Masters degree for translators
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post for the Colorado Translators Association weighing the pros and cons of a graduate degree for translators. This spring, I graduated from West Virginia University with a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communication. Clearly, I had convinced myself that the time, money and amount of work involved were worth it.

I did not, however, pursue a degree in a translation or language related field. I wanted to expand my horizon even further. So, I went for a degree in my area of specialization, which is something I highly recommend to my fellow translators.

Here are some reasons why:

1. Learn to think like your clients

Stepping outside of my comfort zone allowed me to gain insight into the world of my clients. By defining target audiences, drafting SWOT analyses and devising marketing strategies, I learned what’s important to those who commission my services to translate their press releases, advertisements, and website copy. Rather than just translating marketing materials from English into German, I can now craft my translations from the point of view of a marketer.

2. Add to your own value proposition

With a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a post-graduate certificate in translation, I already had a solid background in writing and translating. Adding a marketing degree to the mix is another layer of credibility that shows my clients in the marketing industry that I not only talk the talk, I actually walk the walk. A graduate degree proves that you are dedicated to your chosen field and an expert in your clients’ subject matter.

3. Expand your vocabulary

Pursuing a degree in your area of specialization will expose you to the lingo spoken by those in the field. This not only teaches you terminology that you are likely to come across in your daily work, it also allows you to blend in at industry conventions where you may meet potential clients. People do business with people they know, like, and trust, and nothing creates a sense of familiarity and reliability like participating in informed discussions with potential business partners.

4. Stand out from the competition

Throw a stone at the annual ATA Convention in any direction, and chances are high you will hit a German translator. Marketing translators in my language combination may be less abundant, but they are by no means a rare breed. Translators with a master’s degree in marketing, who understand their clients’ business needs inside and out, are another story altogether. To the types of clients I like to work with, this is an important differentiator.

5. Use your new skills for your own purposes

My education not only comes in handy when I translate a client’s marketing collateral. Knowing how to write an effective marketing plan and measure results directly benefits my business growth. I know how to choose the most effective marketing channels for my business, how to track what works and what doesn’t. Chances are, you will find ways to apply your newly acquired knowledge to your own advantage.


6. Enjoy a sense of accomplishment

Marion Rhodes Master of Science in IMC

Being your own boss, as most translators are, means you don’t get performance reviews. Occasionally, a client may give us feedback on a job, but overall, our efforts are judged primarily against our own standards. It’s nice to hear you did great work every now and then, though – and nothing says “Job well done!” like getting your graduate diploma handed to you. There’s a feeling of personal satisfaction that comes with that piece of paper, a sense of: “I did this – I can do anything!”





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