Career Development

How To Become a Localization Specialist: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn about the steps important to pursuing a career as a localization specialist, including education, skills, salary and more.

Localization specialists are responsible for adapting content to a specific geographic market. This can include translating text, modifying images and videos, and adjusting cultural references to better resonate with the target audience. Localization specialists typically have a background in linguistics, marketing or communications. If you are interested in becoming a localization specialist, this article will outline the steps you need to take to pursue this career.

What Does a Localization Specialist Do?

A localization specialist is a language expert who adapts content to make it appropriate for a specific region or market. This can involve translating text, adjusting cultural references, and ensuring that local regulations are met. Localization specialists typically work with marketing and advertising materials, but they may also work on website content, software, and video games.

Their duties might include:

  • Translating text into the target language while preserving the original meaning
  • Adjusting cultural references in the text to be relevant for the target audience
  • Checking the text for errors and ensuring it meets all local regulations
  • Coordinating with other team members, such as designers and developers, to ensure the final product is accurate and consistent
  • Researching the target market to understand the needs of the audience
  • Creating style guides and glossaries to help maintain consistency in future projects
  • Managing multiple projects at once and meeting deadlines

Localization Specialist Salary and Job Outlook

The average salary for a localization specialist is $58,195. This figure can vary based on the level of experience, education, industry and geographical location of the specialist.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job prospects for localization specialists to increase at a faster than average rate over the next decade. The demand for these professionals will likely grow as more companies expand their operations into new global markets. Localization specialists play an important role in helping companies to effectively communicate with customers in different cultures.

How to Become a Localization Specialist

Here are several steps you should take to become a localization specialist.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in translation, linguistics, or a related field

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for most localization specialist jobs. Many employers prefer candidates to have a specialization in translation or linguistics, but degrees in other subjects can also be useful depending on the type of localization work you want to do. For example, a computer science degree can be helpful if you want to specialize in software localization.

It’s important to choose a program that provides you with hands-on experience and training. This will help you develop your skills and prepare you for the types of projects you’ll work on as a localization specialist.

2. Become a certified translator through the American Translators Association

The American Translators Association offers a certification program for translators who have at least three years of full-time experience translating. To earn the certification, you must pass an exam that includes both written and oral components. The written portion tests your translation skills, while the oral section assesses your communication skills.

The certification from the American Translators Association can help you find work as a freelance translator or in a corporate environment. It also provides you with opportunities to advance in your career through additional training offered by the association.

3. Gain experience translating documents and other materials

As you pursue your career as a translator, it’s important to gain experience translating different types of materials. You can do this by working under the supervision of an experienced professional in your field or taking on freelance work. This will help you build your portfolio and develop the skills needed to become a localization specialist.

You may also consider pursuing internships with companies that translate documents or other materials into multiple languages. Working for these organizations can provide you with valuable experience and connections that can be helpful in finding employment after graduation.

4. Develop strong research skills

As a localization specialist, you may need to research topics related to the products you work with. For example, if you’re working on an app that helps people find nearby restaurants, you might need to research zoning laws and other regulations regarding where businesses can operate.

You should develop skills for finding reliable sources of information online and evaluating their credibility. You also need to be able to read and understand technical documents and instructions.

5. Stay up to date on changes in technology that can affect your work

Technology is constantly changing, and localization specialists need to stay up to date on the latest developments. For example, online retailers often update their websites frequently to reflect new products or sales. Localization specialists who are not familiar with the latest technology may have a harder time keeping these sites updated.

It can also be helpful for localization specialists to use translation software and other technological tools that can make the process of translating and updating websites easier.

6. Join professional organizations such as the American Translators Association

The American Translators Association offers a variety of benefits to its members, including networking opportunities and training courses. The association also provides translators with certification options that can help them advance in their careers. For localization specialists, the association’s Certified Translation Project Manager credential can demonstrate your ability to manage projects from start to finish.

The American Translators Association also offers information about trends in the translation industry and job listings on its website. Membership in the association is optional but can be beneficial for those who want to work as localization specialists.

7. Consider pursuing a master’s degree in translation or linguistics

While a master’s degree is not required to become a localization specialist, it can help you advance in your career. Many employers prefer localization specialists who have a graduate-level education. A master’s degree program in translation or linguistics can provide you with advanced knowledge of the field and prepare you for leadership roles.

A master’s degree may also be helpful if you want to specialize in a certain language. For example, a Master of Arts in Translation: Japanese program offered by the University of Texas at Austin provides students with an in-depth understanding of the nuances of this language.


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