Career Development

What Does a Translator Do?

Find out what a translator does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a translator.

Translators are responsible for converting one language into another. They work with a variety of documents, including but not limited to: books, articles, poems, songs, movies, and more. Translators must be extremely detail-oriented, as they are tasked with taking the original meaning of a piece of writing and converting it into an entirely new piece of writing in another language.

Translator Job Duties

Translators have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Translating written documents such as manuals or technical instructions
  • Writing and revising translated text in order to ensure it is accurate and appropriate for a particular purpose
  • Communicating with clients throughout the translation process to ensure that they are satisfied with the work being done
  • Reviewing translated documents for clarity, consistency, and adherence to style guidelines
  • Conducting research on topics related to a specific text, such as historical background information or technical terminology
  • Working with other members of a translation team, such as interpreters, reviewers, or editors, to ensure projects are completed on time
  • Interpreting spoken language in real time during meetings, conferences, or events
  • Providing bilingual services for companies that do business internationally
  • Communicating with authors or other individuals who created the original work in order to ensure that the meaning has not been misrepresented or distorted

Translator Salary & Outlook

Translators’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of translation work they do. Some translators work freelance, charging by the word or hour.

  • Median Annual Salary: $58,000 ($27.88/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of translators is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

The continued growth of global trade and travel will lead to a greater demand for translators and interpreters. As more businesses and people around the world do business with each other, there will be a greater need for people who can communicate in more than one language.

Related: In-Depth Translator Salary Guide

Translator Job Requirements

There are a number of qualifications required to obtain a position as a translator. They include:

Education: Translators need at least a bachelor’s degree to be considered for employment. A degree in a field such as foreign languages, literature, linguistics or a closely related field is acceptable. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s degree in translation or a related field.

Training & Experience: Translators and interpreters receive most of their training through formal education. They may also receive on-the-job training in the form of mentorship from more experienced colleagues.

Certifications & Licenses: Translators are not required to have any certifications to earn their license. However, some translation organizations may require certified translators to work on specific projects or deals.

Translator Skills

Translators need the following skills in order to be successful:

Language skills: Translators need to have strong language skills, including grammar, punctuation and spelling. They need to be able to read and write in both languages they translate. They also need to be able to speak in both languages they translate. This requires excellent language skills in both languages.

Cultural knowledge: Cultural knowledge is the ability to understand the norms and values of a specific culture. Translators often work with people from other countries, so it’s important to understand the cultural differences between the two countries. This can help you provide the most accurate translation possible.

Computer skills: Computer skills are also important for translators. They use computer programs to translate documents and conduct research, so it’s important for them to have strong computer skills.

Research skills: Translators often need to conduct research to find the correct terminology for a translation. This can include searching for the right words in the source language and finding the correct words in the target language. Translators can also use research skills to find the correct cultural context for a piece of text.

Writing skills: Translators often write documents in the target language, so strong writing skills are important for this career. Translators may also write notes or emails to colleagues in their native language while working abroad.

Translator Work Environment

Translators work in a variety of settings, including corporate offices, government agencies, law firms, and translation companies. They may also work from home. Most translators work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week to meet deadlines. They may work evenings and weekends to complete rush assignments. Many translators work independently, but some work as part of a team of translators. In addition, some translators specialize in a particular subject area, such as law or medicine, or in a particular language pair, such as English to Spanish.

Translator Trends

Here are three trends influencing how translators work. Translators will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Machine Translation

The growth of machine translation is a trend that is quickly changing the translation industry. With the development of artificial intelligence, machines are now able to translate text from one language to another without the help of human translators.

This trend is having a major impact on the translation industry, as it is making it easier for businesses to expand into new markets. Translators can now focus on translating content that requires a high level of expertise, such as legal or medical documents, while machines can handle the simpler tasks.

Translator Education Will Become More Important

As globalization continues to accelerate, the need for translators will continue to grow. This means that translator education will become more important in the years to come.

Translators who are well-educated and up-to-date with the latest trends will be in high demand, as they will be able to provide the best possible service to their clients. In order to stay competitive, translators will need to make sure that they are keeping up with the latest developments in their field.

More Use of Local Languages in Global Business

The use of local languages in global business is becoming increasingly popular, as companies realize the importance of connecting with customers in a way that they can understand.

This trend is leading to an increased demand for translators who are fluent in both English and other languages. Translators who are able to bridge the gap between cultures will be in high demand, as they will be able to help businesses connect with customers in a way that is authentic and meaningful.

How to Become a Translator

Translators can work in a variety of industries, from healthcare to education to government. They may specialize in a particular language pair or subject area. No matter what your career goals are, it’s important to build a strong foundation in translation theory and practice.

Begin by learning about the different types of translation and how they’re used in different contexts. Then explore the various methods for translating text, including direct translation, paraphrasing, and machine translation. Finally, learn about the best practices for working with clients and collaborating with other translators.

Related: How to Write a Translator Resume

Advancement Prospects

Translators with a few years of experience may advance to positions as senior or lead translators, supervisory positions, or project managers. Some may become independent consultants. Some may also move into related occupations, such as interpreters, terminologists, or linguists.

Those with advanced degrees or extensive experience may become language program coordinators or directors. Some may also move into teaching, either at the college level or to train other translators.

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