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14438_ITI_Career_Bulletin_2017_v2 (5)

How to become a

How to become a translator An overview of required skills, knowledge and qualifications, as well as career paths Translating words and ideas from one language to another is a fascinating, rewarding and creative process. The range of areas in which translation is needed is virtually limitless – especially with the massive explosion in translated content as the world goes digital. So if you love language, languages and words, then working as a professional translator could be your ideal job! But there’s a lot more to being a professional translator than being able to speak another language well. On this page we outline the kind of skills you’ll need and where to get them. To be a professional translator you will need: n a fluent (near-native) understanding of at least one foreign language (source language) n a solid understanding of the culture of the source language country, usually gained by living and working there for a prolonged period of time n excellent writing skills in your own mother tongue n preferably an academic degree in the source language or in another subject which could lead to a specialist subject area (or 6 years’ experience without a degree) n an eye for absolute accuracy and endless curiosity! Do I need a qualification in translation to become a translator? Not necessarily, although an MA in translation or another similar qualification such as the Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) gives you credibility and an edge in this highly competitive market. What training courses are available for translators? In the UK, the main training courses for professional translators are the Masters degree courses offered by various universities and the Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) run by the Institute of Linguists Educational Trust (IoLET). ‘As a professional translator, it’s vital to be able to write and communicate well in your mother tongue (the language you translate into)’ A full list of the universities offering 8 ITI BULLETIN CAREERS SPECIAL www.iti.org.uk

starting out Masters in translation studies can be found on the ITI website (www.iti. org.uk). The DipTrans is a postgraduate-level qualification consisting of three exams in different subject areas. Preparatory courses are run by various providers. Once I have my translation qualification, what job opportunities are there? There are in-house jobs for translators at translation agencies Language Service Businesses, (or LSBs) or major institutions such as the EU, but most professional translators tend to work freelance. There is lots of help and advice available on setting up as a freelance translator, such as the ITI online SUFT course (see page 21) and information on the ITI website. You can find out more about what LSBs look for in freelance translators on page 12 of this Bulletin. How do translators charge for their work? See page 14 for information on how to charge for translation work. Why do I need good mother tongue skills? As a professional translator, it’s vital to be able to write and communicate well in your mother tongue (the language you translate into). The texts you will be translating all have a purpose, whether it’s to sell products, to advertise, to instruct users of machinery, to contribute to research, so they have to be accurate, error free and fluent. A translation needs to sound as if it was written in that language to begin with, and a badly written translation containing stylistic or grammatical mistakes can make or break the client’s business. Fortunately, it’s easy to improve your mother tongue skills. Think the three Rs: read, read, read! n Subscribe to high-quality publications, journals and newspapers in your mother tongue, for example. n Look for writing skills courses, either general or specific to a particular genre, such as technical writing, copywriting, legal drafting, etc. ITI regularly puts on workshops on skills such as these: details can be found on the ITI website, in the Bulletin and in ITI’s monthly email updates. n Become a grammar and punctuation pedant! A professional translator working into English must be absolutely sure how to use commas, semicolons and colons and what does and doesn’t take an apostrophe, for example. n Follow a style guide for guidance and consistency in your work. Many translators apply the style guides of the major newspapers and magazines such as The Economist, or the EC Style Guide. These are just a few examples – honing both source language and mother tongue skills is something professional translators do in many different ways on an ongoing basis throughout their careers. www.iti.org.uk ITI BULLETIN CAREERS SPECIAL 9

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