How do I Become a Translator?

A translator is someone who converts text or speech from one language to another. From those who translate live speech to those who translate pre-recorded speech for dubbing, to those who translate books and poetry, there are many different ways to serve as a translator. Being a translator can be very lucrative, especially if you are fluent in a language that is in high demand. To become a translator, you’ll need a lot of effort, as well as a high level of fluency in at least two languages and, in many cases, a degree.

The majority of people choose to work as a translator in their native language because they are likely to have a high enough level of fluency in it to write or speak flawlessly in it. The next step is to choose which language you’d like to translate into. You can simply begin where you left off if you are already fluent in another language, such as if you were raised in a bilingual household. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll have a longer road ahead of you, but you’ll also have more leeway in selecting the language that will bring you the most money. Look around in the field where you want to work as a translator and see where there are significant gaps in the market.

At the same time, for the vast majority of people, becoming a translator in a language with a high demand and a high demand growth, rather than a lack of translators, makes sense. While there may be tens of thousands of Mandarin translators and only a handful of Cherokee translators, it is likely that translating from Mandarin will be much easier than translating from Cherokee. Of course, if there is a language that appeals to you personally, it may be worthwhile to learn it, even if the job opportunities are limited.

You’ll need to decide what type of translation work you want to do once you’ve mastered your language. You’re probably born with a skill set that predisposes you to one field or the other. To translate written text, for example, you must be able to write fluently in your native tongue; otherwise, your translations will be of poor quality, regardless of how fluent you are. Similarly, many people can’t keep track of speech when it comes at them in a steady stream and they have to recite words back, so working as a live speech translator isn’t a good fit for them.

Many translation jobs don’t require a degree, and you might be able to find work right away sending samples to potential employers. However, a specialized degree can demonstrate to potential employers that you have a foundation of skills, and some organizations offer certification programs in specific translation fields. If you want to work in technical translation, which is a lucrative field, you should take classes or read extensively about the areas you want to work in, as having a good working understanding of the technical language will be critical to getting jobs and doing them well.