Translation is growing in importance around the world, and the training required is growing as well - making the university courses offered vital.
The personal computing revolution started to change all that, and the Internet sealed the deal: legal translation has become a bona-fide industry today, and working in translation as a freelancer can be your full-time career.
So it's not surprising that more and more colleges and university are teaching translation-related courses, and emphasising their language departments more and more. After all, most universities and colleges are businesses after they are places of learning, and they are always going to offer the courses that will attract paying students. And translation is booming.
If you're looking into high quality translation as a career and you're in school or returning to school for that purpose, here are a few things to consider when auditing courses.
Translation is More than Words
The first thing to look for is an emphasis on professional business translation. Simply being able to read a passage in one language and render it competently in another is no longer the minimum requirement for translation work - in today's world most of your translation business comes from business, so you need a concentration on the best practices and typical requirements of companies with formal translation requirements.
This includes knowing how to deal with Style Guides as well as how companies typically assign and manage staffs of translation professionals - and the certifications they look for.
Next, any course worth its salt will also have a broad focus on the various technologies that translation pros use, ranging from how to tell the useful web resources from the useless, the Computer Assisted Translation tools that are available and which ones are commonly mandated by businesses and, perhaps most importantly, how those technologies are actually used in a practical sense. if the course materials don't mention Translation Memory tools, find another course.
Finally, translation remains a "knowledge profession." No translation pro should ever rely on Wikipedia and their own natural linguistic skills to do their job. Any university-level course on translation must include some real research skill teaching - how to do research in the modern day, the weaknesses and strengths of Internet research, and old-fashioned library and peer research techniques. A good translation professional is only as strong as the research they are capable of performing.
As translation grows in importance in the world, the training required to be considered a "professional" in it will only get more stringent. It all starts with choosing the right courses to study, so my general advice would be: Start with your language training, and when it comes time to learn the business side of things, choose wisely!