Become a Korean Translator: Job Duties and Requirements

Learn how to become a Korean translator. Research the job description and education requirements and find out how to start a career in Korean translation. View article »

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  • 0:03 Should I Become a…
  • 0:59 Consider a Bachelor's Degree
  • 1:51 Gain Experience
  • 2:48 Consider Certification

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Korean Translator?

Korean translators convert written documents into the Korean language. They may also record speeches and transcribe them into Korean. Translators work to keep the context, ideas, style and voice as identical to the original document as possible.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about one in five translators are self-employed. Many translators may make their own hours. Work is typically sent to them by electronic means, which can offer the convenience of working from home. Although Korean translators who work for companies or organizations may have steady work, self-employed translators may have periods of no work or heavy workloads. Often these translators work on tight deadlines, which can extend their work hours.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Korean, translation studies or another related field
Certification Not required, but helps demonstrate skill in translating
Key Skills Excellent written communication skills, fluent in both Korean and English, attention to detail; basic word processing software
Salary (2015) $44,190 (median annual wage for translators and interpreters)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Translators Association

Consider a Bachelor's Degree

Educational requirements vary for each employer, but all require Korean translators to be fluent in Korean and one other language. It's also essential for Korean translators to have excellent writing and editing skills.

Many employers require Korean translators to have a bachelor's degree. According to the BLS, it is not always necessary to major in a language. Someone who is already fluent in Korean and another language can opt to major in a field for specialized translation, such as literature, healthcare, or law.

Students can acquire formal translation training education from colleges or universities that offer translation studies degree programs. Requirements for a bachelor's degree in translation or applied linguistics often involve language and culture classes, translation techniques, and subject-specific translation.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Comparative Literature
  • Language Translation
  • Linguistics

Gain Experience

Korean translators should immerse themselves in the language and culture. Spending ample time in Korea, as well as the country where the other known language is regularly used, is beneficial so the Korean translator becomes familiar with the culture and using the language naturally. Korean translators may also find it advantageous to read books in both languages on a variety of subjects and interact with people who speak both native languages.

Translation experience is essential in this field. In fact, many employers won't even consider someone who does not have prior experience. Several ways exist to gain this important experience. Volunteer work and internships, which can be found via colleges and universities, are both viable ways to gain experience. Individuals can also perform translations for free to build a portfolio, then present it to potential employers to demonstrate translation abilities.

Consider Certification

Certification is not required to become a Korean translator, but it does provide the opportunity for those entering the field to demonstrate their proficiency via written examinations. Professional organizations, such as the American Translators Association (ATA), are worth looking into, although the ATA did not offer a certification in Korean-to-English translation as of 2016.

To sum it up, Korean translators must be fluent in Korean and at least one other language and they can help their chances of employment by immersing themselves in the language and culture to gain experience.

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