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.


  • 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


Accra Polytechnic, Central University of Technology, College of Intergrated Healthcare, Durban University of Technology , Egerton University, Gideon Roberts University, Great Zimbabwe University, Gretsa University, Institute of Applied Sciences, International Leadership University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenyatta University, Kibabii University, Kibogora Polytechnic, Kwame Nkrumah University, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Lesotho College of Education, Lukenya University, Machakos University College, Marian University College, Marist International University College, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Methodist University College Ghana, Moi University, Mount Kenya University, Namibia University of Science and Technology, National University of Lesotho, North-West University, Open University of Tanzania, Presbyterian University College, Presbyterian University of East Africa, Pwani University College, Riara University, Rongo University College, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Solusi University, South Eastern Kenya University, St Paul's University, Stefano Moshi Memorial University College, Tangaza University College, Tshwane University of Technology, Tumaini University Makumira, University of Botswana, University of Cape Coast, University of Eastern Africa Baraton, University of Education Winneba, University of Ghana, University of Johannesburg, University of Limpopo, University of Mauritius, University of Nairobi, University of Namibia, University of Pretoria, University of Rwanda, University of South Africa, University of Stellenbosch, University of Swaziland, University of the Free State, University of the Western Cape

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