While it’s true that being raised in a diverse mix of languages and cultures can encourage multilingualism and kickstart a future linguist’s career, becoming an outstanding translator or interpreter doesn’t just happen with luck.
In fact, many multilingual children never even consider the idea of pursuing a career in languages. The simple truth is that anybody can become a translator or interpreter if they love languages.
But how do linguists perfect their craft? More importantly, what steps can you take to get into the world of translating and interpreting if you’re just starting out? Here’s some advice!
First Things First: Decide What You Want to Do
Many people use the term ‘translator’ and ‘interpreter’ interchangeably, but they’re not the same, even though they are related.
Translators typically work with dictionaries and other language books to create duplicates of content from a source language into a target language. These linguists work with written language. They might have to modify the context a little so that it’s culturally acceptable but still carries the same core message. Translators don’t work with people and generally work remotely since there is no need to interact with clients face-to-face.
Interpreters, on the other hand, work with spoken language. These linguists are in the thick of the conversation, ensuring that speakers of different languages understand each other in real-time. Interpreters often specialize in a specific area of business and are experts in their native language and the target language they translate to.
How to Become an Interpreter or Translator
Devote Yourself to Language Learning
Achieving professional-level fluency as an interpreter isn’t as easy as it might seem, and it’ll take a lot of time and dedication to master a new language. Even after you think you’ve mastered your native language and another one you want to specialize in, you need to understand that this will be an ongoing learning process to ensure you’re always in sync with trends and nuances. How current you keep your vocabulary and cultural references will directly impact your career as an interpreter.
Decide What Kind of Interpreting or Translating You’ll Do
There are many areas of interpreting and translation you can specialize in. Healthcare, legal, business, immigration, diplomatic, and travel are just some areas you can specialize in. You also have to decide if you’ll focus on simultaneous or consecutive interpreting if you’re set on becoming an interpreter.
Simultaneous interpreting requires interpreters to interpret a speaker’s words almost immediately after they’re spoken. Consecutive interpreting requires the interpreter to listen to the speaker for a few seconds before interpreting his message.
Consider Getting Certified
Although it isn’t always mandatory to get certified, these professional accreditations can benefit your career. In general, certifications are specific to your area of specialization and will test your general language abilities and specialized knowledge of the field.
For example, the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) certifies prospective interpreters that want to work in the medical field. Official certifications can boost your job prospects and help you earn more than non-certified interpreters.
Not only will you gain credibility if you get certified, but you’ll also be listed in the organization’s directory, which is where potential clients can find and hire you for translation or interpreting projects. Although certification might not be mandatory, it is the best place to start if you want to become a successful language specialist.
Tailor Your Education
It’s evident that if you want to become a doctor, you’ll need to obtain a medical degree first. Lawyers need to get through law school before they can start fighting for justice. But the educational requirements for interpreters and translators aren’t always as straightforward as most other professions.
In many cases, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to become a successful interpreter or translator. Some fields will require you to be certified or hold some form of higher education. Obtaining some sort of accreditation or certification is the first step in the right direction if you want to become a professional translator.
Many institutions are dedicated to training interpreters and translators. Middlebury College, for example, offers a Master of Arts degree in Translation and Interpretation. There’s also the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center that provides educational programs to individuals working for the Department of Defense or related federal agencies. And despite its name, the American Translators Association also represents interpreters and offers a range of programs throughout various language schools across the globe.
After getting certified and gaining some experience, you need to promote your services to law firms, government agencies, hospitals, and language agencies that may need language professionals.
You can also start a website or blog to help market yourself and join the community of online language professionals. Familiarize yourself with the going rate for translators and ensure you have your resume and rates ready in case a prospective client requests it.
Translations and Interpreting from Day Translations
For professional interpreting services and expert translations, contact Day Translations today. Our team of experienced interpreters and translators are standing by to help you cross the language barrier.