Diploma Translations: A Good Way to Start Out as a Translator

It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to do.

Whether it’s become a translator, become a writer, start working out, or be a better father.

One of the mistakes that people make, and that you’ve probably made, too, is thinking that you have to be as good as a professional when you’re just starting out.

That’s why people make mistakes when they become a translator, like thinking they need to form an LLC before they’ve even find a single client.

Or thinking they need to do The Rock’s workout before they can even walk up a flight of stairs without stopping for a breath.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed about becoming a translator, especially when you look at other translators that have been doing it for 20 years, just stop.

Realize that everyone had to start somewhere.

Change your frame of mind.

Be glad that you have shoulders of giants to stand on, which will make your life even easier.

And if you are looking for somewhere to start, one thing you can do is start with translating diplomas.

According to the State Department, in 2014
there were almost 600,000 F-1 visas
issued worldwide.

Number of international students

That means that between 2009 and 2014, an 80% increase in five years.

F1 visas are nonimmigrant visas issued to foreigners wishing to study at a university or college in the United States.

This number has increased every single year for the past five years at least, and if things stay the same, will continue growing.

And with the number of foreign students entering the U.S. increasing, that means there will always be opportunities to translate for them.

Because in order for foreign students to study at a U.S. university, most of them need to have their foreign diplomas translated into English.

Here’s a sampling I pulled up in a 2 second Google search:

Midland College in Texas

Midland College - Diploma translation

Brandman College in California

Brandman College - Diploma Translation Brandman College - Diploma Translation

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley - Diploma Translation

Duke University Graduate School

Duke University - Diploma Translation

Remember, this is just a sample.

Most colleges and universities require that international students submit translated copies of their diplomas and transcripts along with their applications.

In addition, the translations have to be done by professional translators or professional translation services.

And this is where you come in.

This is the translation service you start offering.

The first step to getting started in diploma
translation is to look professional.

You’ve got to project professionalism if you want to translate transcripts and diplomas because the universities and colleges requiring the translations state that a professional translator has to do them.

What does professional mean in this case?

It means that you can show you translate for money.

Do you have a translation website that looks professional?

Does your LinkedIn account look professional and discuss your interactions within the translation industry?

One of these two things is usually enough to satisfy most university requirements for professionalism.

Translation certification can also “prove” that you’re a professional translator.

Once you can show that you’re a professional translator, it’s time to find the right clients.

International students coming to the U.S. are
well-versed with regards to the online marketplace.

So you need to go where they would go to find translators.

Start with websites like Fiverr.

Especially if you’re just starting out.

I just did a search on “translation” on Fiverr.

There were almost 8,000 results.

But then I did a search on diploma translations.

Guess how many results there were.


If you specifically target students that need their diplomas translated, you’d have the corner on the market right now.

The same is probably true for other auction sites.

Register yourself for these sites, claim your speciality is in diploma translations, and get in on the front end of that niche.

Once you get orders coming in (or even before), you need to understand some differences between diploma translations and other types.

Translating a diploma is not hard; it’s
the other stuff that can be difficult.

Diplomas and transcripts are not lengthy nor wordy documents.

They have tables, lots of blank space, and fairly simple and consistent wording.

The hard part comes with the formatting.

With diplomas and transcripts, you want the translated version to not only mean the same thing as the original, you want it to look the same as well.

So in order to do a good job, you’ll have to be rather adept at desktop publishing software for making the formatting look the same.

There’s no one product I endorse. I’ve used different tools depending on what I needed.

Usually, the more expensive a tool, the more complicated it is, and the bigger hassle it is to use it.

But there are free tools out there that can get the job done if you’re willing to sit down for a day and learn how to use them.

The second thing you need to realize about translating diplomas or transcripts is that the university or college requiring the documents sometimes wants to have the translations notarized.

This isn’t difficult at all, but can be a bit of inconvenience if you don’t have a ready place to do that.

Most banks, however, will do it for you for a small fee.

Even your local library might have a notary public on staff that can help you out.

You’ll be able to find one without too much trouble. It’s just an inconvenient but sometimes necessary step.

And that’s it.

If you’re serious about becoming a translator, but don’t know where to start, this is the place.

I’ve laid out the process for you.

Now it’s up to you.

Until next time.

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