How young can you be to learn to translate?

February 29, 2024
How young can you be to learn to translate?

For many people, a career in translation is born of a sincere passion for languages. This is something that can develop from an early age, particularly with exposure to two or more languages as a child. So how young can you be to turn that interest in linguistics into work as a translator?

Early foundations

For young translators, the early foundations of language learning may be behind their future career. Children raised in bilingual households have the perfect building blocks should they later wish to pursue a job in translation. 

For others, second language learning is something that they are not exposed to until schooling begins. Nevertheless, the seeds of a passion for language can still be sown at a young age. 

Other considerations

It’s not just linguistic ability that means someone can begin working as a translator. An individual needs to be mature enough to appreciate the relevance and importance of matters like client confidentiality and attention to detail. They also need to be disciplined enough to ensure translations are completed not just to a high standard but also in time to meet deadlines. 

So just how young can you be to learn to translate?

The answer really depends on the individual in question. For a rare few, who have been raised in bilingual households and who are naturally suited to the working world, it is possible to work as a translator by the age of around 16/17. However, for the majority of people a translation career could more appropriately begin around the start of their 20s. 

Many of these young professionals will have just completed, or be on the brink of completing, their formal education and will be looking to transfer their enjoyment of studying languages into the translation sector in order to start their careers. No doubt, like all of us, they will grow and shape what they have to offer as translators as the years pass, but it is certainly feasible that they can begin to establish themselves in the sector at this age. 

Final thoughts

When did you first start translating? Were you very young or did you come to the translation sector later in life? Share your thoughts via the comments. 

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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