How to become a professional translator/interpreter

This article comes from the website ATLA and is titled “5 Steps to Becoming a Professional Translator”. I enjoyed this article because it talked about some very important steps required to become certified in translating, which in this day and age is incredibly relevant. The article also talks about becoming certified in interpreting which is oral translation. This is another beneficial addition because there aren’t many people who know that translation and interpreting are different and this article clearly points out the two. The 5 steps were: get certified; get tested; gain experience; market yourself; and keep learning. Each step included a how to on accomplishing the respective step and some also included Don’ts.

I think there is a lot to be learned from this article, especially for someone who would like to make a job of interpreting or translating. There are three very important take-aways from the article that I believe someone interested in the industry should take into consideration.  

The first being that translation/interpreting is not something you just do. You must practice and practice until you have gone beyond fluency. Someone interested in a career in translation or interpreting should continue to take classes in their non-native language as well as practice every day to remain fully fluent in the target language.

The second take-away is that you must become fully certified to get paid the big bucks. To get the coveted translating/interpreting jobs one must first pass the tests required to become fully certified in a language. This means taking a proficiency test with the target language and then also talk the professional translators certification test (not mentioned in the article but I have been in contact with many people who have taken or will be taking this test). The more qualified you are the more you will be paid for your services.

The third take-away is that market yourself (step 4). This is incredibly important because people who want to become translators or interpreters do not realize that they run their own business. They are the bread and butter so to say, they need to be the one handing out fliers or posting availability signs in areas where their services may be needed such as a courthouse, lawyer’s office, doctor’s office, etc. Students who are interested in this career should think about taking a marketing class or two to learn the basics at least.

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