Become a Translator: Skills and Tips
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How to Become a Successful Translator

tips and skills to become a translator

For many translators, it’s a passion for words that pushes them toward a translation career. But does passion and the ability to speak a couple of languages means you will become a successful translator? What other skills do you need?

Skills You Need to be a Translator

There are a few things that are definite prerequisites for becoming a translator. Being multilingual is obviously one of them. Maybe you gained this skill from growing up knowing another language or learned a language in school, at a university or from experience overseas. One thing all translators have in common is a love of language and learning.

If you enjoy communicating, reading and teaching, you are partway there. It also helps if you enjoy words and have a great grasp of grammar. Finding the right way to express yourself in the target text is as important as understanding the source text.

Ideally, translators should be equally proficient in the source language and target language. The target language (the finished product) must have a similar style to the source product, and flow as if the document originally was written in that language.

Being fluent in a language does not mean you will necessarily become a good translator. Most translators will have lived in a country that speaks the source language, and have native skills in the target language.

I’ve compiled my top eight tips for those looking to become a successful translator. These tips will not guarantee that you get into the industry immediately, but they should help you avoid mistakes and speed up this process.

8 Tips to Become a Successful Translator

  • Choose a source and target language pair master that second language as if it were your own. Don’t stop learning more vocabulary and grammar rules within that second language.
  • Along those same lines, start studying the culture behind that language to find hidden meanings of words and inflections otherwise missed within writings that you will need to translate.
  • Study the industry by completing a translator training translation certification program.
  • Learn from industry experts and get mentored by  experienced professionals. You can take courses or listen to a translator audio expert interview series.
  • Be knowledgeable about translation industry ethics and never cut corners. Invest in your own career and take actions that always consider the longer term effects of what you are doing.
  • Subscribe to several industry blogs, forums, and newsletters to keep on top of trends and challenges that other translators face. Learn from their mistakes as well as your own.
  • Volunteer in the beginning or complete internships to build a translation client and project list that can bring you future work. This is critical to being a trusted, experienced, and highly sought after translation expert.
  • Find an area to specialize in to hone your skills and create a marketing focus. Whether this is business, legal, literature, medical, or technical areas; it’s best to specialize in one area. Each discipline has its own terms, phrases, language and jargon.

Follow these tips and you will save time and money while working to become a professional translator.

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