If you’re considering starting a career as a professional translator, there are several important facts to keep in mind. It should go without saying that in order to excel as a translator, you’ll need to know at least one other language fluently, and preferably more than one. But a career as a translator involves much more than simply knowing another language. Here are five things that every beginning translator needs to know
Make sure you’re truly qualified
Many people speak more than one language, but translating will require not only understanding and speaking different languages; it will also require superior writing skills in whatever languages you speak. This means understanding rules of grammar and punctuation, as well as nuances of the language that may not be obvious – such as appropriate word usage and current popular jargon.
Once you feel confident that your knowledge base is strong enough to pursue a career as a translator, the next step is convincing other people of that fact. And there’s no better way to do that than with certification. There are several avenues to choose from. The American Translators Association, for example, is a well-known organization that offers certification programs. If you want to specialize in a specific area – such as the medical field, for example – there are many groups that offer certification applicable specifically to those industries.
Set up shop
Before you begin to actively market your translation services, be sure that you are well equipped to actually perform the task. Arm yourself with a variety of dictionaries and style guides, whether in hard copy or by subscribing to online sites. Familiarize yourself in a general sense with how to effectively use your reference material.
Establish your fee structure
If you intend to become a freelance translator, it’s vital to set up a fee structure that is both competitive with the other freelancers in your area or industry, as well as providing a fair and livable wage for you. The first step is to find out what other translators are charging. There are several ways to find this information online by simply entering a search term in your search engine such as “translator fees in Michigan,” for example.
Sell your services
The future looks bright for careers in the translation field. Although there are full-time positions available, most translators either work for a translation agency, or work for clients on an as-needed basis. Some industries that employ translators on a regular basis include the medical field, the legal profession, and governmental agencies, to name just a few.
Because of the global nature of the world in which we live, the career opportunities for translators are almost limitless. Keep this in mind as you begin your new career. We wish you much success!