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Translation Career

Career Description

Translation Career

If you know more than one language and enjoy reconstructing knowledge and concepts from one language to another then a translation career could be the career for you.

What Do Translators Do?

Translators convert written material from one language into another while retaining the meaning as much as possible. This usually requires an excellent command over two or more languages. Typical work activities of translators include:

  • Reading through the original text and rewriting it in the target language while retaining the meaning of the source text;
  • Providing expert consultation where specialist knowledge is needed;
  • Using specialized dictionaries, thesauruses and reference books to translate specialized terminology;
  • Writing subtitles for films, documentaries and television programs; and
  • Liaising with clients or original writers to discuss points of confusion.

Translators may work on literary, legal, scientific, technical, commercial and/or educational documents. Translators will possibly work for translation agencies, directly for clients or as in-house translators in organizations. However, many are self-employed and work as freelancers. As a result of different assignments, work hours of self-employed translators vary and may not be limited to regular business hours.
Education and Training Requirements
A specific educational background is not needed for a translation career though formally studying foreign languages, computer literacy, writing and comprehension courses in high school can be helpful. However, individuals do require at least a bachelor’s degree for acquiring a job. 
Since translating can be fairly technical, formal training through specialized courses at colleges, universities and training institutions is generally required. Working in highly specialized fields, like legal firms or medical care, might require on-job training.
Work experience is considered essential and often agencies and organizations only hire translators with at least a couple of years of experience in the field. Internships are a good way of gaining experience.
Though there is no particular requirement for certification for translators, you may attempt language proficiency tests which show your level of expertise. The American Translators Association also offers certification to its members and covers 24 languages and their translation to English.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual pay of translators was $43,300 in May 2010. The pay scale varies mostly depending on the language, subject matter, skills, experience, certification, education and employer. 


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