What they do

Translators convert written texts from one language to another. They study the original text to understand the intended meaning and translate it into the target language in such a way as to maintain the meaning, spirit and feeling of the text. Translators may work on a large assortment of written material, including novels, business letters, legal documents, technical manuals and scientific articles, some of which may be personal or confidential. Some translators may also supply subtitles for films and television programs. 

Working conditions

Translators may work in a variety of settings, including offices, hospitals, courts, libraries, universities and in their own homes. Professional translators usually follow an industry code of conduct to translate accurately, objectively and to maintain confidentiality. They generally work standard business hours, however, evening and weekend work may be required to meet deadlines. Many translators work part-time or on a freelance basis.

Tools and technologies

Translators commonly use computers and word processing programs to write-up their translations. In some cases they may also use specialist computer-aided translation software. They also use foreign language and specialist subject dictionaries to look-up terms they may be unfamiliar with. If translating subtitles for a film or television program they may use dictaphones or video recorders.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a professional translator, you need to be able to read and write in the languages and cultures you wish to work in. In Western Australia, this is usually English and another language. Government agencies are a major contractor for translating services. Most employers will also require you to have completed a qualification in translating.

The Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Translating is available at registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. To find a training provider near you, browse the Jobs and Skills WA website or visit the My Skills website.

The University of Western Australia offers a two-year Master of Translation Studies. Entry to a postgraduate course usually requires successful completion of an appropriate undergraduate degree. This is the only course specialising in translation studies in Western Australia. Contact the university for more information.

Required registration and licensing

You do not need to be certified by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) to work as a translator. However, entry into this occupation will be improved by obtaining a NAATI certification.

In Western Australia, employers such as government agencies prefer to employ translators who can demonstrate they meet these standards.