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Become a Portuguese Translator: Career Guide

Find out how to become a Portuguese translator in this video. Discover the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in Portuguese translation.

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Should I Become a Portuguese Translator?

Portuguese translators help convert the Portuguese language into other languages, such as English. They mainly work with written materials and often send and receive work electronically.

Translators are typically self-employed, and they can make their own hours and work from many locations, including their homes. Translators and interpreters of all types are in demand, and job prospects are generally quite good. Translators may work on deadlines, which can cause stress. Additionally, work for self-employed translators can be intermittent.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level A bachelor's degree is generally required
Degree Field Portuguese could be useful, but any degree field could qualify an individual for translator work as long as he or she is fluent in Portuguese
Certification Optional certification is available through the American Translators Association
Experience Translation experience is recommended, but requirements may vary
Key Skills Fluency in Portuguese and at least one other language, strong oral and written communication skills, critical thinking, active listening capabilities, attention to detail, knowledge of Microsoft Office and other related software, a thorough understanding of the culture and customs of the languages being translated, and schedule flexibility
Salary (2014) $43,590 (Median for all translators and interpreters)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; O*Net OnLine; Job postings (August 2015)

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is strongly recommended for a Portuguese translator. Majoring in Portuguese allows for deeper understanding of the language and culture. Bachelor's degree programs typically offer courses in conversation, grammar and composition, Portuguese-speaking cultures, stylistics, science and technology, history and language theory. These courses help students develop the ability to translate complex concepts from Portuguese to English. However, a bachelor's degree in Portuguese specifically is not mandatory for translators. If an individual is fluent in Portuguese, a bachelor's degree in any area of study could be enough.

Success Tips:

  • Live the language. Translators must be fully fluent in Portuguese, including idiomatic expressions, and must have extensive cultural familiarity. Speaking the Portuguese language on a regular basis is necessary to be a translator. Practicing speaking skills with other students and faculty may be helpful for Portuguese students.
  • Participate in a study abroad program. Visiting Portuguese-speaking countries can help aspiring Portuguese translators to immerse themselves in the language. Many schools offer study abroad opportunities to students who wish to gain language skills and a greater understanding of Portuguese culture.
  • Get involved in special events. Colleges and universities offering degree programs in Portuguese may also have a calendar of special events and lectures involving Portuguese-speaking cultures. These events may be conducted in Portuguese or English, and pertain to a variety of subjects. Attending events and lectures may also give students a chance to connect with other students and faculty who share their interest in Portuguese language and culture.

Step 2: Choose a Career Route and Gain Experience

Portuguese translators have a number of career routes available to them. Some may decide to specialize in a particular field, such as legal, medical or business translation, while other may choose to work for publishing companies, translating written material into the Portuguese language. Others options for employment are government or community organizations.

Many agencies prefer to hire translators with extensive experience within their respective languages. Portuguese translators can gain experience in a variety of ways. Volunteer work may be available for Portuguese translators; they may find opportunities at hospitals and sporting events where there are Portuguese speakers. They may do informal work or even translate text for practice.

Success Tips:

  • Compile samples of translation work. Keeping a portfolio of translation work can be beneficial for translators seeking to gain experience. Any type of samples, even of work completed for practice, may help translators find new opportunities.
  • Join a professional organization. Translators may choose to join professional associations devoted to translation and language. Membership benefits typically include professional networking opportunities and access to industry publications. Some organizations may also offer mentoring programs for translators.

Step 3: Consider Certification

Certification is not required for Portuguese translators, but earning certification indicates dedication, skill and experience to potential employers. Translators may choose to earn certification from the American Translators Association (ATA). In order to become an ATA-Certified Translator (CT), applicants must meet certain education and experience requirements and successfully complete examinations. The examination consists of three passages covering subjects such as business, science and finance. Two of these passages must be translated. CT's can keep their credentials current by completing 20 continuing education credits every three years.

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