The world is in a seemingly never-ending stage of globalization and as this continues the need for international communication increases. According to http://www.collegeboard.com, "Government economists expect job growth for translators to be faster than the average for all careers through 2012."
What is a translator?
A translator is a person who converts written material from one language into another. This job should not be confused with an interpreter – one who converts spoken material. Although there are similarities between these two job types, a translator is rarely exposed to the special skills of interpreting, whereas interpreters often are required to develop skills in translating. Translators may be required to convert all kinds of written material, such as books, manuals, poetry, newspaper and magazine articles, or other documents, sometimes for a single interested individual.
Professionals in the field of translating almost always have:
♣ At least a college degree
♣ Advanced degrees in specialized areas of study
♣ University level language training in the languages other than their first language
♣ Lived in the countries where their languages are spoken
A good translator is bilingual. There are different advantages for both born and bred bilinguals, and for those who become bilingual later in life. One doesn’t necessarily make a better translator than the other.
Aside from an extensive knowledge of both a source and target language, and a firm grasp on the qualifications associated with writing and editing, translators need to possess several other traits. Several of these valuable characteristics include:
♣ Well-read and possess a wide vocabulary
♣ A good writer
♣ Awareness of social customs and varieties of speech in a particular country
♣ Dedication and patience
♣ Able to work alone for long periods of time
♣ Specialization in some other specific area of study
Where do you begin?
Leila Razmjou, a professor with a BA in Translation and an MA in Linguistics, advises aspiring translators to begin by analyzing different translations in order to improve the skills needed in actual translation. She also suggests obtaining an acute awareness of the social context the source text is written in, as well as research into the country and its social customs. Furthermore, a translator needs to recognize various figures of speech and expressions within that country, pay attention to new developments in language and should constantly research vocabulary and colloquialisms in order to provide accurate translations. These qualifications can achieve through academic courses, jobs, self-study, and other related experience. Translators are always learning and improving their language skills throughout their careers.
Translators usually work in one of two occupational settings:
♣ Freelance translator: works as one’s own boss, manages marketing, invoicing, accounts, taxes, equipment purchases, maintenance, often endures long hours and solitude while working. Freelance writer Mara Mirsky warns, "freelance work demands constant attention, but it can be rewarding for those who like to work at home, or who want to work on particular hard-to-find subjects."
♣ In-house translator: works for someone else, such as a company, works in an office, attends meetings to discuss projects, and goes to training sessions in order to keep up to date on how to use new technology and equipment.
Freelance translators may make more money per year on average than in-house translators but this definitely varies. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that a translator averages $36,500 a year. However, income can reach up to $100,000 (www.collegeboard.com).
Is translating for you?
Being a translator is challenging and requires much dedication, patience, and a love for language and writing. It can be a tedious and time-consuming process. However, the personal rewards of translating can be remarkable. The satisfaction of an accurate translation is worth the time and effort.
Read Leila Razmjou's article, "To Be A Good Translator"
Read Maya Mirsky's article, "Launching a Translation Career"
Page developed by Ana Dragovic and Kristin Key 11/14/05