Translators are communication and language experts who read, comprehend and translate written messages from one language to another. Most Translators are self-employed, but some may choose to work for an agency dedicated to providing such services.
Translators usually specialize in and work with two languages, their mother tongue and any other chosen language. However, they may also specialize in a third or even a fourth language, provided they possess high levels of fluency in either one.
There is a common misconception that Interpreters and Translators are the same. Even though they’re both language experts, these two careers shouldn’t be confused with one another, and the main difference between them is what they translate. While Interpreters work with oral communications, Translators work with the written word; notwithstanding, many of these professionals provide both types of services.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Translators are required to complete.
- Translating written communications from one language to another, adhering to the author’s original message, sense, and style to the greatest extent possible:
- Doing the necessary research before undertaking new projects in order to have a better understanding of the message’s context and to use the correct lingo, jargon, and other technical terms;
- liaising with Authors, if possible, in order to better understand the message they want to convey, as well as the literary and cultural aspects of the piece;
- studying and analyzing the particularities of the target audience;
- keeping cultural aspects of the target language in mind;
- translating content in all kinds of formats (e.g. journals, articles, books, poetry, short stories) into another language;
- using specialized tools, such as computer-assisted translation (CAT) software, in order to maximize efficiency;
- proofreading and correcting all pieces and already translated material, guaranteeing it’s error-free;
- reviewing the technical accuracy and logical structure of the document;
- modifying and editing the material according to the client or Editor’s feedback; and
- submitting final product within the pre-established deadline.
- Building specialized or technical glossaries, terminology banks, and a variety of resource databases by compiling data and information from already existing sources:
- Knowing specialized terminology and common terms in both languages (e.g. medical, legal, and administrative terminology).
- Translating texts and other documents from one language to another, maintaining a sense of style and pace that is similar to the original.
- Performing research on specific terms and technicalities related to the field at hand.
- Creating and updating a glossary or terminology bank that may be used in future projects.
- Maintaining a style and sense uniformity that goes along with the Author’s intended tone.
- Ensuring that time is managed in an efficient way in order to meet project deadlines.
The average Translator salary is $51,802 per year or $27 per hour. This is around 1.6 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $36,000 while most experienced workers make up to $73,000. These results are based on 79 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Excellent computer skills:
- Being proficient in word-processing programs and CAT tools.
- Strong grasp of the languages they’re working with, grammar structures, specialized or technical terminology, and proofreading.
- Impeccable communication and interpersonal skills:
- Writing clearly and effectively in the languages they translate;
- being capable of thinking through or understanding new, complex, and technical concepts in order to convey them through another language; and
- being capable of maintaining a friendly and professional relation with their customers.
- Possessing high levels of cultural awareness and sensitivity:
- Being knowledgeable about the cultural backgrounds of the target language and audience.
- Analytical and investigative skills:
- Effectively researching, reading, and interpreting information.
- Great attention to detail and high levels of thoroughness:
- Having outstanding proofreading and editing skills so as to accurately and efficiently review the final translations.
- Outstanding levels of honesty and responsibility:
- Handling sensitive or confidential information;
- being capable of separating their emotions and prejudice from their work; and
- following strict ethical guidelines and client confidentiality rules.
- Strong organizational and time management skills:
- Being able to comply with established deadlines;
- being capable of working under pressure and within tight deadlines;
- being versatile, flexible, and willing to work within constantly changing priorities; and
- having strong multitasking skills; being able to work independently and as part of a team in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
Having at least 3 years of work experience and a bachelor’s degree in Translation, Interpretation, Modern Languages, or English is essential for Translators. In fact, some companies only hire Translators who have related work experience. A good way for these professionals to learn firsthand about the occupation is to start working in-house for a translation company. Furthermore, doing some type of informal or volunteer work is also an excellent way for people seeking Translator jobs to gain experience.
Every professional Translator works under the premise of conveying the original message fluently; they provide the information following the same parameters observed by the original version (they stick to the same style, ideas, and facts) but must also allow the language to flow freely and error-free. Furthermore, Translators are obligated to accurately duplicate cultural references (e.g. slang, expressions), which are rarely translated literally. Likewise, they aim to provide a text capable of maintaining the author’s intention of transmitting a particular idea or impression to the readers in an understandable manner according to their context.
In Canada, The Canadian Translators, Terminologists, and Interpreters Council (CTTIC) is in charge of overseeing all licensing procedures for the aforementioned professions. This association also sets the industry’s standards and ensures they’re being met.