Steps towards becoming a professional translator in the current Translation Market
Have you just finished a language degree? Do you have your entire professional future before you? Here are the best steps that we recommend for you to follow in order to unlock your potential in the field of translation.
The professional translators I currently work with were all once in the same situation that you are in now. As future translators, it is normal for you to ask yourselves what you are going to do when you have finished your studies.
Here are a few simple steps in becoming that professional translator you have always dreamed of being with a few tips of advice straight from our professional translators.
1. Get to know your market
Whether you are based in the UK, Spain or abroad you must be aware of the current situation in the translation sector. It is essential that you search the top agencies if you wish to work in-house focusing on recommendations, proz company reviews and translator forums to make sure you avoid scams. If you are planning on working freelance, talk to fellow translators or consult professional associations and based on your skills, experience and expertise establish your minimum rates and do not be pushed into dropping them. Find out the standard prices used in your country and do not use prices that are neither too high nor too low.
2. Expand your language skills
So you have studied a degree in German, Spanish and Portuguese, but would you say you are fluent in all these languages? The best way to increase your skills as a translator is to immerse yourself in the languages you are going to be working with. If possible, go work in another country, get to know the culture and practice your professional communication skills which will come in useful when liaising with future clients and of course when it comes to the translation of documents.
The best translators are those who are specialized in a very specific niche which they know inside out in both of their working languages. Do not just choose something that you think will make you money, as remember you will be spending a lot of time reading and writing about said topic! Choose a field you are passionate about and enjoy researching. If you hate finance and numbers, chances are you will get bored after reading three pages on the subject. It would be beneficial to choose something you are already interested in. If you have a technical background (i.e. if you studied Law or Medicine, and are familiar with the terminology of those fields), you would be best off pursuing a career as a legal or medical translator.
This perhaps goes without saying, yet it is vital that translators are professional in any of the aspects in which they work given the ethical responsibility which is inherent to this vocation. Professionalism encompasses a range of qualities that should define all translators and which are necessary to have when embarking on your professional career in translation. Your must work quickly yet efficiently, producing the best work to your ability in the shortest amount of time. Get to know your limits and remember the old saying; quality over quantity. Translators must have empathy and be aware of their environment. We are instruments of culture and communication, and it is essential that translators are curious to learn more about what they are translating. Professionalism also includes reliability, in respecting deadlines and commitments with clients, as one missed deadline can guarantee that you will not hear from that client again. Finally translators are born multitaskers. This side of our professional nature means that we can work under stress and are able to handle various projects at once. All potential translators should present the above skills when at the cusp of embarking on their professional lives.
Most importantly: have determination and do not give up. One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is to follow these steps to unlock your potential and work towards giving your clients an image that can trust in: a specialized, professional translator with copious knowledge of their working languages. Training as a translator does not finish when you leave University, it is a life-long mission that even for us, is still ongoing.