Many future translators start preparing for their jobs while being toddlers. Those who weren’t lucky enough to be born in bilingual families will need to spend years learning a foreign language. Some do this sustained effort with the clear goal of becoming translators. While others realize that they have such a career opportunity already after being proficient in a foreign language, even after building a career in another field. Below, we offer some advice regarding the steps and tools to be undertaken by those who contemplate or are in the process of making such a career transition.
Making the Transition
1. Ensure your language skills are sufficient for professional translation. If this is not the case, as an intermediary step, consider other jobs that would help improve your language. This is because a professional translator needs to be able to recognize and convey subtle notions and to be keenly aware of the context, whether it is related to the discipline, culture, etc.
2. Specialized training, including university programs, could also be an option to consider. According to the editorial team of Indeed.com, certifications aren’t necessary to enter the field, although they should be definitely considered since they can add credibility in the eyes of the clients or employers. Certifications can attest proficiency in a language or even in a particular field of activity.
3. Decide which industries you’ll focus on. Here, you could take advantage of your current work experience or previous academic training. Specializing in a limited number of industries or disciplines allows you to become familiar with the corresponding terminology – a time-consuming and error-prone step. This will result in more accurate translations, which will also take less time to complete.
4. Work for an agency or independently. In the first scenario, it is a good idea to inspect the job requirements that top translation sites formulate when hiring translators, their rates, workload, work schedule. In the second scenario, everything is up to you – despite the ability to set your own prices, you would have to take charge of promoting your services, building a reputation and a client base, ensuring a constant flow of orders.
5. Consider arming yourself with the appropriate digital toolkit, since it can greatly boost translation efficiency. There is a great variety of offline dictionaries, resources, and tools, most of which are free, despite their high quality. These include:
- digital dictionaries for specific language pairs
- dictionaries of specific terminology
- thesauri – to retrieve synonyms
- context translation dictionaries – these are relatively new and can prove incredibly useful given that they show the translation of the desired word combinations in context. In practice, this helps to pinpoint much faster the appropriate meaning (out of many) or synonym of a word or word combination that fits best the context.
- optical character recognition tools – to transform scanned images in a given language into text. Importantly, these can recreate tables and many formatting elements which would be very time-consuming to recreate manually.
If entering the field is a problem, consider internships and volunteering, for instance, translating software manuals, documentation, proceedings of a conference, educational materials. List your projects and include links to your translations so that everyone interested can conveniently evaluate them.
Final thoughts relating to changing your occupation to a professional translator
According to the Indeed.com article mentioned above, translators are paid on average $20 an hour (ranging between $7 and $51). Consequently, depending on the level of proficiency, such a job can be highly profitable, especially for translators across the world with good knowledge of corresponding languages.
Translating is also a job perfectly suitable for freelancers and digital nomads. All these could serve as an additional source of motivation and help overcome the challenges associated with making the transition.
Merissa gathered diverse experience working for several content writing companies in the field of academic assistance and marketing. Having a good understanding of the industry, she often shares her observations and thoughts with a larger audience. Besides, she gladly offers general advice on writing productively.
Positive Words Research – How To Change Your Occupation To Professional Translator