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Top 5 Translation & Interpreting Schools

More Training Means More Opportunities


With increasing globalization and inextricably linked economies, cross-lingual communication has become a ubiquitous part of most companies’ daily operations. Statistics support this conclusion. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that between 2016 to 2026, the rate of employment for interpreters and translators will jump by a staggering 18%.

Aspiring translators and interpreters are chomping at the bit to capitalize on these opportunities, but often struggle to distinguish themselves from their peers. Passing a company-administered translation test as part of a job interview is one thing; getting an interview in the first place is quite another. To maximize the chances of passing the former and being invited for the latter, many translators and interpreters are taking certificate-granting courses to enhance both their skills and their résumés.

Obviously, some programs are better than others in terms of instruction quality, cost, accessibility, and convenience. Sifting through an interminable list of Google results for the perfect program is exhausting, so below, we’ve given you five good options for online courses in translation and interpreting.

1. Ureed Academy

If you live in the MENA region, Ureed is a wonderful choice. The region’s primary platform for connecting customers with freelancers who provide a wide range of linguistic services, Ureed has established a reputation as a champion of balanced bilingualism and quality translation. Now, Ureed is expanding its services to teaching. On October 1st of this year, in partnership with St. Joseph University in Lebanon, the company launched Ureed Academy. Its online courses and modules are designed for those who want to improve their translation skills. One of the best aspects of this academy is that it offers both general and highly specific courses. For instance, if you are interested in medical translation, you could pursue a certificate in that subfield. At a fairly cheap price, Ureed Academy gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

2. University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies, Online Language and Translation Courses

This well-established Canadian institution has a decent variety of high-quality courses to prepare you for translating to and from English into five powerhouse languages: Modern Standard Arabic, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. A 2-hour lesson is conducted on a weekly basis in a virtual classroom, complete with an online instructor and classmates. OLT courses also include an interactive webinar and course learning platform. An attractive option, it is, admittedly, a little pricey, so if you enroll, make sure you can commit.

3. The Open University, Postgraduate Certificate in Translation

With pay-per-module layout, the Open University’s postgraduate certificate in translation is a good way to show employers that you have the practical skills necessary to produce high-quality translation. Like the University of Toronto, the Open University’s offerings are fairly varied, including French, German, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. The Open University provides a multitude of resources, including access to its library, podcasts, videos, downloads, and additional course materials. One of the largest undergraduate universities in the U.K., this program comes with the advantage of brand recognition.

4. University of Massachusetts-Amherst, College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Online Certificate in Translating and Interpreting

Students who are already highly proficient in English and another language should consider enrolling in the University of Massachusetts’s online certificate in translating and interpreting program. The 15-credit hour program will put you in the classroom with students from around the world. Consequently, the focus is on more than just linguistic skills; instructors also cover the different linguistic and cultural considerations and strategies that accompany translation and interpreting. Language specialists provide personalized feedback on oral and written work. You have the option of supplementing these shared courses with individual ones, should you desire. Such flexibility allows you to ensure that your curriculum is tailor-made to help you achieve your goals.

5. Nanjing University via Coursera, Translation in Practice

For those would-be translators who are strapped for cash, this program is a good option and will equip you with basic translation skills without breaking the bank. 3-5 hours a week for a month and a half, this course is ideal for English-to-Mandarin and Mandarin-to-English translators who want to see if translation is the right discipline for them. The course also includes lessons on how to account for culture and history when translating in different genres.

Just as learning a language is a radically different experience for each person, sharpening your skills as a translator and/or interpreter requires a customized approach. As such, it’s critical that your pick be compatible with your learning style, meet your goals, and accommodate your financial and time constraints. Choosing a program may seem like a daunting task, but if you do your homework, you will find the right one. After all, you’re spoiled for choice.