Top Tips for Finding the Best Translation Program

If you’re thinking of becoming a translator, you’ve certainly thought at least once about whether or not you should enroll yourself in a translation program.

Hopefully this article can answer some of your questions.

Purpose of a Translation Program

First of all, it’s important to understand that most translation programs exist to help translators (or potential translators). They do this by helping them hone their craft.

Remember, though, that there are “translation programs” that exist whose sole existence is to make money. Making money is fine. Making money by providing a crappy product is not what you want to do.

So, translation programs are menat to help translsators become better.

There are all sorts of different translation programs that exist.

Some focus on specific language combinations, while others focus on topics of interest or specializations.

But, first, it’s time to answer an even more important question.

Do You Need a Translation Program

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need to “graduate” from a translation program before you can become a translator.

In fact, you don’t even need to take translation classes or be enrolled in a translation program at all in order to become a successful freelance translator.

Remember, translation programs are there to help you become a better translator. If you are already a good translator that understands how to run your business, there might not be any reason to enroll in a program.

However, if you are a new translator, or are looking to undersand more about 1) how the translation business works or 2) how to actually do translation, then a translation program can be a great idea.

What to Look for in a Translation Program

Translation programs can come in all shapes and sizes.

At one end of the spectrum you have translation degree programs.

This is what I graduated from in college. A multi-year college degree program that delved into the theory behind translation which included multiple translation projects and books/lectures on theory.

At the other end of the spectrum you have week-long translation classes. These focus specifically on either language or specialized topics, like medical or financial translation.

Now, the situation you’re currently in will determine what you need to look for in a translation program.

And the things you’ll most likely need to figure out for yourself before you sign up for a program include some of the following.


So one of the first things to look for in a translation program is the amount of time of the program.

Only you’ll know how much time you can spend on a program and whether or not it fits within your schedule.

Maybe you have a family and don’t have the means to leave for six months to enroll in a translation certificate program.

Instead, maybe you’d be better off served by a translation program that meets during work hours for a couple of weeks.

However, maybe you don’t have any family or work commitments. Then, you could possibly spend that six months to two years enrolled in a full-time translation diploma-granting program. That might be the best option for you.

General vs. Specific

Next, pay attention to type of training that is being offered.

What I mean by this is that there are programs that focus on the general theory of translation. Also, there are programs that that instead focus on specific application of translation.

For most aspiring translators, a program that focuses on specific translation application is going to be better than a program that only offers a theoretical or general explanation of what translation is.

The absolute best option of all, however, would be a course that talks about the theory of translation, the practical application, and the business aspect of the translation industry.

However, for a course like that, you’re probably looking at a course that is at least six months long. It’s also probably taught at a university.

Topic-Focused or Not

Once you’ve figured out how much time you have to spare and whether or not you want the program to be specific or general, it’s time to decide if you want the program to be focused on a specific specialization.

For example, a lot of translation programs focus specifically on medical translation.

Others focus on legal or financial translation.

Obviously if you’re a medical translator, or looking to be one, you’ll want to make sure that you enroll in a medical translation program.

If you don’t know what are you want to specialize in before enrolling in a translation course, try to find a course that talks about general translation topics and that allows you to explore possible translation interests.

The more exposed you are to all the possible types of translation (financial, medical, literary, etc.), the better prepared you’ll be to become a translator.


The last thing to think about before enrolling in a translation prorgram is the location.

Again, if you have obligations that prohibit you from enrolling in a translation program that is away from your home location, it might not be the best fit.

If that’s the case, though, remember that there are always online translation courses. These might be the best fit for you.

They allow you to take classes on your own timeframe and from any location you want.

For someone that has other obligations, this is a great option.


Translation programs aren’t for everyone.

But you might need a little more information and experience to get started. If so, a translation program might be a great option to look at.

If you want a good place to start your search, be sure and check out this list of translation programs by BeTranslated. They’re offered around the world.

P.S. If you can’t take a full-fledged course on translation, get ahead by reading my book.

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