Translation is a growing field. According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, demand for translators and interpreters is expected to increase by 18% by 2026. That’s significantly higher than average. These jobs are available in major corporations, translation service providers, media outlets, government agencies, just to name a few.
Professional translators can work full time as W-2 employees. They can also freelance. Some freelancers use their skills to work on very generalized translation projects. Others specialize by combining their expertise with their language skills to do very specific work. This includes:
- Legal translation
- Healthcare and medical translation
- App and software development
It’s a worthwhile field to consider if it interests you. Just know that no matter which direction you take your career aspirations, good translators have skills that go beyond being multilingual. A good translator is an efficient, well-organized multi-tasker. Most have a bachelor’s degree at a minimum.
Translation students and those in the very early phases of their careers can use any boost they can get. Fortunately, there are a host of helpful resources that are perfect for the translation student of today.
WordReference is a well-established, online language dictionary. You can use it to translate words to and from English and many other languages. It also has non-English capabilities.
It also has functions beyond that. The website contains verb conjunctions, word references, lists, and a variety of apps and tools. There are downloads and plugins available for iPhone, Android, Firefox, and Chrome. Finally, there are a variety of discussion forums that cover just about any language you might need.
As an emerging translator, you probably know that increased fluency means more job opportunities. When it comes to languages, consumption is the best way to accomplish this. The more you listen, watch, and read, the more you pick up. This is also a great way to learn languages as they are used in the ‘real world’. There are just some things that you cannot pick up in an academic environment.
The good news is that there is foreign language content everywhere. There are movies, tv shows, YouTube Videos, articles, and blog posts available for you to enjoy. Unfortunately, like everything else, you may not be able to consume this content when you find it. With Pocket, you simply drag the content into the app until you are ready for it.
When it comes to language learning, there are some things that you simply have to memorize. When you master items by memorizing them, they become second-hand knowledge. You don’t have to think about them anymore. You simply know them. This leaves you ‘brain space’ for concepts that require more thought.
In addition to this, research has shown that people with better memories are able to pick up new languages much more easily. Fortunately, you have the ability to improve and strengthen your memory.
Flashcards remain a great tool for committing things to memory. They are simple to use and easy to create. The Quizlet app lets you create and store various sets of flashcards with ease.
People have varying opinions about CAT tools. Some feel as if they are a bit of a cheater’s way out. Others believe they produce less than ideal translations. While both points have some merit, let’s be realistic. You will have translation projects that require computer-aided translation. By learning to use CAT tools, you add something valuable to your skill set.
There are simply some translation projects that cannot be completed manually. Imagine having to translate 25K employee profile sheets into another language with a ten-day deadline! MemoQ is a popular, reasonably easy to use CAT tool. You should strongly consider learning more about it.
In many cases, a translator isn’t simply expected to provide their customer with a translated document. Instead, the translated content must be well-written and ready to serve its intended purpose. This means it must be well-written, edited appropriately, and written in a way that it is relevant to the intended audience.
If you aren’t a native English speaker, this can be challenging. In addition to this, there are times when you really want to put your best foot forward to impress a client. These are the times where you might consider hiring a professional service to edit and proofread your final product. Pick Writers provides comprehensive reviews that you can use to help select the company that is best for your project.
What can you do to improve your language skills if you want to specialize? For example, how do you master a new language if you decided to focus on healthcare related translations? What if your area of expertise is education? Myngle is an educational resource for professionals who want to learn languages as they apply to their field.
If you sign up for Myngle, you will be given access to a coach. You’ll also have a learning plan created just for you.
Would someone in Spain understand this cultural reference? How do I know this story is believable to someone that lives in Hong Kong? Who are some popular sports figures in Brazil? These are just some examples of questions that come up as you are trying to translate or localize content.
Unfortunately, there’s just no way for you to have complete cultural or historical understanding of every other country or region. Instead, you will have to rely on research and other information sources. When you need extra help, Quora is a great resource. You can use the forum to ask questions about various cultures and other language topics. Even better, you can contribute your own knowledge by answering others questions.
As a translator, you will frequently find yourself juggling several projects at once. If this sounds familiar to you as a student, that’s not surprising. The good news is that the same app you might be using to stay on top of your school projects also works well for professional translators.
That tool is Evernote. It is perfect for taking notes, creating and organizing projects, even collaborating with others. If you aren’t using it already, download this app and try it out!
We would never recommend a conversational phone app like DuoLingo to learn languages for translation. It’s simply not advanced enough for that. In spite of this, we still think it’s a great tool for translation students. As a student now, and as a translator in the future, you will have to interact with people who speak languages other than your own. This includes translation clients and other translators. If you can converse with them clearly and understand their needs, your interactions with them will be more fruitful.
This is where DuoLingo can help. Use it to get up to speed on a variety of languages so that you can comfortably hold conversations with native speakers.
Where would you go if you wanted advice on a project? Where would you find experienced translators to ask for career advice? What if you just wanted to vent or share funny war stories with people who understand you?
Nearly every field has at least one forum where people can discuss the issues that impact them. For translators, that place is TranslatorsCafe. It’s an online resource and discussion forum designed for translators and interpreters. Give it a try!
The field of translation is booming. This is good news, but it also means you should expect stiff competition as an entry level translator. To make yourself more competitive, check out the tools listed above. They can help you pick up useful skills, learn about your field, and stay as organized as you need to be.
Author: Kristin Savage has graduated from Columbia University where she was majoring in German group of Languages. Besides English as her mother tongue, she also speaks German and Dutch fluently. Currently, Kristin is studying Spanish and planning to obtain her PhD in Applied Linguistics since she is interested in extent practical knowledge of language processes in everyday life.