If you are good at languages and already speak a few, then you have many opportunities for a great career. The global business world welcomes a great multi-lingual talent. However, if you find marketing and negotiations interesting but don’t want to focus on that field, there is yet another option – become a translator or an interpreter.
What it takes to work in the field of translation and is this job the right fit for you are tough questions, to which we will try to provide an answer below.
Should you Become a Translator or Interpreter?
There are essential skills that a person needs to have in order to become a successful translator or interpreter. Some of the most important skills are critical thinking and strong attention to details, along with the ability to work on short notice and deal with tight deadlines. For a translator you need excellent reading comprehension and writing skills, while interpreters should be well-spoken and able to catch the nuances of a conversation and render them in the same way without their personal feelings or thoughts interfering.
If you love learning and constantly developing in the sphere of languages and beyond, then the job might be right for you. As a translator or interpreter you help people understand each other and have access to a great source of information.
What Makes a Translation Career Great?
There are many reasons why translation is an attractive field for career development. Here are several of the main ones:
- You constantly learn new things – your job requires that you keep in line with the new developments of the languages that you use as a translator/interpreter. In addition to that, you need to specialize in a certain field to be more competitive, which means that you need to follow the innovations in that field as well.
- You have flexible working time – you can work full or part-time as a translator/interpreter, depending on your preferences. There are different ways to complement your translation job and earn money. As a translator, you can also schedule your working time the way that works for you – work in the mornings or in the late hours of the night – whenever you feel more comfortable translating. As an interpreter, it is less flexible as your working time depends on the time and length of the event you are interpreting at.
- You meet new people – your job always gives you the opportunity to meet new people and with different backgrounds and cultures. You have the chance to help them understand each other and learn a lot from their interaction.
- You travel a lot – especially if you are interpreter, you often need to travel to new venues and attend conferences, seminars, and workshops. This enables you to learn a lot about the culture of the languages that you speak.
- You can work from home – as a translator you have the privilege to work from the comfort of your home or virtually from anywhere you prefer.
- You can be creative – the job of the translator and interpreter is not merely to render a text from one language into another but to do it properly, so that it retains its meaning, style and feeling. This part asks for creativeness in the person doing it. So, becoming an expert in translation will give you the chance to develop your creative side. You can even compete with other professionals in your field at a translation slam – a duel between two translators who compete in rendering the words of a given author in the best possible way.
These are just a few reasons why a translation career is so exciting. In addition to that it can be a good source of income, especially if you speak a more exotic language, for which there is a higher demand or if you specialize in any of the fast-growing business fields like IT or pharmaceuticals.
Misconceptions Related to Translation
There are many misconceptions related to the job of a translator and/or interpreter. The biggest one is perhaps that anyone who is bilingual or speaks a foreign language can do the job. A formal training on the subject is necessary. In addition to that, employers usually hire candidates who have at minimum a bachelor’s degree. Having studied something else in addition to languages is also a great plus for the job.
Another misconception is that the translator/interpreter is a one-stop-shop. While in many cases they have to translate a great range of documents and topics, most of the professionals are experts in a given field – IT, finance, medicine. This guarantees a higher quality of translation. Besides, it is very hard to translate something that you do not understand.
A common belief is also that the interpreter/translator simply needs to switch from one language into another and render the words. This is far from true. Each language has its specific cultural features that need to be taken into account. Localization happens simultaneously with translation so that the rendered text makes perfect sense to the listener. Knowing the peculiarities of the source and the target language is a must for any good translator/interpreter. Dealing with humor, jargon and specific terms is one of the greatest challenges a professional in the field faces. With time and practice, one learns how to cope with them.
Last but not least, people quite often confuse translators and interpreters and do not make a difference between the two activities. The basic difference between the two professions is that the translator works with written texts, while interpreters deal with the spoken word. Both professionals face similar challenges in their work like coping with cultural differences and style as mentioned above. It is not often that one and the same person exercises both activities, as in general you need different qualities and different approach to work in both fields.
As you can see, the job of the translator and/or interpreter can be quite challenging but also exciting and rewarding at the same time. If you have what it takes to be a part of this profession, then you should not think about it twice.