What do I need to be a translator? - How to Get Started in the Translation Business

What do I need to be a translator? - How to Get Started in the Translation Business

In this increasingly global business community, the writing is on the wall that the translation industry will grow tremendously in the coming years. International business, government, agricultural, medicinal, and service-related organizations all need documents, websites, advertising, files, and communications translated into multiple languages. Not to mention the literary translation needs as people hear about exceptional writers and artists from other nations on the internet and in their travels. The world is becoming smaller and its people more connected than ever before.

What if I want to get in on this growing business opportunity? What do I need to be a translator?

The answer would seem to be simple. In the United States, there are no legal requirements to becoming a translator. Simply become fluent in at least two languages and hang a shingle out on the internet. This is great if I don't need my translating career to make any money. Even though there are no legal requirements, clients are demanding certification as a professional translator to ensure proficiency in the skills of a translator. As far as skills go, what do I need to be a translator? Obviously, fluency in source and target languages is essential. Knowledge of the native speakers' cultures of those two languages is also important for understanding colloquialisms and iconic references in the document intended for translation.

In addition, translators must have excellent writing skills in both languages, including grammar, vocabulary, and style. A high level of ethics and understanding of industry ethics issues provides clients with trustworthy translators. Time and project management skills and an ability to meet a deadline are also completely essential. Certification programs can help train translators in these areas and the comprehensive, culminating exam proves proficiency and provides the certification credential. To start off after certification, what do I need to be a translator?

Experience. Most clients are reluctant to hire someone with little or no experience. There are several ways to gain this initial experience. If you can get signed on with a translation agency, this is the best possible solution because you can get paid while gaining experience. If no one will hire you, offer your services in exchange for an internship or apprenticeship at an agency. Working as a bilingual secretary is also a good way to get experience. What do I need to be a translator? Ingenuity, skills, experience, and persistence add up to success.

-By Adriana Tassini

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