Translator Qualifications: 3 Essentials To Get Started

  • Time to read: 6 min.

As an affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Anyone can be a professional translator with the right translator qualifications.

That means that you can be a professional translator.

Now, that doesn’t mean you will be one.

It doesn’t mean that becoming a translator will be easy for you.

It just means what it says. Anyone can become a translator if they are willing to work for it, they get a bit lucky, and take advantage of the opportunities that come their way.

Now, if you want to become a translator, there are some things you need to start with.

Ignore these and your chances of success will not be very high.

Improve yourself in these qualifications and your ability to success as a freelance translator will grow.

Translator Qualifications

Not all of these translation skills are language-related.

For good reason.

Becoming successful at any endeavor takes more than just the natural skills associated with that activity. The same is true for translation work and the written word.

An Attitude of Success

An Attitude of Success

This is the very first qualification need to be a translator.

It doesn’t matter what kind of “attitude” it is, as long as it will keep you striving towards success.

Some people believe in having a positive attitude.

Others think that having an abundance attitude is the key.

Yet others say you should have an obsessive attitude about what you want to pursue.

Any one of those will work. A combination of them will also work.

Other attitudes that lead to success are also acceptable.

Figure out what drives you. Understand the type of attitude you need to have to drive you in the direction you want to go. Know why you want to become a translator. And then use that attitude to fuel your desire to work in the translation industry.

Language Skills

language skills

You definitely need to know two languages in order to be a translator. I get emails every once in a while from people who want to become translators but they only speak one language.

They proceed to ask how they can become translators.

It’s kinda obvious, right?

Learn another language and become fluent in it.

What I’ve found in my own translating, and in speaking with many translators, is that most people who want to become translators overestimate the language level they need to be at in order to become professionals.

Remember this.

You don’t need to be perfect in two languages in order to be a professional translator. There are no “industry standards” for level of language knowledge or how many words your know in your native language, target language, or source language.

To be a good translator, you need to be competent in your language combinations. Language study and practice will get you where you need to be. You don’t need specialized training in your language combination.

In fact, I would say that you need to be slightly more competent in your target language (native language) than you do your source language (foreign language).

So, for example, say you know Spanish and English and that you want to translate mostly into English. Then your English skills need to be better than your Spanish skills.

The reason is because for most translators, outputting language in the form of a translation is harder than understanding the original language, usually.

And the output is what your client will see.

Your output (or finished translation) is what your client will judge you on. If it’s good, you’ll be hired again. If your output reads like trash, you won’t be asked back.

Here are some stories of what it’s like to work in translation.

A Platform for Your Translation Services

A Platform for Your Translation Services

You need a way to showcase who you are.

Your clients (and potential clients) need to know how to find you.

Long gone are the days when people that needed a translator opened up the yellow pages to find one.

Most people these days probably don’t even know what the yellow pages were.

If you don’t, let me explain. They were basically directories of business listings divided up alphabetically by industry or job title.

So if you were a translator, you could submit your business listing to the Yellow Pages for inclusion in the “translators” section. The idea was that when a potential client was in need of a translator, he would grab the Yellow Pages, flip over to the “translator” section, and then search through the translator listings until he found one to contact.

Luckily, technology has allowed us to nearly completely abandon this practice.

Now, instead of relying on a phone directory to put you in touch with clients, you can reach out to them directly through your own platform.

And here, when I talk about having your own platform, I mean one of two things: either your own social media account(s) tied directly to your translation business or your own website.

Preferably both.

However, if you’re going to choose one, I’d choose a website.

A website is yours. You own the domain name. When you buy the name and hosting, you have control on what you want to write, what you want to share, and how you want to come across. Your written communications are your own

With social media, you can do those things as well; however, you don’t have complete control over your account. If the social media company doesn’t like what you post or if people complain, they can get rid of you and delete your account without even talking to you. Unfortunately, this has happened to professional translators in the past.


Becoming a translator is not as difficult as you might think. With the right translator qualifications, you can get started in the industry and begin on your career path. All you need is to be competent in two languages, have a platform to showcase your work, and be able to deliver quality translations. With these things, you can be on your way to becoming a successful translator.

FAQ – Translator Qualifications for a Professional Translator

What qualifications do you need to be a translator?

In order to be a translator, you need to be competent in your native and second language, have a platform to showcase your work, and be able to deliver quality translations in a specific industry.

How do I become a translator?

The best way to become a translator and get job opportunities is to get started in the industry and begin building your career. Look for opportunities to showcase your work, and take on projects that will help you build your skills. As you gain experience, you can begin to specialize in certain areas and markets.

Can you be a translator without a degree?

Yes, you can be a translator without a bachelor’s degree. There are many successful translators who have not pursued formal translation education in the field. As long as you are competent in two languages and can deliver quality translations, you can be a successful translator.

Does a translator need to be certified?

No, a translator does not need to be certified in order to be successful. However, certification from an organization like the American Translators Association can help you stand out from the crowd and show potential clients that you are a competent and qualified translator.

What is the best way to market myself as a translator?

The best way to market yourself as a translator is to create a platform where you can showcase your work. This can be done through social media or by creating your own website. By creating a platform, you can reach out to potential clients such as translation agencies and show them what you can do.