Natalia Sebastián, Senior Translator and Editor

In relation with my colleague Antonio’s last blog entry about the real occupation for translators, with this article, I intend to answer to another typical question made by those people who are not familiarized with our profession – What do I have to do to be a translator?

The great force or weakness (depending on the point of view) for the translation occupation is that it is not standardized, so its accessibility is quite flexible.

The Spanish Royal Decree 1837/2008, which regulates the general system for recognizing university degrees in Spain, defines a standardized occupation as the professional activity/set of professional activities whose access to, pursue of or performance modality is subject, directly or indirectly, to be in possession of certain professional qualifications by virtue of legal, statutory or administrative laws. Its Annex VIII lists the standardized occupations, where we can find the sworn interpreter. Those people who hold the Translation and Interpreting degree may apply for the sworn interpreter appointment to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, as far as they prove to have passed the subjects that grant them a specific preparation in legal and economic translation, and in interpreting in the languages they apply for (Royal Decree 2002/2009 about the sworn interpreter appointment by the Foreign Affairs Ministry).

Therefore, as I said above and apart from the sworn interpreter, anyone (with a degree or not) may freely pursue the translation or interpreting occupations, since they are not regulated.

Actually, before the academic program to grant the Translation and Interpreting degree was approved, in September 30th, 1991, the existing translators and interpreters came from other academic and professional fields –such as those who held a degree in English Philology, a degree in Tourism and, in fact, anyone with a high knowledge in several languages. Currently, many of them go on pursuing this occupation and have a great and valuable experience they have been acquiring along time. Nowadays, it is still possible to access this occupation without holding the Translation and Interpreting degree. However, holding the degree grants a higher acknowledgement in the marketplace. In fact, translation companies/agencies are increasingly hiring people holding the Translation and Interpreting degree almost exclusively.

The Translation and Interpreting curriculum, into force from 1991 until Bologna Plan implementation in 2010, consisted of four academic years and established the basic and common skills and knowledge that were necessary to access this occupation. The establishment of this degree was so welcome by students and professionals that many of them wanted to hold the title to obtain a higher acknowledgment in the market place. Most could hold the title by the process of recognition of academic qualifications, i.e., adding subjects taken in other degrees to their records by comparing their corresponding curricula.

In 2010, the existing degree in Translation and Interpreting was replaced with a different one, resulting from the Bologna Plan deployment, which looks for convergence, mobility and interaction of university systems in the European Union (European Higher Education Area [EHEA]), and the degree acknowledge, and increases professional opportunities for higher education students. This new degree in Translation and Interpreting consists of the same amount of years as the former degree, but the new curriculum contents are focused on the acquisition of the competencies required to access the marketplace easily, by providing them with mandatory work experience in companies. Furthermore, students can now choose from a wide variety of dual degrees, which combine the degree in Translation and Interpreting with another related degree (five academic years).

Below you can find a list of the university centers in Spanish offering the degree in Translation and Interpreting (unique or dual), as well as postgraduate studies related to this degree:

Degree in Translation and Interpreting:

–  Universidad de Alicante –  Universidad de Málaga
–  Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona –  Universidad de Murcia
–  Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona) –  Universidad del País Vasco (Basque Country)
–  Universidad de Córdoba –  Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands)
–  Universidad de Granada –  Universidad de Salamanca
–  Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio (Madrid): Degree in Translation and Interpreting + Degree in International Relations –  Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Seville): Humanities + Translation and Interpreting
–  Universidad Autónoma de Madrid –  Universitat Jaume I (Valencia)
–  Universidad Complutense de Madrid (CES Felipe II) –  Universidad de Valladolid
  –  Universidad de Vigo


Postgraduate Studies:

–  Universidad de Alicante: University Master’s Degree in Institutional Translation.

–  Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona: University Master’s Degree in Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies and Doctorate in Translation and Intercultural Studies.

–  Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona): University Master’s Degree in Translation Studies and Doctorate in Translation and Language Sciences.

–  Universidad de Córdoba: University Master’s Degree in Specialized Translation and Doctorate in Specialized Translation and Literary Translation.

–  Universidad Pontificia de Comillas (Madrid): University Master’s Degree in Legal-Financial Translation.

–  Universidad Complutense de Madrid (CES Felipe II): University Master’s Degree in Literary Translation.

–  Universidad de Málaga: University Master’s Degree in Translation for Publishing and Doctorate in Linguistics, Literary and Translation.

–  Universidad de Murcia: University Master’s Degree in Publishing Translation and Doctorate in Translation and Interpreting.

–  Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: University Master’s Degree in Professional Translation and Intercultural Mediation.

–  Universidad de Salamanca: University Master’s Degree in Translation and Cultural Mediation.

–  Universitat Jaume I (Valencia): University Master’s Degree in Translation and Interpreting Research (home-study), and University Master’s Degree in Medical Translation (home-study).

–  Universidad de Valladolid: University Master’s Degree in Professional and Institutional Translation.

–  Universidad de Vigo: University Master’s Degree in Multimedia Translation, University Master’s Degree in Translation for International Communications and Doctorate in Translation and Paratranslation.

I hope this information has clarified some of your doubts. See you in my next entry!