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Pathways to translation

Becoming a professional translator takes more than speaking two languages. Professional translators are highly trained and need to master certain key skills:

Translation skills

  • Excellent command of your native language
  • Excellent writing skills in your native language
  • Very good knowledge of one or more foreign languages
  • A comprehensive understanding of the cultures of your foreign languages. This often includes living in the country of your foreign language for an extended period
  • An awareness of approaches to translation and knowledge of translation theory
  • Familiarity with computer assisted translation (CAT) tools and terminology management
  • Expertise in one or more specialised fields
  • Good time management, an eye for detail and the ability to work under pressure

Translation training

Many translators enter the profession after graduating from university, usually with a degree in language followed by a post-graduate degree in translation studies. Such qualifications can help translators stand out in the competitive market. A list of translation courses offered in New Zealand can be found here.

Although an advantage, a degree in translation is not required to enter the profession since the general title of “translator” is not protected. Some practitioners also become translators after working in a specialised, non-linguistic field and having been exposed to a bilingual environment in that field for a long time.

Translating in New Zealand

Compared to some overseas countries with a long history of using translators in institutions such as the European Union or the United Nations, New Zealand offers relatively few in-house positions for translators. The majority of practitioners in New Zealand are self-employed or have founded their own translation company to service national and international clients.

See the job opportunities for translators and more on the page we have prepared together with

Quality is one of NZSTI’s core values. The society therefore offers PD events such as webinars, workshops and the annual conference for its members so they can continuously up-skill.


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