How to Become a Finnish Translator: Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a Finnish translator. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in Finnish translation.

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Should I Become a Finnish Translator?

Finnish translators convert text from Finnish into another language or vice versa. They typically communicate at native or near-native fluency in Finnish and the other language or languages in which they work. They work with written materials in areas as varied as diplomatic service or business documents, literary works and even online gaming text. Roughly 20% of all translators are self-employed, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job can sometimes involve travel and stressful situations.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Finnish/Scandinavian studies, translation studies, other specialized fields
Certification Not required but helps demonstrate skills
Experience Required; gain experience via study abroad, volunteering
Key Skills In-depth knowledge of Finnish, excellent communication skills, good concentration
Salary (2014) $43,590 yearly (median for all interpreters and translators)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET OnLine

Step 1: Obtain a Degree

A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum education requirement to become a Finnish translator. Depending on a student's personal experience and career goals, a number of educational pathways are available. Aspiring Finnish translators might pursue a program in general translation studies, Scandinavian studies (in which Finnish language courses are included) or Finnish language and culture. Whether a student already speaks Finnish might influence the degree field he or she chooses.

Step 2: Become Immersed in the Language

Learning to translate from English to Finnish and back requires more than just knowledge of the language. A translator also must understand the culture of the language, the difference in dialects and use of idiomatic phrases. These skills are gained from immersion in the culture and acquired by living among the Finnish people and using the Finnish language. Students can gain this experience through a study-abroad program. Reading extensively in Finnish also can help deepen experience with the language.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

Performing hands-on translating work is a key step in becoming a full-fledged Finnish translator. Some employers require candidates to have a minimum of translation experience. According to the BLS, this experience can be gained through volunteering, an internship or an apprenticeship.

Step 4: Participate in a Mentorship

In addition to formal experience, the BLS reported that participation in a mentorship can offer aspiring translators the opportunity to further hone their skills. A mentoring relationship allows for a novice Finnish translator to practice while working under the supervision of a professional translator, who may be a formal mentor or a colleague willing to undertake the role.

Step 5: Become Certified

Becoming certified attests to a translator's language proficiency. The American Translators Association (ATA) offers a test that rates the translator's ability to convert material from English into Finnish. This Certified Translator credential is intended for ATA members who can show proof of appropriate education and experience in translation, which the association considers necessary to pass the examination.

Additionally, if performing a specific kind of translation is the goal, a specialized, non-language degree such as accounting, law, finance or engineering might be most appropriate. If a Finnish translator would like to concentrate in a particular field, earning a master's degree might be valuable.

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