Online Interpreter Certification and Certificate Programs

Jan 16, 2020

Interpreting certificates are not offered fully online because interpreting requires real-time communication. However, students interested in multilingual careers may pursue an online certificate in translation focusing on written communication. Read this article to get info about online programs in translation. Learn about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career and continuing education options.

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  • 0:00 Essential Information
  • 0:50 Certificate in Translation
  • 1:44 List of Common…
  • 2:40 Career Information for…
  • 3:03 Continuing Education…

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Essential Information

Program Levels Certificate
Field(s) of Study Translation or interpreting
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent; fluency in English and other desired language
Format Online and hybrid programs for translation; on-site for interpreting
Program Length Approximately 6 months
Licensure/Certification Voluntary certification available
Median Annual Salary (2018) $49,930 (for interpreters and translators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

While certificate programs in interpreting aren't usually offered online because of the real-time interaction that's required, programs focusing on translation are fairly common. A certificate program typically addresses English and Spanish translations. However, programs are offered for translating Arabic, Chinese, Russian, French and German.

Translation programs can be online-only or a combination of on-campus and online courses. The certificate programs can usually be completed in six months. Certification is not required for translators, but professionals can increase their chances of employment by earning an advanced certificate that qualifies them to take the American Translators Association (ATA) certification exam.

Certificate in Translation

Both interpreting and translating certificate programs require fluency in English and Spanish for admission. Candidates for an online translation certificate are screened through a telephone interview or written essay to demonstrate bilingual fluency. Coursework covers skills such as comparative analysis between two languages, editing procedures, and the translation process.

Information and Requirements

In a translation certificate program, students conduct online research for assignments, engage in online discussions and submit translations as assigned by the instructor. Courses are administered to students through an online course management system such as Moodle. Students have access to assignments and research sources anytime of the day or night.

List of Common Interpreter Certification Courses

After an initial assessment test on the language combination chosen for study, students begin the program with an introductory course on translation theory. Translation assignments include material such as academic texts, business proposals, and medical and legal documents.

Introduction to Translation Theory

Fundamental courses in translation include translation ethics, types of translation and the history of translation. Students are introduced to the use of translation in legal, medical and financial businesses.

Medical and Legal Translation

Research in medical terminology and legal terms prepare students for proper translations. Topics in the medical field include patient education and drug development. Legal areas discussed include corporate tax liability and litigation.

Financial Translation

Sentence structure and grammar in business and financial terminology is the focus of this course. Proper translation in the target language is necessary so financial transactions are executed in the proper sequence. Students study topics in credit, stock market and securities and financial annual reports.

Career Information for Graduates

The need for professional interpreters is increasing as companies expand business overseas. Graduates with a translation certificate can find employment in government agencies, advertising and publishing companies and education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median wage of $49,930 for interpreters and translators in May 2018 (

Continuing Education Information

Translators looking to branch into interpreting can take weekend, evening, or intensive short-term certificate programs at community colleges and universities.

Interpreting programs are not common online; however, translation programs are available online and offer a well rounded knowledge of medical, legal and financial education for various potential careers.

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