professionals: degree in translation or what else?
Thread poster: Sara Fiorelli

Sara Fiorelli
Local time: 03:32
English to Italian
+ ...
Dec 13, 2007

I was wondering about this. I'm specializing in Translation at University, and before I had a undergrad degree in Foreign Languages... However, I've seen on this and other sites that there is a large number of professional translators who have not a degree in translation, but in the field they are specialized in. Many have no degrees at all, but they managed to become great professionals and establish them in the market. Any of these people out there? How did you succeeded?

I was curious about this...are there any statistics on this topic? I tried to search the site, but found nothing. I was looking for some survey or pool... Does anyone have some data about this? Any article?

Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice or if I could have studied something else, while maintaining the languages with the help of courses, trips and so on outside the uni. I don't feel much confident sometimes...

Thank you all!!!icon_biggrin.gif


Latin_Hellas (X)
United States
Local time: 03:32
Italian to English
+ ...
Experience Dec 14, 2007

How did you succeed?

I was curious about this...are there any statistics on this topic?

Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice or if I could have studied something else, while maintaining the languages with the help of courses, trips and so on outside the uni. I don't feel much confident sometimes...

Thank you all!!!icon_biggrin.gif

Experience, combined with education. As you mentioned, some successful translators do not even have a degree in a specialization, much less in languages or translations. So natural aptitude is also a major factor.

The translation business is very highly fragmented, you probably won't find statistics on much of anything, and if you do, you'd have to doubt their representativeness, accuracy, and meaning.

All experiences are different, but indeed you may have done better to pursue a technical degree and spend significant periods of time working (better than "trips") in a country where your target language is spoken. I suppose the next best step is to read the trade literature of a specialization in that language as often as possible. Doing both is optimal.

You know, unfortunate as this may sound, as more and more people around the globe have a "university" experience, it becomes less and less valuable in relative terms. It's getting to the point where saying "I have a university degree" is equivalent to saying "I have shoes on both my left foot and my right foot". So what?

There was a time when aristocrats started eating white bread. With industrialization, everyone started eating white bread. In recent decades, "the experts" now say that wheat bread is more nutritious.

There was a time when sons followed their fathers in a trade to make a living.

I'm not saying that university education is not worth anything - it's worth a lot - but by itself it is not a guarantee of anything.

[Edited at 2007-12-14 09:14]


sonia meher  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:02
English to Hindi
Sailing on the same boat. Dec 14, 2007

Hi Sara
Well...Like you I too have pursued a full time rigorous course in translation at university level. Well...It's right that a university degree is no guarantee for success in terms of getting well established in a career, you always need experience, dedication and hard work to carve a niche for urself...But at the same time I would also maintain that a formal educational degree imaprts finesse and subtle insight to dive deep into the text and producing the closest text in the target language.
So, in a way you can say that a professional degree with experience and dedication is like icing on the cake:) It makes you better equipped to deal with the job in hand.
Happy Translating!!!
Sonia Meher


Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:32
Spanish to English
I'm sure a University course in translation can only be good Dec 14, 2007

A lot of translators haven't university studies in translation because I don't think there used to be that many courses available for one thing.

I came to translation late but I found that my broad range of interests and lots of reading over a lifetime stood me in good stead and I think you can develop that alongside your course.


Krys Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:32
Member (2003)
Polish to English
+ ...
qualfied yet not qualified Dec 15, 2007

I have no linguistic qualifications whatsoever, but I have a biomedical BSc and PhD. I picked up my languages along the way. I fell into translation by accident, but clients keep coming back for more, so obviously I have something to offer. My main advantage is that I do not simply have the terminology for the material I translate, but I also understand the context due to my biomedical background. I find that this outweighs any linguistic weaknesses I may have. I would not dare to compete as a translator in other fields, but within biomedicine I feel I have an advantage over people who have only travelled the linguistic route. Certainly I notice this sometimes when I have to review translations done by others who clearly do not understand the subject matter.


Sara Fiorelli
Local time: 03:32
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER fact... Dec 15, 2007

Thank you all.

Maybe it's just that I'm confused now. As the end of my studies draws near, I feel I have to sum up all I've done and start looking for my real path on life. And I'm more and more confused...perhaps it's the same thing that happens to everybody when finishing the studies. But I do not have idea of where to start. Sometimes I doubt to have the dedication Sonia was talking about...
I think I'll go for dream would be that to specialize in tourism translation, translate for art: exhibitions, guidebooks and museum catalogues.
Now I'm finishing my period in soon as I will be living at home again, I'll start looking for my way. I do not regret my choices (regrets are quite useless, aren't they?) and I'll try to make the best of them.
Luckily I'm not really attracted my technical translation, so I think I won't be one of those people who translate without knowing the matter, as Krys was sayingicon_smile.gif

Thanks for your opinions

P.S. About the statistics I was looking for, I thought there could be something similar among proz my opinion, could be a good representative sample of the professional translators world.


Natalia Eklund  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:32
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Experience and the willingness to make and learn from mistakes Dec 20, 2007

I read once that statistically the most successful businessmen did not have degrees in Business - they were Philosophy majors.

So, sometimes when I doubt myself, this reassures me that there are many paths to take and it's all a question of our proper skills, confidence and experience.


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