of these things – you just need to make sure you choose the course that will best match your motivations.
- Think specifically about the kind of work you might want in the future. Some courses may be better able to prepare you for some jobs than others, depending on their approach, and network of staff and former students. For example, think about which of the following you might prefer:
- An inhouse position. If so, in a big institution or a small operation?
- To go freelance. If so, for which kinds of clients – primarily direct, or agencies?
- A management role in the industry. Project management, running a company of your own, or something else?
It’s no secret that formal education requires considerable investment in terms of time, money and energy. However, instead of focussing entirely on the course, it’s essential to take a realistic view of what you bring to the table as a prospective student too.
Let’s face it: if you’re not clear on what you want from your degree before you start, you really only have yourself to blame if you’re not happy with what you have when you finish.
Check out Lloyd’s articles for his take on the pros and cons of postgraduate degrees (including one featuring me) here and here.
Photo credit: Professor Levi by geckoam, on Flickr