In the march of universal improvement, education must lead the van

Thomas Mann

In the previous posts of the series about “What sets great translators apart from the average”, the main categories of characteristics – language background, working skills and mental attitudes – have been described.

This post deals with education & qualification, which are a part of the language background.

Read also   |   All posts

Characteristics of a Great Translator |

Part 3: Experience

Characteristics of a Great Translator |

Part 2: Writing & Self-Expression

Characteristics of a Great Translator |

Part 1: Education & Qualification

One might say that bilingual people and/or people with a finished linguistic education are predestined to be good translators, but that’s only half true.

It’s out of question native speakers of two languages have the natural gift to detect nuances and express ideas and thoughts in both the source language and the target language.

Speaking two or more languages and knowing their grammar rules perfectly, and having a rich vocabulary are very good foundations grounds to build on.

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Characteristics of a Great Translator |

Language Background

Characteristics of a Great Translator |

Working Skills

Characteristics of a Great Translator |

Mental Attitudes

These foundations are usually enough to translate general topics or personal writings, but it takes much more to become a great professional translator.

There are many skills to be mastered and knowledge to be gained in order to be qualified to work on challenging projects in specific fields of expertise.

These qualifications can be gained through education or training for a specific area of expertise such as economy, finance, marketing, law, information and communications technology, medicine, engineering, construction, tourism, culture, history, sports, etc.

Since the translation industry has changed over the past decades, translators are required to be qualified to translate in different fields of expertise.

They can achieve that by actively reading publications and information sources, watching videos, attending conferences and webinars in the specific fields.

Passion and curiosity about languages and their cultural characteristics (will be described individually as part of the mental attributes) is very helpful in solving this challenging task.


A great professional translator must not even be a native speaker of the target language.

They can achieve the necessary level of linguistic fluency, but their continuous work on their qualifications enables them to constantly provide top-quality translations both in general topics and in different other fields of expertise.

An average translator, however, usually covers general topics very well – sometimes even perfect, but might be overburdened with projects in specific fields.

Since the majority of the huge and well-paid translation projects deal with some specific field, the highly qualified translator would be assigned to more projects and make a better income than the average.

Each individual main category and their individual characteristics can be read about on the Apollo Transolutions blog.

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