Education and courses for translators

There are many ways into the language business and the path to becoming a translator is different for each linguist. It is therefore difficult to provide a checklist of things to do to become a translator. However, we can list the most common ones. Above all, you need to have a genuine interest in languages, a meticulous way of working and an eye for detail.

How to become a translator

Translation degree

The academic way into the translation business is to obtain either a bachelor’s (BA) degree in translation alone, or to add a master’s (MA) degree in translation as well. Translation studies contain lectures in language production and different genres (technical, financial, and legal for example), terminology, CAT tools, research methodologies and translation strategies.

Degree in other subjects and experience with translation

There are other ways to become a translator besides taking a degree in translation. It can be relevant for some clients or subjects to be very specialised and have a degree in another field before entering the language business. Examples of this can be legal linguists who are able to translate and communicate heavy legal texts because of their law degree. These linguists are common within organisations such as the European Commission. Other examples might be doctors, nurses and other healthcare personnel, who are skilled at medical translation.

Translation courses and programmes

Below is a list of programmes that will give you a good start in the language business if you wish to become a freelance translator.


BA in international business communication: a three-year bachelor’s degree.

Cand.ling.merc (CLM): a two-year master’s degree with elements of translation in a business context.

There are also various courses you can add to your degree. See, for example: Oversættelse og tværkulturel formidling at Københavns Universitet.

You can also apply to become a member of Translatørforeningen which offers its members courses and activities to support their work as translators.


If you live in Sweden, you can join several different programmes for obtaining a degree within translation.

Here is a link to Translation Studies in Stockholm (bachelor’s and master’s at Stockholm University).

You can also study Master of Arts in Translation at Lund University.


Translation and Professional Communication, master's programme, University of Agder: a fairly new programme open to students with a bachelor’s degree in language or translation or a bachelor’s degree in another field corresponding to relevant 60 ECTS credits.


In Finland you have several options for studies to become a translator. The following universities offer translation degrees: University of Helsinki, University of Turku, University of Tampere and University of Eastern Finland. You can also take a master’s degree in languages in Swedish at Åbo Akademi.

For more exotic languages, you can study a bachelor’s degree in interpretation. University of Applied Sciences Diak offers a community interpretation degree in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Farsi and Turkish, which also includes basic studies in translation.

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