Arabic Translator: Job Description and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an Arabic translator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary to find out if this is the right career for you.

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While fluency in Arabic and at least one other language is crucial for working as an Arabic translator, some employers may also have educational requirements. Certification is also an option for workers in this field. Arabic translators can work in a variety of settings, including from home, and for public or private sectors.

Essential Information

Arabic translators are highly-skilled bilingual individuals that translate written documents from one language to another. Some work from home, while others work for government or private organizations. This job requires fluency in Arabic and at least one other language; additionally, many employers expect candidates to hold a bachelor's degree. The American Translators Association offers optional certifications for this career.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Additional Requirements Arabic fluency; voluntary certification is available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 29% (interpreters and translators)
Median Salary (2015)* $44,190 annually (interpreters and translators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arabic Translator Job Description

Arabic translators examine written documents for meaning and recreate this meaning in another language, such as Arabic to English or vice versa. Most translators work with their native tongue as the target language; therefore, bilingual Arabic speakers will translate into or out of Arabic depending on which is their mother tongue. Translators should be familiar with the many types of translation, such as idiomatic and literal.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that freelance translators who work from home via the internet typically complete translation work. Arabic translators may also be able to find jobs in government bodies, such as the Army or FBI, who often need translators versed in various dialects. Translators sometimes specialize in fields ranging from technical, including medical and scientific, to literary. Areas of specialization will determine any extra vocabulary or comprehension knowledge needed.

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Education Requirements for Arabic Translators

Arabic translators need to be completely fluent in Arabic and at least one other language. Fluency and experience can be sufficient qualifications for finding a job; however, the BLS notes, many employers require translators to have a bachelor's degree. Potential translators may choose to earn a degree in Arabic or Arabic studies, or they may choose to study their desired translation specialty, such as literary translation. Translators who wish to become highly specialized may pursue a master's degree in Arabic. Other translation avenues include internships and apprenticeships.

Translators need to keep pace with the fluid nature of languages. Continuing education is available through online courses, conferences and college-sponsored training programs. Organizations devoted to professional enhancement such as the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) help translators keep up with current developments. Translation professionals can also become certified through the American Translators Association (ATA). After satisfying a mix of education and experience requirements, an Arabic translator can pass an exam to become a certified translator from Arabic to English or English to Arabic.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2015, translators and interpreters earned an annual median salary of $44,190, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projected much faster than average job growth of 29% for interpreters and translators in general between 2014 and 2024. High demand was expected for Arabic and various Middle Eastern languages, in addition to East Asian languages.

Arabic translators have the opportunity to work for the government, including the Army or FBI, or as freelance translators. They must be fluent in Arabic and one other language and be familiar with different types of translation. Employers may often also require a bachelor's degree.

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