Learn French Translation: Course and Training Program Information

Oct 12, 2019

Essential Information

Undergraduate certificate programs in French translation are open to students with a general knowledge of French and a high school diploma. Students often are working towards a bachelor's degree in French, but many programs are open to any bachelor's degree students or even to non-students. Some programs are available online. These are brief programs that cover basic translation as well as specialized areas such as medical and business translation.

Students may enroll in bachelor's degree programs in French that include courses in translation; however, some schools offer degrees specifically in translation. These programs require four years of study, and students may be required to prove fluency in French before enrolling. Students get a basic background in the written and spoken language, including literature, and study the French culture as well. Students often can choose specialization areas such as advertising, media or computer science. Study abroad may be required.

Graduate certificate students must have bachelor's degrees in French or French translation. The programs consist of just a few courses, and students may be allowed to choose a specialty area such as commerce or medical translation. Students often must complete a comprehensive translation project in order to graduate. Courses in French translation may be available online, depending on the institution.

Undergraduate Certificate in French Translation

Students enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in French and who are considering a career in translation might also consider completing an undergraduate certificate program in French to English translation, which can be completed in tandem.

Students gain an understanding of the theory required for effective, accurate translation skills. Lessons may cover common translation tools and translation techniques for specific audiences or certain types of works, like business communications or literature. A foreign language proficiency test may be required, either as part of the application process or during the program in order to advance to high-level courses. Students may enroll in a certificate program that focuses on French to English translation or translation in general, with an emphasis on working in French.

While a bachelor's degree isn't always required to enroll in an undergraduate certificate program in French translation, a minimum knowledge of French is generally expected; a student may need to take prerequisite courses in the French language before beginning the program. In addition to general translation skills and language-specific translating techniques, students may also learn about the history of France and French culture. Other course topics for this program can include:

  • Basic concepts in translation studies
  • Computer-assisted translation
  • French to English commercial translation
  • French to English medical translation
  • Literary translation
  • French to English technical translation

Bachelor's Degree in French Translation

Options for a bachelor's degree program in French translation may include a Bachelor of Science in Translation or a Bachelor of Arts in French with a specialization such as language and linguistics or translation and literature. Students develop fluency in both oral and written French. Translation practice, completed as a part of the program, can engross a student in the French language and may allow for strong understanding of the culture of French-speaking countries. Some programs may require the prospective student to complete a prerequisite course in French or take a placement test to determine language proficiency at the time of enrollment.

As a part of the program, students may also take courses that aren't intensive to French translation. These types of courses can include the history and literature of French-speaking countries, international relations and political science. Course topics that are specific to French translation may include:

  • Oral French
  • French composition and conversation
  • French phonetics and diction
  • History of the French language
  • Commercial-economic French
  • Advanced translation

Graduate Certificate Programs in French Translation

A graduate certificate program in French translation can assist students who have at least near-native fluency in English and French in developing a stronger understanding of the theory and practice behind French translation. Students may be able to focus on an area of interest or expertise, like business translation. In addition to the coursework, students may also be required to complete a French translation project as a part of the program. Programs may be in translation with a focus on French or in French translation. Concluding exams in translation theory and practice may be required. Online programs may be available.

Students who do not have French translation experience may be required to take a prerequisite course in French or French translation prior to beginning the program. Course topics for a graduate certificate program in French translation can include:

  • Computer-assisted translation
  • French translation concepts and practice
  • Commercial and economic French
  • Commercial and technical translation
  • French translation for professionals
  • French translation theory

Popular Career Options

Students who complete an undergraduate certificate in French translation may seek a career working as a French to English translator in settings such as healthcare, international marketing and law enforcement. Students with bachelor's degrees may pursue careers in translation in the U.S. or abroad with a company that has a location in a French-speaking country, within industries like aviation, education, government or international business and trade. A student may also pursue a career within a nonprofit organization, international agency or related group that is in need of bilingual services. Some jobs may require additional training or licensing. Career options may include:

  • French translator
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Independent translator
  • Bilingual trainer
  • Literary translator

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for interpreters and translators in 2018 was $49,930 ( The BLS also stated that there was expected to be a 19% increase in the number of job openings from 2018-2028, much faster than the average of occupations.

Professional Certification and Continuing Education

Some graduate certificate programs prepare students to sit for the American Translators Association professional certification exam, which requires a minimum of experience and education ( Students who'd like to continue their education in French translation may be interested in earning a graduate degree. While programs in French translation are uncommon, students may pursue a Master of Arts in French or translation or a Ph.D. in Translation Studies.

Bachelor's degree and undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in French translation prepare students to work in the rapidly expanding field of translation and interpretation. Graduates are also prepared to continue in their education if they wish.

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