OFO No: 264302





Other names for Translator:

  • Subtitler
  • Translator-revisor



Youtube clip – The Career of a Translator

For training options in South Africa – scroll down


What is a Translator?

Are you bilingual or trilingual?

Do you have a love of languages and a flair for linguistics (the study of human languages)? Then a career as a Translator might interest you.

Translators put written, oral or sign language text into one or more languages, keeping the message the same.

Fields of translation:

  • Commercial translation

Documents for the business sector including correspondence, reports, accounts, and tenders

  • Legal translation

 Legal documents, such as contracts and treaties. Translators can also work for the courts system

  • Literary translation

 Novels, poems, plays, and non-fiction literature

  • Media translation

 Press material for newspapers, magazines, blogs, media websites, etc

  • Medical translation

 Medical books, medicine instructions, manuals for medical equipment, etc. Mis-translation in the medical field can have serious consequences, so accuracy in extremely important!

  • Technical translation

IT documents such as owner’s manuals, user guides, technical instructions, etc.

What does a Translator do?

  • listens to tape of recorded conversations, translates and transcribes
  • listens to live conversations or speeches and translates phrase by phrase trying not to lose context or style being conveyed
  • reads and translates documents (technical, medical etc)
  • proofreads and edits translated materials
  • liaises with clients to ensure points, nuances, and context are communicated exactly and clearly
  • follows ethical codes to protect the confidentiality of the information that they are translating
  • identifies conflicts that might arise in relation to the meanings of words, concepts, practices or behaviours and being able to resolve them
  • translates messages simultaneously into specified language, orally or by using hand signs, ensuring that the message content, context and style remain the same
  • checks accuracy!

Are you … ?

  • proficient in more than one language?
  • a lover of languages?
  • good a grammar, spelling etc?
  • an active listener?
  • accurate?
  • an excellent communicator?
  • good at memorizing information?
  • able to communicate ideas effectively and clearly in writing?
  • computer literate?
  • good at comprehension?
  • detail orientated?

How do I become a Translator?


There are various ways to train to become a Translator.

Here are some options:

  • A National Diploma, BTech and MTech can be done at some universities of technology.
  • A Bachelors of Arts in either Applied Languages, Translations Studies or Linguistics can be done at numerous universities. See list below. Further studies like Masters or Doctorate can also be done.
  • A Bachelor of Arts in Court Interpreting can be done through UNISA.


  • CLICK HERE to check for a training institution near you to see what they offer.
  • Make sure you understand their entry requirements for each course.
  • To avoid scamsmake sure your institution is registered with the Department of Higher Education. 
  • CLICK HERE to check accredited Private Higher Education Institutions. 


OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER: Script Writer … or … Copywriter

Is becoming a Translator the right career choice for me?