How To Be A Professional Translator

People say that being a professional in any kind of field, you need to have years of experience but I honestly don’t agree with that line of thought. Having years of experience will definitely make you the best at what you do but being professional is a result of doing the right thing and delivering great quality work. I like to think of it as someone who has mastered their craft.

In this article, we will look at some important things you must do in order to be a professional translator. A translator is a professional who can help in transforming content from one language to another. This content is usually in written format. For translation to take place there must be a source language and a target language. Source language is the original language from which a text is being translated from while the target language is a language that a text is being translated into. While a translator may fully understand their source language and even be able to write well in it, writing in one’s native language is usually easier, and the text produced is usually smoother and more natural.

Below I have outlined what you should do in order to be a professional translator.

1. Study your source language extensively.

When you are a beginner in translation, always decide on which languages you want to work with. These pairs are usually of languages that you understand. One should be your Native language and the other should be a language that you understand well. It is very important to study your source language because this is what will help you in doing great translations for your target language. Your target language should always be the language you are familiar with, this should be your native language which you completely understand. Extensively studying your target language will enable you to know the different vocabularies and how they are used, the different expression, and what they mean. Relating meaning to your target language is easy than having to do a word-for-word translation where context might be lost. I guarantee you that this will help push your translation career forward.

2. Get specialized training.

There are professions that rarely need any kind of training but translation is not one of them. Just like in many other professions to be a professional translator, you need specialized training. Understanding and being fluent in your pair languages is not enough. That is flawed opinion people have about translation, that if you are good in two languages, then you are automatically a professional translator. You need a particular skill set in order to be a translator and you only get these skills through training. Being able to provide clear, efficient translation often requires specialized training besides language study. The good thing about translation as a profession is that you don’t have to take a 4 years long course in University, there are short training courses that will help you greatly in giving you skills to be a great professional and go as far as certify you. You might wonder, how you can get access to these institutions that offer training in translation. Depending on where you are, you can just google the best translation Institution and name a particular area. You will be surprised by how many institutions you will get.

3. Get certified.

As I mentioned on the point above, you need some form of training and education in order for you to get the important skills that will make you a professional translator. You should also make sure you go to an institution that will certify you after you are done with your training. A certification in translation is a simple way to show you have the skills necessary to do the work. This will make getting jobs easier than when you only have skills but not backed up with a certificate. Certificates show that you are legit and legal. Another thing to consider is getting non-language-related certifications in a field in which you’re interested in translating. For instance, becoming a certified paralegal could help you get translating work in the legal field by showing that you understand the industry.

4. Target a specific industry and learn industry-specific terms.

After extensive research on a particular language and mastering it well, it is important to have a particular industry that you would love to do translation works for. It might be the Medical, Law, Engineering, Education, or any other Industry you might think of. The reason for taking on a specific industry for your translation career is important is because it not only makes you a pro in that industry but it makes you a professional in both the industry and you can work there in any position and still work as a translator. You literally get to kill two birds with one stone. It also helps you in understanding the jargon to use because merely being fluent doesn’t always provide the relevant terminology you must translate, so you must put some additional focus into industry-specific terminology.

5. Hone your computer skills.

Firstly, you should understand that being a professional in any career in 2020 requires you to have some basic computer skills. It a requirement by a lot of companies that hire people. The same applies to translators. Foremost, you must have typing skills before anything else. You will do a lot of typing and your speed and accuracy will matter a lot in the long run. There are also lots of computer programs that you will need to learn how to use.

These skills will make your translation work more bearable and efficient. The mere fact that there are human and machine translators, doesn’t mean that as a human translator, you might not need the help of machine translators. One thing to note is that these two types of translators are mutually exclusive but can still work together. There are very many programs and computer software’s that can make translation really easy for you and that’s why having computer skills will take you far.

6. Get some experience.

There is this one thing that never really makes sense to me and it is the fact that employers want to employ people who already have experience in the industry that they are hoping to work for. One thing I always ask though, is if you don’t hire people without experience where are the ones without experience expected to get experience from? The same applies for translators, you need to have some kind of experience that can convince a client of the work that you do. Having a certificate alone won’t take you far. The helpful thing for translators is that you can get random written files in your specialty and translate them. These will go a long way when looking for a job. You can also try to get freelance translation jobs; they don’t really pay much but you are guaranteed of getting something small as your raise your experience bar.  

7. To further grow your career, learn more languages.

It is amazing that you have a language pair that you have thoroughly researched on and become a pro in but go ahead and learn more languages that you can work on and improve your capabilities and skills as a translator. We all want to be marketable and by this, I mean being relatable to different audiences that speak different languages. As I said it is okay to only be a pro in one language pair but you are not limited to that and wanting to do more and know more is something that you should strive for. You might want to acquire more languages that you can translate to expand your range of offerings. A good example would be, you are very good and fluent in both English and Portuguese, going a step further and learning French will increase your chances at getting more jobs in all these languages. You can translate from English to French and vice versa, English to Portuguese and vice versa, and also Portuguese to French and vice versa. Taking on more languages will definitely open more doors for you.

8. Learn to market yourself

It is very important to learn how to market yourself because this will take you far in your career as a translator. Attended career events and network, get to connect with people in the same industry as you on social media sites. You will be surprised by how easy it will be to navigate in any profession and grow when you have connections to people who have more experiences and will share with you. You can create a website, write blogs and join online groups of professional translators to build your network.

Whatever you do just be willing to make yourself better by either increasing the level of your skills, working on your character as a person, and be willing to learn. This will definitely take your career really far and make you a professional translator who is sought after.

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