How do you start a career as a translator?

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2020)

How do you start a career as a translator?

Globalization strengthened the translation industry. Its promising probabilities attracts many starters. A translator should be fluent in at least two dialectss in addition to their native dialect to perform his or her job. Interpreters should reach high level of language skills to qualify for the work. Aspiring interpreters needs great skill, along with an intelligent, intellectually curious and open mind.

Translation is a stable job since the industry is huge and it is not affected by recession. By 2021, the industry is projected to reach a revenue of $47.46 billion. Its growth is expected to steadily grow, providing high potential for employment in the field.

In the United States, not less 3,000 language service providers operate and around 55, 000 professionals works in the industry as dialectal specialists. In 2016, countries including the United States, Great Britain, France, China, Italy, Japan, Luxemburg, Sweden and the Czech Republic have the most active dialectal interpretation industry.

There is tight competition in the dialect localization industry. The number of professional translators is not enough to cater the market demand of the services. There is enough translation jobs in the market. Anyone who speaks another language fluently other that their mother tongue and those who are interested in other dialects and foreign culture can work as a translator.

Localization allows you to help people understand one another and it allows more people to enjoy the works of literary writers and generally facilitate communication.

Skills needed for the job

You will be facing challenges as you pursue your career as a translator. Just like any other jobs, it requires dedication and perseverance. Love for languages is necessary for the job. It is also important that you have the right education with necessary skills to do the job. The following skills make a professional interpreter.


Language Skills

Dialect comes first in all the skills that you need to develop as an interpreter. Fluency in the source dialect or the language that you need to convert to is important. Aspiring translators must be a native speaker and a good writer of the target linguistic.


Only few people are able to precisely translate into a dialect that is not native to them. Only native speakers are considered by most translation firms to work as a professional translator. Some people improves their language proficiency after living or at least spending a major part of the year in the country where the target dialect is spoken. For example, if you plan to translate to Chinese, you must stay in China for at least a year, it helps in better understanding the culture and language of the country. Many translation companies prefers workers with familiarity with the language.

You have to be able to write very well and understand the source text as a professional translator. Mastery of vocabulary and grammar is needed for the profession. Aspirants should have good command of the idiomatic methods to precisely and accurately express things and their intended meaning. The mastery of the target language and a good knowledge of the different dialects, punctuation, grammar, axioms, slang, variants, styles, jargon and its euphemisms to become a good language interpreter.

Computer skills

The proficiency of an interpreter in language needs to be accompanied by his or her computer skills. It is important for aspirants to be skilful in using several programs like MS Office programs, Photoshop, and InDesign since there are jobs that requires the use of the applications. Using computer programs improves your efficiency and the chance of getting employed.

Professional interpreters might need computer-assisted translation tools. It is advantageous for an aspiring translator to have knowledge on HTML. Good typing skills is important since you will work on written documents. You’re at an advantage if you have above average typing speed and accuracy.

Business skills

The conversion industry requires good business skills. Some clients prefer the services of freelance interpreters. If you plan to work freelance you need to know how to sell your services. Knowledge in marketing and sales is needed to build a network, to find clients and get localization jobs. There will be stiff competition among other freelancers so you have to develop tenacity. Punctuality and proper organizing is important for a professional converter.

Steps to become a professional translator

The following steps will help you become a professional interpreter:

Acquire an education

You are encouraged to pursue localization studies to become professional. There are courses on writing and comprehension, and foreign languages that might assist you to do the job. Clients prefer interpreters with a bachelor’s degree majoring in a particular language to work on their documents. Many professionals in the industry are specialists in different fields like business, the arts, legal, medical, pharmaceutical, finance, and more. Being bilingual and their experience in the field helped them survive the competition.

Apply for and pass certification program

It is important that you acquire certification or accreditation to work as a language converter. Certification or accreditation proves that you possess the necessary skills to convert on a professional level.

Pass language proficiency test

Language proficiency tests boosts your resume. It shows that you are fluent with the language that you speak. The tests are offered by some organizations, schools and many translation firms.

Acquiring job experience

Clients and firms always looks for job experience in our resume. You can look for entry-level work, which will expose you to the intricacies of the translation process and the business, if you have experience.

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