Translation and interpretation students know how to talk the talk -- in
more than one language.
Some universities and colleges offer a certificate or diploma rather than
a degree. Some schools offer a co-op program combining work and study.
While certificates take less time, keep in mind that translators and
interpreters need to be fluent in the language they specialize in. So
if your written French could use improvement, you may want to consider a longer
"Interpretation and translation are two related but separate areas," says
Ina Dieguez. She is the director of a university translation program.
Translation focuses on working with written documents rather than interpreting
a person's speech. Dieguez says very few schools offer interpreter
Besides being fluent in another language, there are several other qualities
that will help a student succeed.
"I find that to be a good translator or interpreter, a student should
have a great deal of curiosity, love language and be very interested in other
cultures," says John Balcom, a professor at Monterey Institute of International
Studies in California.
"I think curiosity is a necessary quality because translators and interpreters
deal with any subject imaginable in their work. This requires that one become
familiar with a variety of subjects -- both conceptually and linguistically."
Take a wide range of classes in high school "I think that the general
college prep curriculum is good preparation for translators and interpreters,"
says Balcom. "They should have good writing and public speaking skills
as well as sound research skills, the sorts of things that a college-prep
curriculum generally provides."
But language skills are the most important, says Dieguez. She suggests
taking advanced grammar classes in both languages you plan to use. A third
language can also come in handy.
"High school students should start by reading, reading and more reading,"
Dieguez says. "They should read things on the same topic in both languages
and discuss what they read with their peers, just for terminology practice."
She says joining a debating club can also help students hone their
Textbooks are not usually a major expense in these programs.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Find current labor market data for Translators and Interpreters
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