Online Translation Certificate and Certification Programs

For individuals who enjoy languages and seek training and knowledge of translation, certificates are available at the college level. This article looks at graduate certificate programs that focus on a specific language pair, but often also include courses in medical or legal translation.

Essential Information

Individuals who hold bachelor's degrees can apply to certificate programs for language translation. Students must be knowledgeable of languages, and an entrance exam is usually required to prove competency. These programs generally pair languages such as Spanish to English or English to French, although general translation programs may be available. Most programs consist of fewer than ten courses. While many courses may be available online, there is usually an on-campus component and required practical experience outside the classroom.

Students generally must take a minimum number of courses but have many options from which to choose in order to meet their career goals. Courses may include commercial, legal, technical and medical translation, as well as specialties such as subtitle translation or Website translation. Other courses cover computer-assisted translation methods.

Certificate programs in translation are often non-credit programs. Graduates of these programs can apply for credentials from professional translators associations. Credentialing generally calls for meeting education requirements and passing a competency exam.

Overview of Online Certificate Programs in Translation

Specialty certificates in translation usually focus on one language pair, such as Spanish and English or Arabic and English. A general translation option is also available in some cases. This certificate requires the completion of at least six courses. Students learn sight translation techniques, terminology and computer translation programs.

Program Requirements and Information

Translation certificates are available in online, hybrid, and traditional, face-to-face classes. This program may require students to complete practical experience outside of the classroom or attend orientation courses on campus. Students must complete a translation test and application for entry into the certificate program; other steps toward admission include submitting a resume and personal statement and paying an application fee. A bachelor's degree is sometimes a requirement for entrance into a translation certificate program.

In translation certificate programs, students may be required to use textbooks in addition to online course materials. Technical requirements may include software programs, such as Adobe Reader and Flash Player and an Internet browser with Java enabled. These requirements are typically spelled out when students sign up for courses or at the start of the term.

List of Online Translation Courses

The core courses in translation programs include instruction in sight reading, theories of translation and the use of computers in translation. Students may be required to complete a supervised translation practicum to gain experience, and may choose to take courses in translation project management.

Introductory Translation Course

Introductory translation courses may be language-specific. Students learn about the process of translation and available resources. This course begins with an introduction to the professions and fields that demonstrate a high demand for translators.

Translation Tools Course

This course introduces terminology and programs that can be used in computer-aided translation. Students explore how computer-assisted translation has affected the industry as they learn to use translation tools and create lists of commonly used terminology.

Sight Reading Course

Students translate a wide range of materials, from general texts to legal or scientific pieces in this introductory course. This course is language specific.

Continuing Education and Certification

There is no universal certification for translators in the United States. The American Translators Association (ATA) offers certification for members who pass an exam. Individuals must also provide documentation of their education and qualifications prior to registration for the exam. ATA-certified translators must complete 20 hours of continuing education over a 3-year period to maintain active certification (

Master's degrees in translation, typically Master of Arts (M.A.) programs, are available in specific languages. One of the most common Master of Arts in Translation degree programs is specific to the Spanish and English language pair. This graduate degree is available online and in face-to-face classes.

Career Information

Graduates of translation certificate programs may find work in medicine or the court system, as health care or judicial translators. Many translators are self-employed. In May of 2008, there were 50,900 individuals employed as translators or in the related field of interpretation. Translators and interpreters earned an annual wage ranging from $22,170 to $69,190 in that same year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (

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