Nadja Grbić studied linguistics and Slavic studies. Her PhD focused on sociolinguistics. During her studies, she was involved in a research project on multilingualism in early childhood. In 1989, she joined the Department of Translation Studies at the University of Graz as a research assistant, and was appointed to the post of senior researcher in 1994. To date, she has conducted twelve national and international research and development projects, including work on sign language interpreting and sign language lexicography, with a financial volume amounting to 1,6 million Euros. She also developed and implemented the first full-time study program for sign language interpreters at a translation studies department at a time when such programs were generally situated in linguistics, social work or health science departments.

In 2017, she was appointed Associate Professor of Translation Studies having completed her postdoctoral thesis (Habilitation) on the history of signed language interpreting in Austria and the construction of a profession, proposing a new professionalization model and typology of interpreting events, including professional as well as non-professional practices. In her research, she has focused on issues pertaining to translation and gender; the construction of south-east European literature via translation in Romanticism and post-war Yugoslavia; the concept of interpreting quality; strategies of boundary work with regard to signed language interpreting, community interpreting, and professional vs. non-professional interpreting; and the history of interpreting and translation studies, including scientometrics, which led her to her recent interest in the constructive nature of the translation/interpreting concept in various disciplines. Until 2012, she was reviews editor of the journal Translation Studies, edited by Kate Sturge and Michaela Wolf and published by Routledge. She is also associate editor of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies. Nadja Grbić has also translated literature from Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian into German. She is currently deputy head of the Department of Translation Studies at the University of Graz.