• Juliana Castro

A degree in translation: is it really necessary?

Updated: May 14, 2019

In this article I am to present to you if it is strictly necessary to have a degree in translation in order to become a translator and what are the benefits of having one.

(being a native Portuguese translator, I will limit my knowledge to the Portuguese spectrum)

  • Do I need to have a degree to be a translator?

In Portugal, despite of their several years of experience and number of degrees, a translator cannot certify a translated document. This is something that only notaries or lawyers are able to do. Thus, if you ever need a certified document from a Portuguese translator, bear in mind that they require the services of a nearby notary or lawyer and that will slightly increase the price of the overall service you are asking for.

In addition to that, there isn't any specific "Portuguese Translators Association" like the American version and, therefore, to be a translator is a job that is not fixed by law. Due to these reasons, it is still possible to become a translator without a translation degree (bachelor's, master's or PhD). Albeit not necessary, a translation course is an asset that can mean the difference between getting a job or not.

  • Benefits of having a translation degree

a) some companies only hire translators who have a translation degree, both as regards to in-house or freelance translation, for the degree broadens the potencial quantity of work provided.

b) degrees in Translation usually offer an expertise field in which the translator can obtain deeper knowledge at and use it to translate documents others couldn't. Medicine is a field that requires special attention to detail and accuracy and is one of the fields that a "lay translator" wouldn't be able to work with...but put it in the hands of an expert translator and you'll see the magic!

c) a translation degree offers linguistic and cultural knowledge and even know-how on CAT tools. This certainly allows a translator to deliver their work with more quality and rigour.

d) internships provided by superior degrees are just another benefit. They offer the novice translator the opportunity to acquire insight from fellow senior colleagues (much more experienced and skilled) and the internships abroad allow the translator to learn more about the cultural and linguistic treasures from a certain language/country.

  • Translation degrees in Portugal

Almost all Portuguese major universities offer translation courses - bachelor's, master's or even PhD degrees.

Besides these degrees, there are a few Portuguese associations like APTRAD and APT which also provide specific training related to specific fields such as subtitling techniques, CAT tools, project management, and for those who are willing to learn how to manage their emotions when work is crushing their ability to think properly, emotional intelligence.

  • Join an association

In Portugal there are 4 associations connected to the translation industry:

  1. Associação Portuguesa de Tradutores (APT)

  2. Associação Portuguesa de Tradutores e Intérpretes (APTRAD)

  3. Conselho Nacional de Tradução (CNT)

  4. Associação Portuguesa de Empresas de Tradução (APET)

For freelancers, the most interesting ones are APT and APTRAD, because both associations aim for the profissionalisation and dignification of the translator's career. To join, one must fill a few particular requirements associated with one's academic qualifications and professional experience.

And for today, this is it!

Are you more enlighted about this matter? I do hope so!

If not, send me a message via the message box in this website or via my personal email. I will be more than honoured to help you out with your questions.

See you next Friday!


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