Becoming a translator: Tips and errors to avoid

A translator’s role is to connect people and cultures. It is a difficult but enriching job—one where excellence is rewarded both financially and personally. For those thinking about entering the translation industry, here are some essential things to consider to offer good translation services:

To become a successful translator, you need knowledge

  • Language skills. A degree in translation and experience in a technical field are a plus. You can always begin as a volunteer or an intern to gain expertise.
  • Software skills: You need at least a basic knowledge of all MS Office applications. Knowledge of Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tools is also advantageous. 
  • Business skills. As a freelancer, you will need to negotiate with your clients as well as manage your own business practices.

Be aware of beginners’ errors that should be avoided

  • Avoid linguistic errors. Establishing a reputation for delivering quality translations on time is essential when beginning relationships with clients and agencies. Consistent grammatical mistakes, errors of usage, syntax or tense will deeply damage your reputation. To avoid these errors, do not take on work that you can’t handle and stay in your field of expertise.
  • Don’t wait for business to come to you; go and look for it. Search a wide range of potential clients and keep a record of all of your contacts.
  • Develop your network. To widen your web of connections, join some associations, ask for advice and get certified. The ATA- American Translators Association, the major translating association in the US is a good place to start.

Consider joining a Translation Agency

  • Extend your network. A translation agency can handle a large portfolio of clients; it is an ideal way for you to make useful contacts. Keep in mind that the translation market is close knit—the more people know of your work, the more opportunity you will have.
  • Improve your skills. The agency will train you to keep your knowledge fresh and to ensure the quality of your services. Consider also the benefit you can draw from your agency’s reputation.
  • Gain job security. In a current context of economic crisis, especially in the irregular translation market, job security is precious.

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