Profession or Passion? The Multi-faceted Career of a Professional Translator

Translation Career

Translation can be a tremendously rewarding career, either as a full-time vocation or as a supplement to other freelance gigs. It teaches one attention to detail and creative composition, which enhance writing skills. Translation is not simply a word-by-word rendering of a text from one language to another, but also implies recreating the “soul” of a text into a different language. High creativity is needed by the skilled translator to perform his or her job, as well as technical capabilities.

 Freelance Translators, Proofreaders and Editors

Many translation companies and government entities have in-house translators that provide their employees the stability of a full-time job and a regular client base. However, a lot of translators work as freelancers. While this type of job does not provide them with stability, freelance translators enjoy the flexibility of a virtual job and location independency. A quality and speedy translation is key for the livelihood of freelance translators, as they aim at establishing a reputation and a stable client base.

Translators usually specialize in one or more fields, as most translation agencies seek out specialized translator with subject matter expertise. Among the different types of translations there are:

  • legal translation (i.e. translation of treaties, contracts etc…), this specialization is extremely complex as it implies understanding the socio-political and cultural implications behind the text and recreating it for the target audience;
  • commercial translation (i.e. translation of business reports, tender documents, company correspondences etc…);
  • literary translation (i.e. translation of poems, plays, novels etc..), one of the most difficult types of translation, involving translating figures of speech, cultural nuances, prose and emotions.

Proofreaders work on the first translation draft and they screen for typographical errors and inconsistencies in the text. Their job is to ensure the quality of the finished product. An editor reviews the work and takes responsibility for the finished product by managing the proofreaders.

Translation Project Managers and the Localization Industry

The role of translation project managers is primarily customer facing (i.e. private companies, government agencies etc.). Translation project managers recruit linguists, negotiate rates with the client or the freelancer and provide the job quote.  Their tasks also involve marketing and costumer service.

Localization is a fast growing industry, and it involves the adaptation of a product to the requirements of a given “locale”, meaning a specific union of cultural and linguistic features. Game localization is a growing subfield of localization, and translators work on translating and localizing the gaming interface, as well as associated websites, marketing materials, voice overs etc.

Technology has Changed the Translation Profession

Nowadays, most translators are required to translate using Computer-Assisted translation tools. Most translators use translation memory and terminology management software, software that archives a translator’s previous work for future use. Freelance translators usually receive a translation memory, along with the project they need to translate. Translators and translation companies share translation memories, which ensure that the terms used are consistent with previous use and thus there is consistency of terminology across the work from different translator.

Translation is an incredibly rewarding career and translators are the ultimate communicators. They enable the world to communicate across borders and countries to share ideas and innovation. Good translators are able to penetrate a text in order to understand its hidden nuances and communicate them seamlessly in another language for a different target audience. If a translation is of top quality, you will not be able to tell it was originally written in another language, and you will think it is a beautifully written piece of literature.

This article is written by a professional writer, Ilaria Ghelardoni, associated with Ulatus.  

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