What It Takes To Be a Good Translator

If you think a career in translation is right for you we have compiled a list of attributes of a great translator and tips to get you off to a good start.

1. It is a common misconception that being fluent in more than one language will make you a good translator. In all actuality much more is needed. Translators continually study their native language as well as their source language(s). Besides the languages themselves, translators need to have a deep understanding of their culture and audience.

2. It is a good idea to get certified by the ATA (American Translators Association). While it isn’t always an absolute requirement, many agencies prefer to work with someone who is certified. You can check out the steps and tests you will need to take to become certified on their website: http://www.atanet.org/

3. Apart from being an expert at languages, you should have experience in a specific field (i.e. – medical, technical, legal, etc.). All of our translators have a specialization due to previous work experience or studies. Many linguists have worked in a specific field for many years and became translators later on in their careers. Terminology will differ across fields so it is necessary to have knowledge and experience in individual fields and understand where they differ. For example, a translator could be a medical translator specializing in medical devices and services.

4. As a follow-up to point 3, you should subscribe to any publications in your specialization in both your native and source language(s). This will help you keep up with any terminology changes in your specialization.

5. Lastly, it is essential that you familiarize yourself with translation tools and software. The most widely used are Trados and Across. Argo uses Across which is a web-based program that is free for the linguist to use. Across also offers free training for linguists interested in using the program. It has become ever important for clients to see and have access to savings on translation memory. Using translation tools is the only way to produce efficient and consistent translations while at the same time creating valuable savings for the client.


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