How to become a successful professional translator

January 4, 2016
How to become a successful professional translator

In translation, as in any other career, there are those who undertake the work because it is their calling – they simply can’t imagine doing anything else. There are also those who approach translation purely due to the potential financial benefits or the flexible working hours in the case of freelancers. 

So, is there a traditional career path that can be followed in order to achieve success as a professional translator? The quick answer is ‘yes,’ but that’s far from the only way to get into the business and to ensure you succeed. 

The academic approach

The traditional route into translation is much like that into any other field – work hard at school on your chosen subject (in this case, languages), gain a higher education qualification (many universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in translating and interpreting) and then head out into the world of work. Apply for jobs at translation companies and agencies and then perform over and above average in order to advance your career. 

Additional certification

There is also a range of other certifications that you can apply for in order to maximise the chances of success in your professional translation career. Numerous bodies offer certification for those who have developed the skills needed for medical or legal translation, for example. Adding these to your resume will help you to stand out from the crowd and showcase your expertise. 

Lifelong learning

In addition to gaining certifications as you progress your career, you will need to embrace lifelong learning in order to achieve true success. Languages are not static and you will need to keep up to date with new words and any official changes. Portuguese, for example, has seen a number of orthographical changes over the years. The most recent was implemented in 2009, when diphthongs were changed, the umlaut was eliminated, silent letters were eradicated and the rules around capitalization and the use of hyphens were changed. 

Embracing the opportunity to learn, practising your skills whenever possible and ensuring that you are as qualified and certified as you can be will all stand you in good stead when it comes to becoming a successful professional translator. 

Final thoughts

How did you come to be a professional translator? What career path did you follow to achieve success in the translation industry? Let us know via the comments section. 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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