Poll: Does it pay off to attend postgraduate courses in translation?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 06:58
Aug 8, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Does it pay off to attend postgraduate courses in translation?".

This poll was originally submitted by Andrzej Niewiarowski. View the poll results »


Interlangue (X)
Local time: 15:58
English to French
+ ...
Other Aug 8, 2010

It does for a friend who teaches translation at university level. I am not sure it does in translation work.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
It depends Aug 8, 2010

From my own point of view it would be a waste of time, money and effort as I am already a working translator and only really need to update/recyle my skills or tools from time to time, which can usually be done informally and flexibly.

However, if you are thinking about embarking on a translation-related career, to ensure a degree of quality many prospective clients or translation agencies often ask for a specific translation certificate or qualification, so in that case it might be useful. It could also be helpful if the course includes the new SW and tools coming onto the market.

Horses for courses...


Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:58
Member (2006)
German to English
Not sure Aug 8, 2010

is missing here, maybe. For those who have never thought about it?
But other than that, with neilmac

[Edited at 2010-08-09 00:12 GMT]


Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:58
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Definitely yes! Aug 8, 2010

If you are a committed translator with love for languages, culture and professionalism, you should attend postgraduate courses. It is a matter of keeping up-to-date and enriching your knowledge.


Interlangue (X)
Local time: 15:58
English to French
+ ...
But... Aug 8, 2010

Fabio Descalzi wrote:

If you are a committed translator with love for languages, culture and professionalism, you should attend postgraduate courses. It is a matter of keeping up-to-date and enriching your knowledge.

The post-graduate course I started (and quit after about a month in 2007) required to attend classes 35 hours/week + 3 hours commuting/day + homework. That schedule was for about 4 months. Then came a practicum of a couple of months in a company (± 8 hours/day+ commuting) and a dissertation.
The financial investment was not so terribly high (±7,000€) but other costs would continue running too (social security, professional insurance, etc.)

I soon realized I needed weekends to do some house chores and get some rest, and there was no time (or intellectual availability) left to earn a living...

There are other possibilities to keep up and enhance your skills!

[Modifié le 2010-08-08 16:39 GMT]


Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 16:58
English to Russian
+ ...
Repair the Bicycle or Ride It? Aug 8, 2010

This poll made me recall the excellent short story by Jerome K. Jerome "Repair the Bicycle or Ride It?"

In terms of this question, I would rephrase it as: "Study a foreign language or use it to earn your living?"

I did attend quite a few courses, but my firm belief and conclusion is that nothing is as valuable to keep you updated and able as real work.

And I'm suspicious when I see resumes of those who have too many diplomas... These people are likely to be good at studying, not at work!


Wil Hardman  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
You only stand to gain... Aug 8, 2010

If you are just starting out I would definitely recommend it as it can give you more credibility when searching for clients and will help you to avoid some of the potential pitfalls. For those who already have an established career, perhaps it is not essential (and probably won't be financially advantageous).
However, I think everyone benefits from education and the opportunity to think about translation from a theoretical point of view rather than a professional one can certainly be enriching.

I suppose it depends what is meant by "pay off".


Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Training is a must Aug 8, 2010

I learnt to translate through translation classes. I personally wouldn't be able to translate without them. I also taught translation for a couple of years and saw that training was necessary for every single one of the students I taught, without any exception whatsoever. In classes things are pointed out to you which you otherwise would not notice by yourself. Translators with no formal training produce awkward translations and tend to translate either too close or too far away from the text (and that's just for starters).


Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:58
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
not necessarily Aug 8, 2010

I think if you plan on teaching or doing literary translation...I would never embark upon doing literary translation without university training.
For things like medical translation or legal,I think specific courses can be useful.


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:58
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It depends Aug 9, 2010

Education is never wasted. It's one of the best investments we can make. However, for a practicing translator, perhaps courses in an area of specialization might be more directly relevant to his/her daily work.

In my case, I became intensely curious about why I came up with the solutions I did when translating, and that led me to graduate-level studies in linguistics in mid-career. I derived a number of benefits from this investment of time and effort, but not necessarily the ones being asked about here. From my current perspective, I would rank these benefits in the following order:
- A wonderful experience to remember always;
- Lifelong friends;
- Intellectual discipline (honesty, no guessing);
- A much deeper understanding of the process of human expression;
- Clearer decision-making in the handling of problems in my texts;
- Degrees that look good on paper and have helped me both as an employee and in my free-lance business.


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Poll: Does it pay off to attend postgraduate courses in translation?

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