When you're surrounded by roses, you take on their perfume - Russian proverb.

Are you mad for everything Russian? Did you choose Russian language studies in school? Do you want to continue your studies for your future career as a Russian translator? Or are you of Russian origin and you would like to build a profession around your knowledge of the Russian language?

Russia is a fascinating country and Russian is a rich language. Russian culture is amazing and deserves to be studied properly before embarking on a career as a Russian translator so that you can practise your profession properly.

Superprof now tells you what it takes to become a Russian translator.

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Lava
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1st lesson free!
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Natalia
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5 (4 reviews)
Pavel
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4.9 (9 reviews)
Ina
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4.9 (9 reviews)
Iryna
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Liudmyla
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No Training is Required to Become a Translator of Russian

Good news! If you are already bilingual in Russian, or if you have been learning the language for several years and have a rich knowledge of the country's culture, you don't have to go back to school to learn Russian translation.

No diploma is required to practice the profession of translator.

You don't need a diploma or certificate to work as a Russian translator
No diploma or certificate is required to work as a Russian language translator. Photo credit: Beth77 on VisualHunt

Your experience with the language and knowledge of the culture of Russia may be enough to find a salaried job in translation agencies or to land assignments as a freelance translator.

Have you spent several months or years in Russia? If so, do not hesitate to highlight your time and experiences there on your CV. That will not only make you a more credible job candidate, it may also give you preferential hiring status.

However, if you are competing with a candidate who has graduated from a school specializing in translation or someone who has a master's degree in Russian language studies, you may not be chosen for the advertised position.

To ensure your employability as a translator, translation training will allow you to acquire the basics of translating Russian texts more easily and quickly.

Also, you should gain recognition from the Chartered Institute of Linguists, the body that develops and maintains the standards of translation in the UK. Note that they also administer the DipTrans, the exam prospective translators sit to qualify their skills and abilities as translators. More on that institute and the exam in a moment.

If you don't need, want or have time for a long language learning course, you could take Russian lessons with a private tutor.

When interviewing potential teachers, ask them if they can train you specifically in translation. Do not hesitate to take a look at the Russian course Superprofs on our platform! You will surely find a teacher ready to help you.

The path you take to become a Russian language translator in the UK depends on how you came to your knowledge of the Russian language.

Let's say that, towards the end of your stint in primary school, you decided to take Russian as a secondary school elective course. The steps you would take to become a translator of Russian are fairly extensive; we've described in the next segment.

If you are bilingual - perhaps you belong to a blended Anglo-Russ family, or you're a native speaker of Russian, your path towards establishing yourself as a translator of Russian is relatively short and easy.

First, you should prove your language skills, either through the Russian official language test, the TORFL or the DipTrans, which, as mentioned above, is administered by the Chartered Institute of Linguists.

As you establish your Russian speaking credentials, you may already start casting about for translation work. That will give you the chance to build a portfolio so that, when your credentials are established, you will have plenty of experience to list on your CV.

Remember, you don't have to have any certifications to engage in translation; the certifications are only to establish your credibility as a translator.

Working in an agency gives you a chance to work with other translators
You may work in a translation agency with a team of translators. Photo credit: guccio@文房具社 on VisualHunt.com

In seeking work as a translator, you have two avenues to choose from: you may freelance or look for a job at any agency or company that employs translators. Each option has its pros and cons.

If you are employed at a translation agency, you derive all of the benefits and suffer all of the drawbacks any other employee does.

You will receive a steady paycheque, work regular hours, have co-workers to help you out in a pinch. The flipside of that coin is that you may not earn as much as you could if you worked independently and you may be assigned materials to translate that you don't particularly care to work on or have no specialised knowledge of, such as technical manuals or scientific papers.

These days, rather than hiring translators outright, many agencies contract with independent translators on a per-job basis. The drawback to this system is that you won't necessarily have any job security; once the work is finished, your relationship with that agency is over.

Unless they keep your information on file in case another translation job comes along that they need you to work on. 

Many find that starting their own freelance translation business is particularly rewarding.

As a freelancer, you seek out clients, bid on translation jobs and do the work yourself. You receive the full benefit of your work - no agency or middleman takes a cut of your earnings. However, you will have to register your business with HMRC and pay taxes on your own.

Freelance Russian translators may live anywhere in the world, including in Russia. Should you decide to relocate, you may find work as an English-to-Russian translator, which could significantly expand your client list.

Finding translation work as a freelancer is not as daunting as you might think. You may:

  • register with local translation agencies as an independent translator
  • build a profile on reputable sites such as LinkedIn and Upwork
  • set alerts on jobs websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed for translation jobs
  • specialise in a particular type of translation

Specialising is a way to ensure that you get only the translation work that you have special knowledge for.

Examples of specialisation include technical Russian, legal Russian, Russian for audio-visual (this type of work involves writing subtitles and scripts for dubbing in Russian) and others.

Look for internship opportunities in Russia to develop as a translator
Once you complete your university Russian language studies, you should pursue an internship in Russia. Photo credit: Community College of Vermont on VisualHunt.com

Academic Pathways to a Career as a Translator

You're the student who signed up to study Russian in school. You could not be dissuaded by the complex grammar or guttural pronunciation, and the Cyrillic alphabet intrigued rather than daunted you.

It matters whether you decided to study the Russian language because you have some sort of connection to Russia.

Maybe your grandparents emigrated from there and, throughout your childhood, regaled you with tales of Russian celebrations and daily life.

As a second-generation Brit with Russian ancestry, you may not speak Russian but you most likely have a pretty good grasp of the culture. All you need are the language skills to make your future as a translator of the Russian language achievable. Studying the words and grammar structures in class adds to your knowledge of Russian culture, allowing you a better picture of what the Russian language represents.

Contrast that knowledge to someone who knows little of Russian culture; maybe someone whose sole exposure came through Russian films and books. For those learners, the focus is on the language, with culture coming in a distant second. There's just one problem with that.

Translation is not a word-for-word proposition.

Let's use the Russian word for friendship to illustrate our point. Дружба (pronounced 'druzhba') does, indeed, translate to 'friendship' but it can also mean cronyism, unity and association.

Now, let's say you're translating a news article about politics, and you run across that word. Your specialised knowledge of Russian society informs which meaning you will assign. By contrast, someone who is not familiar with Russian culture may inadvertently change the tone and implication of the article by assigning one of friendship's less honourable translations.

It might not be too bad if the translation results in "The president's unity with other countries' leaders..." but it would create a political storm if you translated "The president's cronyism with other countries' leaders..."

No worries if you have no Russian heritage or special cultural knowledge, though. The most important first step is to learn Russian as thoroughly as possible - not just speaking but reading and writing as well.

Naturally, if you've embraced Russian language studies at the secondary school level, you'll surely carry on through college and complete a university degree plan in Russian studies. You may even want to undertake postgraduate studies, especially if such a programme will offer an internship in Russia.

Should you decide that your undergraduate degree is sufficient, that's okay, too. Remember that there are no formal requirements for being a Russian translator. However, if that's where you end your academic career, you should seek out internship opportunities on your own.

Such an experience would be invaluable to your future credibility as a Russian translator. And, while you're there, you may sit the TORFL - the Russian language skills test that mirrors the TOEFL.

Whether you sojourn in Russia or not, you should sit both the DipTrans and TORFL exam, which the London School of Economics and the Russian Language Centre in London are authorised to administer.

When you come back from Russia (or successfully complete those exams), you might consider giving lessons in Russian until translation work starts flowing your way...

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Sophia

A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.