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Translators translate written material from one language into another, ideally from their second language into their first language. The work demands a high level of training and language skill. Translators form vital links in the local and international communications network and play an important role in multilingual countriessuch as South Africa.

Translators usually start by studying the text to be translated. They often have to do research on the contents and background of the text. Translators need to understand the nature of the information in the text well and know where to find additional information on various subjects.

Their work ranges from the written translation of legislation and reports of government commissions to instruction manuals, tourist brochures, company reports, patents, scientific papers, advertisements, educational texts and even literary works.

This means that translators not only need excellent language skills, but also require expertise in various fields. In addition, a potential freelance translator needs good business and marketing abilities to be able to set up a successful business on their own.

Translation is a versatile career, since translators may also qualify to work as language editors, dubbers, interpreters, journalists, copywriters, public relations officers, terminologists or lexicographers.

Satisfying Aspects
- using your linguistic abilities
- rendering an indispensable service
- being responsible for and attaching your name to your own standard of work

Demanding aspects
- translating material which is not familiar to you
- building up a wide general knowledge on many different subjects
- the pressure of adhering to deadlines
- hard work building up clientele as a freelancer
- few people to refer to for advice, if you work on your own
- being solely responsible, in some cases

A translator should:
- have an excellent command of languages;
- be able to grasp complex and subtle concepts in one language and convey them
effectively in another language;
- have a versatile mind capable of switching with ease from any of a number of fields of knowledge to another;
- perfectionist;
- ability to work alone;
- have a wide interest and be well informed on topical questions in political, economic, educational, social, scientific and technological fields.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Two or more languages
Recommended Subjects: History

Degree: BA with at least two languages as major subjects. Language Practitioners - UFS, NWU, LInguistics - UZ, US, Wits. Translation - Wits, UL.

Most translators have a BA degree in Languages, but it is also a good idea to do some courses in Economics, Law, Physical Sciences, etc. to broaden your field of knowledge.

Diploma: Language Practice, Translation - CUT, DUT.

Those wanting appointments as language officers in the Language Service Bureau of the Department of National Education must first pass the Bureau's translation or terminology examinations.

- banks
- advertising agencies
- courts
- parliament and government departments
- translation agencies
- NGOs
- universities
- insurance companies
- self-employment, as free-lance translator

The South African Translators’ Institute
P O Box 1710
Rivonia, 2128
Tel: 079 492-9359 Fax: 086 511 4971