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If you write or blog in two or more languages, you know how useful this skill can be, especially in a bilingual workplace. Perhaps you’re already doing some type of translating as part of your employment or in your personal life. This article will focus on the benefits of adding translation to your writing portfolio and working with translation services to increase your earnings.
Whether you perform freelance translating or work through a translation company, this is an industry that is booming. As organizations embrace globalization, the need for professional translators is expected to increase by 18% by 2026 – more than the average growth for many other occupations.
What Kind of Experience Do I Need to Be a Translator?
There are no hard and fast rules for becoming a translator, but a professional translation agency will usually expect at least some combination of experience and continuing education. If you’re already a freelance writer who is proficient in writing bilingually, it’s a good idea to do a few translation projects to get a feel for the industry. You could volunteer your services to a non-profit or assist a more experienced translator with some work to gain practical know-how and add to your portfolio.
Another way to gain experience is to offer your services on freelance sites like Freelancer or Fiverr. These places are beginner-friendly, and if you can create a professional portfolio outlining your expertise, you could easily land a few jobs to gauge whether translation is something you want to do more of.
What Type of Education Do I Need to Be a Translator?
While some professional translation services look for applicants who hold a college degree, it’s not always a requirement. Most companies simply want someone who can do the job well. No amount of education takes the place of a highly motivated translator with a passion for language. While a formal language education looks great on a resume, the real proof is in the end result: accurate, high-quality work.
Translators who wish to hone their skills through further education have many options to choose from:
• Continuing education courses offered online or in the community
• Certifications like the American Translators Association Certificate
• Formal undergraduate and graduate degrees in translation or foreign languages
Demand for Translators with Specialized Skills
Just as in the writing field, one of the things that can boost your earnings is finding a specialty. Your niche is a subject that you have a strong interest in/experience with. For example, writers who have a favorite hobby or sport will often specialize in writing about that subject. The same specialist skills and knowledge are needed to translate articles and blog posts on that topic.
For virtually any subject you can imagine, a translation need exists. If you’re not sure how to determine your specialty, ask yourself:
• What do I enjoy writing about/translating the most?
• What areas of expertise do I have?
• What are my hobbies?
• If I had the opportunity to write about/translate just one subject, what would it be?
The Most Lucrative Translation Specialties
There are two industries where demand for skilled translation is particularly strong: legal translation and medical translation. Positioning yourself as an expert translator in either of these specialties optimizes your chances of having a steady stream of decent-paying work.
The demand for legal translation specialists is escalating thanks to globalization. Laws vary from country to country, and the process of translating legal documents from one language to another requires impeccable accuracy and attention to detail. This can be an extremely lucrative specialization for translators with an interest in, and understanding of, the law in other countries.
Medical translators are also in high demand. Again, this demand is due in large part to the increasingly global economy. As more pharmaceuticals and medical equipment become available to other countries, the need for translated materials like labels and product literature rises. Similar to legal translation, the medical field has regulations that vary from country to country, and the translator should be familiar with them.
Medical translation also requires accuracy and precision, for you are dealing with people’s health and wellbeing. A wrong word or phrase might only be a harmless typo or it could be something quite serious like the wrong dosing information.
Writers who aren’t interested in the legal or medical fields can find plenty of work translating for other in-demand industries, including business, education, software, tourism, and more. For those who are skilled at providing transcription services, video translation is a growing field.
As a bilingual writer, you are well placed to add translation to your portfolio. Offering to provide the best translation services as well as blogging or other writing services can help you to grow your earnings significantly.
Ofer Tirosh has headed up the Tomedes translation agency since founding it in 2007. As CEO of Tomedes, he oversees the company’s operations around the globe, including the delivery of websites in sixteen languages.