Looking to try a career as a professional freelance translator? Get to know the must-have skills you should gain and improve for success in the field.
What is the secret to being a brilliant and successful translator? That’s probably the question on your mind if you just started working as a translator or are already a professional translator and you want to improve your practice.
First of all, anyone venturing into freelance translation should know that the field is one of the most lucrative out there. Translators are well compensated for their services, and their demand continues to go up as more and more businesses expand to international markets. A career as a translator is a great idea only if you have what it takes to succeed in the industry. But qualifications and some knowledge in two or more languages alone won’t cut it.
In this article, we'll tell you the vital skills you need to develop to make it in this profession. Use them to become a successful professional translator.
Fluent Reading and Comprehension Skills in The Source Languages
To make your mark as an excellent translator, you will need to be fluent or nearly fluent in the language you will be translating from. And here we are not just talking about speaking and writing, but also reading and comprehension. You must be able to read the material presented to you in the source language without difficulty and understand what it means and give the correct translation.
How to gain better reading and comprehension skills:
- Visit the country or region where the source language is widely spoken and spend time observing, reading, and listening to materials in the language while you are there.
- Take a course in the foreign language you have chosen.
- Practice as often as you can with materials in the language to achieve fluency.
- Consult the right style and language guide references.
Excellent Cultural Background in the Source and Target Languages
The hardest obstacle for skilled translator is to overcome cultural barriers. You can learn everything about a language in a classroom or dictionary except cultural intelligence. However, this skill is essential where transcreation and localization are needed, as you will be required to relate with the audience who will read the text you are translating. If you only translate words to preserve the meaning of the text, you might not be giving your client the best service.
Acquiring cultural intelligence improves your translation skills and helps you work more efficiently with people from different cultures. Moreover, you understand what is appropriate or inappropriate in the language you are translating to.
Tips to improve your cultural skills:
- Spend time with people whose language you are learning to know their culture.
- Read plenty of literature in your target language.
- Listen to radio stations in the foreign language.
- Watch films and TV in that language to learn about their culture.
Adequate Writing Skills in Your Native Language
Exceptional writing skills, especially in your native language, are necessary if you want to become successful as a professional translator. You need to be conversant with grammar as well as the writing styles employed in your native tongue. If you are bilingual but not that good in the target language, you should only translate to your native language. See, your translations will mostly be read by native speakers who also happen to have an understanding of the field in which you translate. Thus, if you cannot write at their level, they probably won’t understand your texts.
If you want to become a professional translator and improve your writing skills in your native language, do the following:
- Buy and continuously refer to style and language guides. Also, be sure to keep these resources updated.
- Watch TV, listen to the radio, and read journals/newspapers in your target language.
- Take CE (Continuing Education) classes to improve your language and writing style.
- Work with accomplished proofreaders and take note of the changes they make to learn.
- If possible, spend a lot of time in the country where your target language is spoken to improve your fluency in the language.
Ability to Specialize
Successful professional translators often possess adequate knowledge on specific subjects. As such, they are better placed to discuss the subject matter in the target language the same way it is portrayed in the source language. To ensure that you pick the right field, select an area of expertise from your professional or educational history. Alternatively, you can take classes to learn more about a discipline you are interested in. Specializing in a specific subject will make it easier for you to market yourself.
To be successful here is what you can do:
- Pick an area of specialization that is related to your professional or academic background.
- Factor in the time for researching texts within your discipline in your service fees.
- Update your subject-specific terminology using various resources.
Excellent Computer Skills
You need sufficient computer skills to make it as a professional translator. Today, this career path demands that you work with a computer-aided translation tool. As such, you have to be in a position where you can use computers effectively apart from being able to learn how to use different translation software fast. Moreover, you need to type quickly to ensure that you offer efficient service.
You can improve your computer skills by:
- Taking courses in computer skills and typing.
- Learning on YouTube or from blogs and forums.
- Hiring an IT expert and learning from them.
To conclude; apart from gathering the above skills, you need to work with an excellent translation service to ensure that your career as a professional translator is rewarding. Translate.com is one of the highly recommended platforms by expert translators. It offers employment to interested experts from all over the planet and currently serves a huge and rapidly-growing client base. While working for the service, you will access tons of jobs each day, enough to earn you a decent amount of money for a sustainable lifestyle. Give this service a try; it is worth it.