How to Become a Legal Translator

You know another language, or maybe more, and figure you should do something with them, right? The first thing that probably came to mind was to become a translator. Translators are sought after these days, mostly because every business on the market has gone International, or at least expanded to a different country. Being a translator can be lucrative, but it is also pretty difficult to make it in this line of work. So, how do you become a translator? I will cover the legal part after.

I will cover the scenario where someone does not have any relevant studies to this profession.


The first step is to get certified and fluent in both your native language and your second one. Your priority is to get a bachelor’s degree in your native language or in translation and be certified in the second one. Once you have those, look for the official translation body in your country and see how you can enter courses there and be tested. Most countries have translation courses and different tiers of testing to determine the depth of your skills.


Before attempting any translation or language exams, you need to make sure you have a good grasp on both your native and second language. As a rule, translators work in their native language. So their native language will be the target language and their second language will be the source.

Make sure you read as much as possible, watch subtitles films and take every opportunity to talk to natives of your second language. If possible, visit the country of your second language and stay there for a few weeks.

In order to translate correctly, you need to be able to hold a formal conversation or a casual one and to know esoteric terms on a variety of topics.

Legal translation

Now this is the tricky part. In order to be a legal translator, you have to know the law, in both language. The legal field is open to interpretation, as you can see with lawyers, so in order to translate a legal document accurately, you need to be able to understand the source document and translate it so the meaning remains the same.

In other words, if you want to do legal translation, you will need to study the law and be certified in it. Certification is as important as experience in this line of work, you will have problems finding clients fi you lack either of those two.

My suggestion is to focus on translation first, do some volunteer work, translate whatever you find so you will gain some experience. Paying jobs will soon follow, especially if you market yourself online on websites like Proz and TranslatorCafe. Once you have a good flow of translation jobs coming, you will be able to study the law in order to become a legal translator.

It will be difficult, but it can be done. All you need is a good basis, like knowing another language.

In order to be successful at legal translation you will need to invest a lot of time into your career. Once you have everything you need, make sure you sign-up with a language services provider like Global Lingo. Do so here:

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