Contrary to popular belief, the job of a professional translator entails more than just being fluent in several languages. Much like in other jobs, professional translators need a lot of training and practice to become great at what they do. If you’re interested in this line of work, here are the most important things you should know:
• Test Yourself
The first thing you need to find out is whether you have what it takes or not. If you’re a native English speaker, taking a Defense Language Proficiency Test is the best way to assess your general proficiency in a specific foreign language. If your results are sufficient, it’s a good idea to put them on your CV and let your potential clients know you’re the right person for the job.
• Get a Certification
Once you know you’ve got the necessary skills, joining a certification program is the natural next step. A lot of universities and translation schools offer professional certifications and advanced degrees these days. Getting your certification through an organization like this will also put you on their website directories, which can be a big help when looking for a job. While becoming a certified translator is not exactly required, it’s probably the best place to start in the industry.
• Start Acquiring Experience
Entry-level jobs or internships are not very glamorous, but they’re usually a necessary stepping stone on your way to greatness. Having samples of your work on the ready for when those clients start calling is also fairly important – the best way to go about that is looking for translation opportunities wherever you can think of. Various organizations like police stations, law firms, language agencies or law firms are always on the lookout for translators and interpreters, so make sure to find those that are in your area and check in with them on a regular basis.
• Put Yourself on the Market
Starting a blog or website is the best way to have your work available to a wide audience. This is where having a good CV comes in handy, but you also need to make sure to price your services reasonably. If you’re not sure what rates you should charge, contact other translators to get a rough estimation.
• Never Stop Improving
This is more of a general advice, but you should try to avoid resting on your laurels. Professional translators should always be keeping up with the industry and its trends. The market for translation services is highly competitive nowadays, so persistence is the key to being a successful professional translator.