Translation careers offer huge benefits
Working in the translation field can be a highly fulfilling path, especially for those who possess excellent linguistic capabilities. If you’re considering a career as a translator or interpreter, you have many options to consider when choosing the role you’d like to pursue.
Depending on your work environment preferences and whether you’d like to translate written documents or verbal conversations, there are plenty of different opportunities available in translation. In this article, we outline what translators do and identify eight exciting career paths for professionals looking to join the field.
What do translators do?
Translators and interpreters convert information from one language to another. Translators typically specialize in converting written documents and text, while interpreters usually work with verbal language in real-time settings.
They act as communication mediators by translating spoken language or text so that people who speak different languages can all understand the same messages. Translators and interpreters are responsible for decoding language in movies, books, journals, legal documents, schools, healthcare settings, work conferences and more.
Translators and interpreters alike possess excellent communication, analysis and linguistic skills. They regularly have to compile information, like technical terminology, and create glossaries and databases to use in their daily translation practices.
Also, they are responsible for accurately rendering the style, tone, meaning and intention of an original language when translating, which can be challenging to accomplish. Each of these duties requires a high level of cultural knowledge, awareness and attention to detail. There are a few different types of translation and interpretation modes, including:
Simultaneous interpretation: Simultaneous interpreters convert a spoken or signed message into another language at the same time the original speaker is conveying their message.
Consecutive interpretation: Consecutive interpreters take notes during a conversation and convert a given speaker or signer’s message into another language immediately after they have stopped speaking.
Sight translation and interpretation: Sight translators and interpreters convert language from a written document into a verbal translation in another language for instantaneous comprehension.
Translators and interpreters may travel regularly to perform their linguistic conversion duties in other countries or locales. To work in the translation field, you must be fluent in at least two languages, though some translation professionals are fluent in more than two. Many translation professionals hold four-year degrees and certifications from programs that teach candidates the requisite skills to succeed in their careers.
Types of translator careers
Translators and interpreters work in a variety of settings and convert different messages depending on their role. Here are eight distinct translation careers to consider when starting your journey:
Health or medical interpreters and translators
Health and medical interpreters and translators work in healthcare settings. They help patients communicate effectively with healthcare providers like doctors, nurses, medical technicians and other staff.
Due to their specialized work setting, translation professionals who work in the healthcare field must have an advanced understanding of medical terminology and common medical treatments in both of the languages they speak. They may help both patients and medical staff by translating research texts, pharmaceutical information, brochures about medical conditions, patient consent documents and any records as needed.
Health and medical translation professionals must possess a heightened sensitivity to the needs of their clients, as they handle accurately translating information that can affect a clients’ quality of care. Even further, similar to most healthcare employees, health translators and interpreters must maintain confidentiality and hold certain ethical standards in their work.
Literary translators convert literature from one language to another. They study books, journal articles, poetry and short stories by analyzing the text’s intended meaning and linguistic complexities. It is important for literary translators to accurately capture an author’s original tone, style and sentiment in their translations. Since most literature is highly culturally specific, literary translators must pay special attention to a text’s thematic details and historical context.
Legal or judicial translators and interpreters
Legal and judicial translators and interpreters work in legal settings, such as courts, law offices and more. They attend legal proceedings like depositions, hearings, arraignments and trials to convert documents and conversations from one language to another.
Like medical translation professionals, legal translators must have specific advanced knowledge of legal terminology and client rights. Legal translation professionals often perform crucial justice-oriented work and serve as advocates for people who possess limited English language proficiency.
Community interpreters serve within communities to support language conversion in a variety of settings. They can work in schools, government agencies and local organizations to interpret real-time verbal conversations. Community interpreters provide vital support in settings like parent-teacher conferences, community events, public meetings, real estate purchases and other community environments. They often also work toward providing language justice initiatives for community members who speak a language other than the local norm.
Conference interpreters translate lectures and conference presentations, often for non-English-speaking attendees. They are popularly employed in the fields of international affairs, business and diplomacy, though conference interpreters may specialize their work for any organization with foreign language interpretation needs. Conference interpreters are commonly fluent in over two languages so that they can interpret messages across three or four languages. Also, many conference interpreters typically perform simultaneous interpretation duties.
Localizers translate texts and graphics used in products, services, websites, instruction manuals, advertisements and promotions from one language to another. In a practice called “localization,” they try to make such text and graphics appear as if they originated in an alternate country.
For example, if a product’s origin is France and its original text and graphics appear in French, a localizer may be employed to translate the product’s text and graphics into Spanish so it can be sold in Spain as well. Localizers are responsible for understanding the technical information and terminology of the specific industry they work in. In addition to this, localizers typically utilize computer and web-based software to perform their duties.
Since some people with hearing disabilities can lip-read English, sign language interpreters might translate from one language to English and carefully mouth speech silently. During this process, they must make sure to use appropriate facial expressions and gestures to help the lip-reader understand what is being communicated. Even further, some sign language interpreters specialize in tactile signing, which is designed specifically to help people with both hearing and vision disabilities communicate.
Trilingual interpreters translate verbal communication between three different language speakers. They often serve to help English speakers, non-English speakers and ASL users communicate effectively in a group. Trilingual interpreters typically need to possess an adequate cultural understanding of all the languages they interpret daily. They must perform their jobs with adaptability and ductility so that they can interpret the essential meaning of conversations without altering the original speaker’s message. Trilingual interpreters work in a variety of contexts, including schools and community settings.
Benefits of translation careers
A career in translation can be very gratifying and come with many benefits, including:
Diverse work environment: Translators and interpreters work in a diverse array of work environments because their services are used throughout different sectors and in many communities with bilingual citizens.
Ability to travel: As a translator or interpreter, you might be able to travel frequently and see various corners of the globe. This comes with the added benefit of meeting new people and practicing your linguistic skills in different locales.
Continuous educational opportunities: Translators and interpreters need to stay up to date on specific lingual developments and the targeted terminology used in their respective specializations. This provides translation professionals with continuous learning opportunities throughout their careers.
Helping others: The work of translators and interpreters directly helps others with their communication needs. This can be highly fulfilling, especially in cases when an individual might not have otherwise been able to communicate effectively because of language barriers.
(The author is a Retired Principal based in Malout Punjab)