Translation qualifications

UK Translation Qualifications: What do you need to know?

If you’re looking for a job in translation, here’s an overview of the qualifications that are recognised by companies in the UK.

Currently, there is no single regulatory body that oversees the UK translation industry. That means there are a number of different translation qualifications out there you can work towards. However, not all formal translation qualifications are equal, so it pays to know exactly which certificates carry the most weight with employers and are the strongest indicator of your linguistic competence.

For example, what’s the difference between an MA in Translation Studies and an MSc in Translating? From an employer’s point of view, would it be worth paying more for an individual with a BA in Translation Studies or a Diploma in Translation? We hope to clear all that up.

1. Diploma in Translation (DipTrans)

The main difference between a Diploma in Translation and a BA, MA or PhD is that it is a vocational qualification, which means it is more focused on preparing new translators and those already working in the industry for the challenges they will face at work.

The Diploma in Translation is a postgraduate qualification intended for those who have already reached a level of linguistic competence at least equivalent to a good honours degree, and who now want to embark on a career in translation.

The course will typically last for around 29 weeks and is available through the Chartered Institute of Linguists. Importantly, it is widely recognised both in the UK and overseas.

2. BA Translation Studies

As a starting point for someone who wants to pursue translation professionally, the BA in Translation is a solid choice. Applicants will need two to three A-levels at grades C and higher as a minimum, although it could be considerably higher depending on the university you apply to. Mature students with professional experience may also be accepted onto the course regardless of their academic qualifications.

This qualification takes the form of a typical degree programme, with theory and in-depth practical lessons, coursework and examinations, and can also include placements for on-the-job skills development. It is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Linguistics and the Institute of Language Educational Trust.

3. BA Translation and Interpreting with Modern Languages

This three or four-year course sees students choose two languages and develop their skills to the point where they are able to develop sophisticated arguments in both languages. It also includes either a semester or a full year spent studying abroad, as well as practical and theory lessons to build up linguistic proficiency.

The entry requirements are typically higher for this course than the BA in Translation Studies, with applicants to most universities needing three A-levels at grade B and above.

4. MA Translation Studies

This one-year full-time course, or two-year course for those who want to study part-time, is well suited to linguists who want to fine-tune their skills before entering a career in translation or engaging in further academic research and study. It’s also a good fit for those already working as professional translators who want to gain a formal qualification.

Most universities have an entry requirement of an upper second-class honours degree or equivalent for international applicants and the course currently costs £6,525 for UK students.

5. MSc Translating

Students taking this one-year full-time or two-year part-time course will translate between English and either one or two foreign languages. The course covers practical translating and the role of technology in translation. It also develops students’ analytical skills to help them solve translation problems and master the techniques required to translate at a professional level.

The course costs around £6,770 and requires an upper second-class honours degree or equivalent.

6. PhD in Translation Studies

Those with a merit or distinction in a postgraduate translation qualification may be eligible to complete a PhD if they want to carry out academic research or further studies. PhD students work with university staff to progress their individual research projects and ultimately achieve the highest level of academic qualification open to UK translators.

The course typically takes three years, although six-year part-time courses may be available.

Ready to put your translation qualifications to the test?

Whether you have a formal translation qualification or are simply looking for a job that makes the most of your linguistic skills, we can help. We find well-paid roles across the English South Coast.

Take a look at our current vacancies or send us your CV today.