Becoming an expert in Italian translation requires years of study in both languages. While a college education is not officially a requirement, becoming technically proficient is a necessity. Many schools offer a bachelor's degree with a major or minor in Italian as well as master's degree and certificate programs focusing more specifically on translation.
Bachelor's degree programs in Italian focus on becoming proficient in the spoken and written language and call for a period of study in Italy. Translation certificate programs are not common, especially in Italian, but some schools offer them concurrently with a degree program. Master's degree programs in translation studies are becoming more widely offered, but, once again, programs in Italian are not as common as some other languages.
Having a solid background in English is essential to becoming a translator, so taking a broad range of writing and literature classes in high school is important. While it's not required, having previous Italian experience is helpful. For those entering a program offering a minor in translation studies, there are stricter educational requirements such as a greater level of fluency in Italian before being admitted into the program.
Applicants to certificate programs need to have taken a certain number of semesters in Italian or exhibit strong knowledge of the language, along with strong writing and comprehension skills in English. Master's degree candidates need to demonstrate an understanding and fluency of both Italian and English, so a bachelor's degree including a combination of both language studies is important. Additionally, a background in comparative literature is helpful since students will be translating works of literature.
Bachelor of Arts in Italian
Translators must be able to convey the original feeling of text as opposed to just a word-to-word translation, so it's necessary to be fluent in both English and Italian. Therefore, spending at least a semester abroad, fully immersed in Italian culture and language, is very beneficial. Students wanting to become translators in a particular field, such as comparative literature, engineering or finance should major in those areas and minor in Italian.
Some programs have the opportunity to minor in translation studies, but these applicants should already having a solid background in Italian and seek to focus on translation as a possible career during their undergraduate education. Classes cover reading, writing, and speaking Italian and include classes on Italian culture. Some class topics include the following:
- Italian conversation
- Italian literature
- Italian composition
- Advanced language and literature
- Italian cinema
- Translation studies
Certificate Program in Italian Translation Studies
Some certificate programs are taken concurrently with a student's undergraduate education and some are offered as graduate certificates. While not all translation certificate programs are available for those looking to specifically translate Italian works, there are still several available.
A certificate will solidify a bilingual student's ability to translate a piece of writing into another language. Additionally, the American Translators Association (ATA) offers certification for translators wishing to translate documents from English into Italian (www.atanet.org). Classes include an array of translation techniques as well as courses on theories for translating texts about business, literature and other topics. Here are some possible classes:
- History of Italian translation
- Techniques in Italian translation
- Italian poetry and translation
- Translation in practice
- Computer-assisted and technical translation
- Intercultural communication
Master of Arts in Translation Studies
A few schools in the United States are beginning to offer master's degrees in translation studies. These degrees do not focus on Italian, but they offer opportunities for each student to specialize in translation to and from a particular language. However, such programs are still rare, and students find degree programs in Italian studies are a more accessible option.
Translation studies degree programs concentrate more on comparative literature than on other textual genres. Students are required to translate a literary text from one language into another. They will learn to fully comprehend a text in its original language, and successfully translate it to a second language by using theories of translation. Classes focus mainly on translation theory, as it is expected students will already have a thorough understanding of Italian. In addition to a regular course load, student will have an ongoing translation project. Classes include the following:
- Theories of translation
- Comparative literature
- Writing and translation
- Topics in international literature
- Great Italian writers
Those with only an undergraduate degree will probably need to go through a translation program offered by their employers. Medical and legal translation jobs often offer these programs. Possible careers may include the following:
- Healthcare translator
- Legal translator
- Freelance translator
Those with a graduate degree will have greater opportunities for higher-level job positions. Possible career options include the following:
- Corporate project manager
- Government linguist
- Quality assurance manager
- Translation instructor
- Literary translator
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated that employment for translators and interpreters would increase by 19%, much faster than average, between the years 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for all interpreters and translators was $49,930 in 2018.
While it can be challenging to find training programs in Italian translation, there are bachelor's degree programs in Italian that allow for in-depth study of the language itself, as well as graduate-level translation studies programs that focus more specifically on bilingual interpretation.