Translation requires the individual to accurately convey the meaning of the written words from one language to another.  They 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 countries such as South Africa.

Translators predominantly work with business, technical, legal and scientific written materials including letters, reports, articles, books etc.  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 includes writing and editin copies, preparing summaries, consulting clients and developing contacts and using translation computer programs.

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.

They need to be able to work to deadlines, have a good general knowledge, fluency in at least two languages and IT skills.

Personal Requirements

  • excellent command of languages
  • able to grasp complex and subtle concepts in one language and convey them effectively in another language
  • versatile mind capable of switching with ease from one field of knowledge to another
  • well informed on topical questions in political, economic, educational, social, scientific and technological fields
  • wide range of interests
  • perfectionist
  • ability to work alone


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

Getting Started

  • hone your language skills and practise translating written texts into other languages and interpreting by listening to radio programmes in other languages
  • arrange to speak to translators about this career


Boston City Campus and Business College does not offer a programme that leads directly to this occupation. Please take a look at the related occupations below to see whether any of these appeal to you. Alternately, please send an email to and a Student Advisor will call you back.

Related Occupations

A PACE Career Centre Product. © All rights reserved | Developed by Netgen (Pty) Ltd. Disclaimer: Please see disclaimer