How to Become a Spanish Translator [Guide & Tips]

how to become a spanish translator

Spanish is one of the most spoken languages around the world. With over 550 million speakers worldwide, Spanish is one of the top 5 most-spoken languages. As of 2023, there are roughly 488 million native Spanish speakers.

There are at least 20 countries with native Spanish-speaking populations. Not to mention, many countries where Spanish is a second language like the United States.

So, it’s no surprise that Spanish translation is a thriving field among language translators.

When it comes to translating content into Spanish, there are some popular language pairs over others. For example, Spanish-English, English-Spanish, Arabic-Spanish, Spanish-Arabic, Spanish-French, and French-Spanish are among the common language pairs for Spanish translation.

If you’re a native Spanish speaker or a Spanish language learner, you have considered becoming a Spanish language translator. There are many variables that come into play. But we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll explain how to become a Spanish translator and offer some tips to get you started.

Fun facts about the Spanish language

There are many interesting insights about the Spanish language – besides being among the most commonly spoken languages in the world.

  • According to research compiled by Google, “Spanish is the third most commonly used language on the internet.” Nearly 8% of internet users communicate in Spanish.
  • The largest number of Spanish speakers are in Mexico.
  • Spanish has a strong influence on other languages. It was the “lingua franca” in the Philippines at the beginning of the 20th century. In addition, roughly 33% of the Tagalog language is of Spanish origin.
  • Spanish isn’t only common in Europe and the Americas. Equatorial Guinea is the only African country where Spanish is the official language.
  • There’s a high demand for Spanish in the scientific field. According to Google, “Spanish is the second most common language for publications of scientific documents.” The first and most common language is English.
  • English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English translations are in high demand.
  • There are many Spanish dialects. This is evident in the way people speak Spanish in Latin America and those who speak Spanish in Spain.
  • The Spanish language is heavily influenced by the Arabic language.

How to become a Spanish translator

There are several requirements you need to have before you can become a Spanish translator.

In this section, we’ll include both requirements, along with recommendations and tips to help you start your Spanish translation journey.

1) Be fluent in Spanish and another language

The most essential tip to becoming a translator is to be fluent in 2 languages. For Spanish translators, you need to be fluent in Spanish and a second language.

If your mother tongue is Spanish, then you’ll need to choose a second language to form a language pair. It’s important to find a language that you feel good about and that you can easily converse with other people in.

Working with rare languages isn’t a bad idea. It may be financially rewarding but it may also limit your opportunities.

2) Take translation courses

Taking a translation course is a great step in your journey to become a Spanish translator.

On the one hand, translation courses give you exposure to different kinds of texts. These can include areas like media translation, website translation, and medical translation, among others.

3) Take language courses

Consider taking language courses in Spanish, English, or another language that will become your language pair.

For example, if your mother tongue is Spanish, then consider taking an English-language and speaking course to improve your English.

If English is your mother tongue, then consider taking a Spanish language course. However, it’s important to move at a good pace through language courses so that you can take up translation in the advanced stages of your learning journey.

4) Be familiar with terminology

To become a competent Spanish translator, you not only need to understand, speak, and write in Spanish and another language but also familiarize yourself with specific terminology and acronyms in both languages.

For example, if you’re a medical Spanish translator, you need to be familiar with the medical terms in both languages. You need to be able to translate medical terms and jargon from and into Spanish.

5) Travel to a Spanish-speaking country

If your mother tongue isn’t Spanish and you want to become a Spanish translator, consider traveling to a Spanish-speaking country.

Not only will this act as linguistic training for you, but also give you experience in dealing with native Spanish people. It will also give you direct insight into Spanish heritage, language nuances, slang, and more.

6) Get an internship or entry-level job in a Spanish-speaking company

Getting started as a Spanish translator can take time, even after taking some translation courses.

Consider getting training or an internship at a translation agency or a Spanish-speaking organization. Not only will this give you actual translation experience, but also give you the opportunity to work with different texts.

Working with translation companies, specifically, will give you experience in translating content in different fields. For example, you may get to translate legal documents into Spanish, financial or business content,…etc.

One of the most common language pairs and jobs as a Spanish translator is doing English-to-Spanish document translation.

7) Consider specializing in a niche

As you progress in your Spanish translation career, consider specializing in a niche. A niche is a field of expertise.

For example, you may choose to become a Spanish financial translator or a Spanish legal translator.

As mentioned, Spanish is the second most widely used language in scientific documents. If you come from a medical background, you can consider becoming a medical translator from or into Spanish.

8) Consider getting certified

Getting certified as a translator may pave the way to better and bigger translation opportunities. However, it’s worth mentioning that not all types of translation require a certification.

Often, medical and legal translation are the top areas where certifications are common, if not required. Similarly, medical interpreting requires a certification, however, this certification is for the interpreting side, which comes with its own requirements.

If you choose to specialize in legal translation, consider becoming a certified translator. This may open up new and more prestigious opportunities for you.

Wrapping it up

You don’t need a degree to become a Spanish translator. Not a degree in translation or a degree in Spanish. It begins with language fluency and research skills.

Being a translator means you’re a great researcher. Because regardless of your background, you’ll need to research various topics, terms, and concepts to render accurate translations.

Becoming a Spanish translator can be a great opportunity to supplement your income or become a full-time translator.

If you think becoming a Spanish translator is a long process to getting your content translated into Spanish, don’t fret.

You can request a free quote for your Spanish translation needs from TranslationPartner. We provide specialized Spanish translation services including website translation, medical, financial, legal translation, among others.