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How to Become a Certified Translator

Shrinivas Kanade
You can know about becoming a certified translator, and think of making a career in it. This career requires good knowledge and command of the source and target languages.
The field of translation has many opportunities for those who are comfortable with a second language. Your decision to take to this field can help you get a job in translation service, hospitals, law offices, non-profit organizations, businesses, courts, and government agencies.
These are the places visited by people from diverse cultures, and not all of them can communicate their needs in English. It may be that you already have some experience as a freelancer, or from when you did it as a favor to someone you know. However, achieving a certification can move you up a notch and give you a competitive edge over the rest.

Becoming a Professional

One important thing you must understand is that a language is as good as an individual, as it keeps changing and updating itself through addition of new words.
Anyone, advising you on becoming a translator, will say, "The first step you can take is to improve/update your vocabulary". To do your work fast and within the deadline, you should aim to acquire a vast vocabulary, and the nuances of the foreign language that you are interested in.
Following are some hints, which can help you in getting certified.
  • For this task, you can use dictionaries to look up prospective words that can help you.
  • Record the words that you find difficult to master, along with their meanings, and hear them as often as possible.
  • You can watch movies and try to tag the actions with the words that you already know.
  • Listening to the radio programs, in the language in which you are interested, is also an effective way of mastering it. While doing so, focus on the grammar, syntax, and semantics of the sentences used.
  • Find out the libraries or places where you can refer to the books, periodicals, or newspapers published in the language you have decided to master.
  • Find out the agencies or institutes in your locality that run classes, and can offer professional help.
  • Get to know which agencies or non-profit groups will let you work as a volunteer. It will be an excellent opportunity for you to practice and hone your language skill, and will prove to be a valuable experience.
Some agencies, such as the American Translators Association (ATA) conduct certification exams for the translators, and demand some practical experience in this regard.
You must choose from the different kind of certifications available. Depending on your need and aptitude, you may want to choose a general one, or some special kind of certification. If you have the latter option in mind, you can opt for medical or technical translation test in your chosen language.
Before you pay fees to appear for the exam, you must know about what are the educational and other qualifications that the institute you are applying for, demands from the candidates.
Along with the ATA, following are some institutes, which conduct such exams.
  • Translators and Interpreters Guild
  • The Federal Court
  • The U.S. Department of State
One can find information about different tests, such as dates and location, through the Internet. By going through the institutes' websites, you can also know about the job description as well as how much money you will have to pay as fees for the test.
After passing the test, update your resume with the result. The skill can bring you a salary in the range of USD 27,000 - USD 36,000 as a rookie. Of course, it also depends on the place of work, the language you are proficient in, and the company where you are working.
With some experience, you may graduate to the top 10%, and can take home USD 80,000 - USD 100,000 as salary.