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Do I need a qualification to be a literary translator?
No. There are many postgraduate courses in literary translation (some more theoretical and others more practical) and there are professional qualifications available, but it is rare for a publisher to deem them essential. Indeed, since most courses are relatively newly established, the most experienced translators tend not to have them.
What is essential, however, is that a translator is an exceptionally good and versatile reader in one language, and simultaneously an exceptionally good and versatile writer in another, which is in itself a considerable challenge.
The fact that no one particular qualification is the prerequisite for working as a literary translator is not to say, of course, that there's no value to a would-be translator in the postgraduate study of translation; theoretical study can offer a framework for understanding the process a translator might follow intuitively, and many combine their theoretical work with a practical approach to producing actual translations.
UEA's Master's in Literary Translation, for example, enables the student to explore key theories, helping them to develop new strategies in response to both theoretical reading and practical exercises. An important element of this course is the series of regular workshops which introduce the student to a wide range of practitioners, each with their own field of interest and expertise.  By the end of an intensive year of studies in this programme, the student can expect to have built up skills and confidence and to have a clearer idea as to what is involved in the practice of Literary Translation or, indeed, in the field of Translation Studies.

Gaining some practice and experience is extremely valuable.  This might happen as an internship as part of your studies or you might instigate it yourself by contacting translation offices or cultural institutes to ask for opportunities.

Needless to say, it is a constant learning process.  So continuing to regularly speak and read in your chosen language/s is also very important, as is continuing to develop your level of knowledge of the relevant cultures.  You will also no doubt wish to look out for any events, workshops, seminars and conferences in your subject area – listen to experts and learn from them.  Use social media to become connected with like-minded individuals, and keep an eye on the Outside In World website for news of relevant conferences and events.


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