How to become a translator
Study in Translation Sciences|Translatology|Translation Studies


Ways of becoming a translator

The study of translation

Do you want to become a translator? During the study of translation sciences, also known as translatology, future translators not only acquire a particularly well-founded knowledge of at least two languages and associated translation techniques, but above all a very broad general knowledge of art, culture and technology. Translation students are taught these skills at several universities in Europe, each with a slightly different focus.

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The degree programme in Translatology

The Translatology degree programme at a glance


In translation studies it is about the precise transfer of meaning and significance of a text or of a document from one language to another. In addition to linguistic skills, this requires knowledge about the respective contexts of use. Since this can be very different in spoken and written language, a distinction is made between the training courses for translators and interpreters.


However, a high level of language competence is important in both fields of study. Students acquire this in the course of their studies and develop it in a targeted manner. The goal is to master two languages at native-speaker level. At the end of the degree programme, students will then speak the chosen languages at the level of C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in the best case. As a rule, English is the basic language or source language and is referred to as the A language. The first foreign language chosen is the B language, further languages are called C languages.


The Master's programmes at the University of Leipzig and the Cologne University of Applied Sciences bear the "EMT European Masters in Translation" seal of quality from the Directorate-General for Translation of theEU Commission. In addition, there are similar degree programmes at some other universities that train students to become translators. These bear course titles such as Translation Studies or Specialised Translation.


In addition to linguistic and cultural competences, students are also taught knowledge in areas such as technology and service competence. Translatology can be studied in Germany in Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes. Some related degree programmes such as Specialised Communication or Applied Linguistics also impart competences in the field of translation. However, translation studies focuses specifically on the transfer of texts from one language to another.


In addition to a university entrance qualification such as the A-levels, prospective students usually have to prove language skills in the chosen languages. Some universities require certain exams or certificates for this, for example the DSH exam for German for foreign students or the TOEFL test for English. Depending on the university, these must be in the B or C range of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages at the beginning of the degree programme.


For a Master's degree in translation studies, students must also provide proof of a professionally qualifying university degree, i.e. usually a previously completed Bachelor's degree. However, this does not necessarily have to be a translatology bachelor's degree, although this is certainly an advantage. For example, at the University of Leipzig, an aptitude test is also added directly at the university when applying for the degree programme.

Translation studies


Depending on the degree programme, students choose one or two foreign languages. At some universities, combinations with other subjects, for example linguistics or political science, are also possible. Universities often offer German, French or Spanish, but some universities also offer special translation courses for languages such as Arabic, Chinese or Russian. Here, too, knowledge of the respective languages is often one of the admission requirements.


In this video you can see a field report by students of the BA Translation at the University of Leipzig. Typical courses in the six-semester Translation degree programme are: Linguistics, General & Special Translatology, Specialised Translation, Regional Studies and Cultural Studies as well as Language Technology or Terminology.