Studying for a translation certificate in Germany

by Carlin

I'm an American who has lived in Germany for about a year, and who will stay for another six months. I graduated from an in 2010 (in the US) with a Bachelor of Arts in German and English Writing, and my german reading / writing / speech is very good. I found your website helpful, but I had more questions.

How I might get a translation certificate in Germany (where it is cheap)? Is such a degree possible when my target language is english rather than german? If so, is there a difference between studying at a FHS and an Uni? I live near Duesseldorf, but am able to relocate. If I decide to study, I will stay in Germany for longer.

Any info would be very much appreciated!

Thank you!


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Studying for translation qualifications in Germany
by: Joanna

Hi Carlin

Many thanks for your submission to German Translation Tips and Resources.

I think the key question is: where do you intend to work as a translator? If you are planning to go back and work in the US, and predominantly with US clients, then they will perhaps be more assured if their German translator has an American translation qualification as recognised by the American Translators Association (ATA) (

To be eligible to take the ATAs certification exam (and, if successful, to put CT after your name) you have to been a member of the ATA, have translation/language qualifications and experience working as a German translator (although the experience requirement is waived if your qualifications are MA-level or above). The ATA haa a certification program for your language combination ? German into English.

Thus in your case, and assuming no experience in working as a translator, you?d need a postdoc qualification from one of the approved translation and interpreting schools whose qualifications they recognise. This list does include the Universität Düsseldorf, Philosophische Fakultät, Studiengang: Literaturübersetzen, and Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Studiengang Literaturübersetzen, which would be geographically closest for you.

The German Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators ( is the German equivalent to the ATA. It publishes a list of recognised qualifications (which includes details about the courses run in Düsseldorf). As far as I can see, it accepts you as a member on the basis of your academic qualifications. You?d need to contact your local BDÜ representation (address on the website) to find out if your US credentials will be recognised.

In both cases, it looks like you could study in Düsseldorf before deciding whether to sit the ATA exams or apply to the BDÜ.

Here is an overview of international professional translation organisations for any further research you might want to do.

Hope this has been of some help!


Thank you!
by: Carlin

Hi Joanna,

Your reply was a big help and I will definitely look into Heinrich-Heine in depth. Thank you! website.


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German to English Translation

Joanna Scudamore-Trezek

I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively.  How can I help you today?

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