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Thinking of becoming a Translator?

Thinking of becoming a Translator

Since the dawn of modern language, people have educated themselves in the dialects of other cultures. Communication today is still in its simplest form, the same as when the concept of translation was introduced. Granted, digital and technological advances have made the use of translators less frequent for fast turnaround projects, however we will always need that human interaction whether it be for interpretation or for content creation to feed NMT engines. Multilingual’s will always have a place in the industry. With new crowd-sourcing initiatives in place, non-professional language enthusiasts have an entry level opportunity in the industry to exercise their talents within a number of Post-Editing or Proof Checking roles.

So, given that translation tech is on the rise, is becoming a translator a viable career choice? The answer to that is ‘most definitely’. No matter how advanced a neural machine is, the fact remains they need to be fed with content to grow. This content is produced by humans. The results are checked by humans. The quality assurance is performed by humans. So, whilst the landscape of the industry is fast evolving and human interaction between clients and translation providers may be less than say ten years ago, the need for tangible language input and expertise is still very much alive.

Before taking the leap into the translation arena, you need to understand and appreciate it takes a certain skill set. There is a trifecta you must have to truly succeed. We are here to give you the inside track on the three key skills required to have a flourishing career in the language industry.


Seems obvious? Well it is, but this skill set is the foundation of the first steps into the industry. So many self professed bi and multilingual’s take the plunge without fully understanding the level of native language proficiency required to deliver results to a high standard. Accreditation as a ‘translator’ or ‘linguist’ is only truly appreciated when this person has a high level grasp of both the source and target language. It is a vital part of ‘localization’ that national, regional and even local dialect is respected and used when required, as this could be the difference between a successful result and failure. But don’t worry too much. There are machine translation options out there now that can assist and should you choose not to become an out and out translator, there are other non-professional roles such as Post Editing career options that will still utilize you lingual skill set and offer great prospects.

Written Competency

People looking to become a serious translator need to possess not only verbal skills, but reading and writing ability is imperative in establishing yourself as a truly proficient linguist. The conversion of source to target in written form is an enviable skill set and one that, if achievable, will stand you in good stead for a long and prosperous career in the industry. Establish a writing style, be able to adapt and be creative with your translation whilst maintaining a respect for the source content to communicate it in the manner it was intended. Mastering written translation will open many doors and opportunities including Post Editing, Transcreation and Content Publishing. So think seriously about this option.

Subject-Matter Expertise

Translating words is only a fraction of a linguists job. The translation of specific subject-matter means you not only have to convert the source to target language but communicate the true meaning of the source. Understanding the reason and meaning behind the projects you are translating is key to a successful delivery. Having a background in a topic or field outside of translation is an asset you should exploit. Say you are a college science or technology graduate or have diplomas or vast experience in sports or fitness, these experiences should be called upon and enhanced so you can excel in specialist areas. Too many clients are allocated linguists with no experience and some cases, no interest in the subject-matter, which only set them up for poor quality results. If you decide to venture into the industry, make sure you play your strongest suit and utilize the knowledge of other fields to help you find your niche.


These three core competencies are vital to succeed, however there are other helpful hints and tips that we can share with you to help you decide if translation is for you.

  1. Read more : Digest more content in your chosen languages. Expand modern vernacular so you are up to date with current phrasing and structure.
  2. Study more : You never stop learning. If you think you have a niche subject-matter, then keep it fresh. Keep up to date so you become the best translator in that specific field.
  3. Practice : Without regular interaction as linguists verbal skills can become stale. Make sure you are active in target language social circles, forums and groups that allow you to stay sharp.
  4. Collaborate : Try to network with other professionals and see if they require assistance at any level so you have an entry experience into certain projects or crowd-sourcing opportunities.

If you feel that the language industry might be for you and would like information about potential roles or opportunities, why not contact us at jobs@jonckers.com.


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