Nowadays, many businesses worldwide must translate and localise products into a host of different languages and cultures, and these tasks require translators who not only have a high level of linguistic skill but who are acquainted with computer-assisted technology and have experience of using a Translation Management System (TMS). More generally, in a highly competitive job market, having a postgraduate degree puts you ahead of the pack, while for those already working in translation, the qualification could transform your career, putting you in line for more responsibility and more money, as a project manager, for example.
In order to reap maximum benefit from your investment, though, it’s important that you choose a course that fits your goals and training needs. There’s a vast array of masters courses available, so the task of finding the right one can be daunting. Here are some things to consider when looking at the many courses on offer:
Is the course offered part-time as well as full-time? A part-time study option allows you to increase your qualifications without giving up your current job.
Does the course contain a balanced mix of theory and practice? You want to be able to understand and justify the many choices you make when translating, but it is also a good idea to develop or further develop translation skills during your course through hands-on translation tasks. Does the course contain other practical elements, such as training in computer-aided translation and terminology management systems? As indicated above, future employers will be looking for translators with experience of these.
Does the course have a cultural component? Culture is an important element of all translation work.
Does the course permit some degree of specialisation? Increasingly, businesses are looking for translators with expertise in one or more areas. There are very few Specialist Translation courses currently available but some courses contain modules in Specialist Translation, which help you discover an area that might interest you. You might also be able to pick up a module in that area in another Department or School (Business, Marketing, Media Studies, etc.) as part of your coursework, and you can usually specialise during the dissertation stage.
Does the course provide work placement opportunities during and/or after the completion of your studies? Students at the University of Stirling, for instance, can complete a work-based dissertation and/or participate in the European Graduate Placement Scheme, which gives you access to a network of internships across Western Europe, either during or after the course.
Does the course prepare you for a higher research degree? This is worth considering when applying for a master’s, as it might be a path you eventually wish to take. And with Translation Studies courses flourishing, there are currently career opportunities in this area.
By Dr Anne Stokes
Centre for Translating, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies
University of Stirling, Scotland, UK.