Spanish Translator Degree and Licensure Information

Spanish translators are responsible for translating written words from Spanish into English and vice versa. Individuals interested in Spanish and translation may consider undergraduate or graduate degrees in Spanish.

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Essential Information

A minimum 4-year bachelor's degree is required for most entry-level careers in Spanish translation. Master's and doctorate degrees in Spanish will then allow you to further your expertise and assist with translating more complex items, and conduct in-depth research into Hispanic culture. Programs vary in length according to the program level, and some online courses and programs are available. Translators are not required to obtain licensure, although certification options are available.

Applicants need a high school diploma and high standardized test scores. A background in Spanish is also helpful for the bachelor's program. A bachelor's degree in Spanish and GRE scores are required for the master's program. Applicants for the doctoral program must hold a master's degree, near-native fluency in Spanish and reading knowledge of a third language.

Bachelor's Degree in Spanish Translation

As a translator, you'll take text in one language and convert it to another language, i.e. Spanish to English or English to Spanish. Since translators work only with the written word, it is essential you have a strong background in the language you translate. Often a degree in translation is offered with coursework in interpretation (deals with the spoken language).

In the field of translation, a bachelor's degree is usually required, and you may enroll in a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Spanish Translation. You'll hone your translation skills as well as take classes in translation theory.

You'll learn to read, write and converse in the Spanish language. A school may encourage you to take courses in a country where Spanish is the primary language in order to become more proficient in the language and to gain an understanding of the Hispanic culture. Courses that you may take towards a bachelor's in Spanish translation include:

  • Elementary Spanish
  • Intermediate Spanish
  • Spanish grammar
  • Spanish reading
  • Spanish composition

Master's Degree in Spanish Translation

When you seek a graduate degree in Spanish translation, you'll usually work in specialized areas where a master's degree is necessary. A graduate degree in Spanish translation builds on the fundamentals of translation learned at the undergraduate level. You may take courses in research skills for translators, computer-assisted translation and terminology and software localization (translation and adaptation of a software product to a foreign market).

A Master of Arts in Spanish Translation degree will prepare you to translate technical texts, such as medical or legal documents. Courses can include:

  • Written translation
  • Translation theory
  • Scientific translation
  • Legal translation
  • Medical translation

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Ph.D. in Translation

When you enroll in a doctorate in Spanish translation, you'll generally go into research and research informed-translation. The curriculum involved in a doctorate in Spanish translation can include the history, cultural and philosophical study of Hispanic culture in different parts of the world.

A doctorate degree in translation usually requires completion of research and a dissertation on the results. Courses may be required in cultural studies and the analysis of Hispanic culture. Coursework may also include:

  • Translation assessment
  • Translation studies
  • Translation history
  • Language and cultural studies
  • Language theory

Popular Career Options

After graduating, you'll be prepared to work as a translator in almost any career field. Spanish translators are needed in order to translate written documents from Spanish to English in fields like:

  • Finance
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Computer science
  • Tourism

After graduating from a master's program, you may work as a translator in the areas of medicine, finance or engineering. Careers in which a master's in translation is necessary include:

  • Medical translator
  • Scientific translator
  • Legal translator
  • Literary translator
  • Business translator

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts jobs for translators and interpreters will increase by 29% from 2014-2024. The BLS found that translators and interpreters made a median wage of $44,190 in 2015. Employer, education, experience and language are factors that may influence wages.

Continuing Education

Translators are not required to obtain licensure. However, the American Translators Association offers a certification program. You must have a combination of education and a certain number of years work experience in order to take the exam. Once certification is obtained, continuing education requirements must be fulfilled in order to maintain certification.

Students interested in becoming Spanish translators or interpreters can earn a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate in the field. Graduates can expect positive job growth and pursue voluntary certification.

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