Become a Translator

Happy International Translation Day !


As it is the International Translation day today, we thought we would do a quick blog about how to and why to become a translator.

Let’s start with what it means to be a translator.

Translators are people who deliver messages from a user of X language to a user of Y language. There are hundreds or language pairs that translators work with. A translator usually works with written words – on paper, online, on an electronic document and so on. People who do verbal translations are called interpreters.

We would say that to be a translator means to be creative, to be reliable, to be patient, to be understanding, and to be knowledgeable.

What do you need to become a translator?

What you need to become a translator, first of all, is a good command of the language pair you would like to work with. It could be any language, English to Spanish, English to Thai, Thai to Spanish, Spanish to French. In the world that is becoming more and more globalised each day, there is always a need for someone who can connect people of one language and culture to the other.

If you believe that you have a good command of 2 languages. The next best step to take is to dive in! Look for people who need translations – locally, on internet, and through freelancing websites. Offer your services. Start from general projects first, offer your services on voluntary basis where possible to gain experience and keep going until you have built enough confidence to work on more specific projects.

A question we usually get asked is, is it important to have a degree in translation? Our answer: it depends. It depends on various factors, if you can prove that you have an excellent level of fluency in the language pair you would like to work with, then we would say there is no need for the degree, however, there are still some training courses relevant to translation that you should take to learn more about the industry, the expectations, and about what translation involves. You can also join associations and take tests to become an accredited translator which will add value to your resume and help you to get more work.

Looking at what else we feel is important in order to become a translator;

Be Creative: translation is not as straight forward as it sounds at times. Once you start working as a translator you will come across a lot of text that cannot be translated directly, or if translated directly will lose its essence. You will need to be creative, think of words that you would no usually use, look for ways to deliver the message effectively, search online for examples, meanings and so on.

Be Reliable: it is important to be reliable in any profession, however, we cannot stress enough the importance of being a reliable translator. Delivering translations on time is of utmost importance. The best way to do this is to know how much you can work on each day and only accept the amount of work you know you will complete in the given time.

Be Patient and Understanding: when working as a translator you might have to deal with various requests from your clients, at times, the client might have their own language advisers who do not agree with your translations and might ask you to change some of your translation. Be patient and try to understand your client. Try to see where they are coming from. There might be cultural aspects of the language that you might not know about or the clients might have their own goals in mind for that particular translation that they have not communicated to you properly. Communications is the key – communicate with your clients and resolve any issues with patience.

Be Knowledgeable: what we mean here is that to become a good translator you need to be knowledgeable in your language pair, in the culture of the countries/places/people your translation is going to be used in/with. Read about different industries and different topics that you might receive translation work on. Get to know how different translation softwares work. Get to know ways that agencies and freelancing websites work. Also, learn about marketing to know how best to promote yourself.


And why become a translator?

Well, why not! Here is a list of why we feel becoming a translator is a good idea:

  • You will never be bored. There are always new topics that people need translations on. Ask any experienced translator and s/he will tell you a vast amount of different topics s/he has worked on.
  • You can work from anywhere. Most translators work on freelance basis which gives them a freedom to work from anywhere they like – a cafe, in a tree house, by the beach… as long as you have access to your laptop and internet, you are set.
  • The pay is good. Comparing to some of the other industries, translators get paid relatively well.
  • Good networking and learning opportunities.
  • It is a good way to develop entrepreneurial skills. Many translators go on to start their own translation businesses after some time.
  • It is rewarding. Once you see how your work is empowering others, you will feel a sense of fulfilment which is hard to achieve in 9-5 office jobs.

What other reasons do you need?

Ready to be a translator? There is not better time than the International Translation day to start!

Best of luck and happy International Translation day.