Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated December 2010
The world gets smaller every day. The Internet, collaboration between professors at universities separated by oceans, international trade, and a greater acceptance and availability of literature from other countries have all made the work of translators more important now than ever. For, as people from across the globe communicate ever more frequently, translation graduate curriculums become that much more important to facilitate successful communication between all people.
Studying in the field
The scope of translation graduate courses runs the gamut from rendering a novel written in one language into another, to accurately translating a trade document at a conference between high-powered government officials. Any time one written document must be changed into another language, the skills and sensitivities of someone with a Masters or PhD degree in translation are needed.
Translation curriculums involve much more than merely knowing a foreign language and applying that knowledge to the task at hand. The translation coursework is far more sensitive than that. For this reason, most countries, aside from the United States, actually have rather stringent certification programs for work in this field. Here, however, that certification is replaced by reliance on a Masters or PhD degree in translation.
The rigors of graduate translation courses are known to be some of the most difficult of any graduate program in the language arts and sciences. Translation concentrations include translation technology, as well as the translation of specific foreign languages. Translation curriculums include intensive study of the language or languages in which students would like to specialize.
Students will take classes in their translation concentration, including in the computer skills necessary to successfully work in the field. Those who study in translation graduate curriculums gain an understanding of the various ways in which the Internet enhance translation, and take courses in computer programming and the legal responsibilities of translators.
Translators, as opposed to interpreters, focus on the written word. As a result, they have the luxury of being able to utilize a number of resources in their quest for accurate and correct translations. That having been said, however, it is important to realize that translation courses involve much more than the ability to peruse a dictionary, find a word, and plug it in. Translation graduate courses also require an understanding of the cultures of users of both languages, in order to grasp all the nuances of the text and its subtle, sub-lingual implications.
Students pursuing a Masters or PhD degree in translation will gain the ability to make choices between equally acceptable versions of a translated passage in order to better convey the full meaning of it. Graduates of translation curriculums have a keen eye for editing, as both the text being translated and the version in the new language will almost certainly require some sort of tweaking in order to maximize their efficacy and understandability.
Job opportunities in the field
Now more than ever, graduates with a Masters or PhD degree in translation are in demand. And as people and industries continue to globalize, their skills will be needed even more. Once the basic coursework has been completed, the directions in which translation careers may go are nearly infinite, and depend to a great extent on the areas that interest the translator most.
Translation careers are available with the government, as well as in the private, non-profit, public and education industries. Some translation job opportunities can be found in the medical, law and international business industries, too. Indeed, careers in translation are both highly intellectual and extremely rewarding in a practical sense. Students with a strong interest in language and a fascination with the cultures of the world will enjoy a career in translation.
The salaries of translators vary by the industry in which they work, as well as other factors including location and experience. A translator can earn an average annual salary of around $64,000, but can command as much as $100,000. Those with a Masters degree in translation can go on to translation careers such as judiciary translation, which has an average salary of $70,000 per year. Meanwhile, a localization translator can earn about $71,000 per year, and a literary translator can earn an average of $66,000 each year.
Students who earn a PhD degree in translation can become researchers that earn about $77,000 annually. They can also become translation professors and earn an average annual salary of $75,000. Obviously, a PhD degree will earn a translator more each year than a translator with a Masters degree. There are many careers in translation available to students with any type of advance degree in translation, and they may be surprised at the relevancy of their skills in careers in other fields.
Check out: Translation/Interpretation Graduate Programs