The translator professional path: from beginner to professional

In the time of globalization, the borders between states are becoming less and less tangible and people are devoting more and more time to travel. But not everyone is able to learn a foreign language, and therefore, the profession of a translator does not lose its relevance. On the contrary, the market demand for translation specialists is only increasing, despite the fact that machine translation programs have become widespread in recent years.

As a matter of fact, becoming a translator is fairly easy. The main point is to be ready to absorb a large amount of information and act according to the plan. This article can help you figure out how to reach the heights in this profession.

Step one: to decide on a specialization and goals

Everyone refers to the topic of translations for various reasons: someone seeks to fulfill themselves in a new occupation, someone wants to make a nice profit and meet interesting people, someone is tempted by the prospect of frequent travel to different parts of the world. The main thing is to understand which of these goals is yours and build on it.

After you have decided what goal you are following, you need to choose a work specialization.

Oral (interpreting) or written translation?

Obviously that there are two large groups of translators: some work with texts, the others work with people and their oral speech. Intersections are rare - usually a person is determined at the very beginning what they are more familiar with.

Features of interpreting

This occupation requires certain skills and aptitudes, in addition to direct knowledge of a foreign language. These include:

  • Good memory for hearing;
  • Ability to think quickly and distribute attention;
  • Persistence, both mentally and physically;
  • Lack of fear of the public;
  • Ability to communicate with a large number of people.

The oral translation by itself can be simultaneous or consecutive. These are not equivalent levels of work - the first requires a much greater level of skill than the second one.

Consecutive interpretation

This method of work is recommended for beginners and looks like this: after the speaker has spoken a short phrase or sentence, the interpreter utters the same logical block in another language. Then the speaker continues the speech and the process is repeated.

Qualification and place of work play an important role in the amount of payment for a consecutive interpreter: the compensation spread is quite large. Basically, an hourly payment system is used.

Simultaneous interpretation

The performance of simultaneous interpreters, perhaps, was seen by everyone in the news programs. For instance, speeches at international conferences, UN sessions, etc. are translated simultaneously. This means that there is almost no delay between the original speech and its translation (the delay is only 5-7 seconds).

This is a brilliant skill of an interpreter, not everyone's natural abilities give the opportunity to work in such a mode. It is necessary to think in a foreign language, instantly respond to changes in intonation and not to lose contact with the speaker. Additionally, it is necessary to learn how to work with special equipment. However, these are trivia compared with the general requirements for specialists of this level.

Generally, this type of employment is not suitable for everyone. At the same time, not everyone strives for this peak for translators because of the rather high load on the nervous system.

Features of written translations

Becoming a written texts translator is much easier. The only main requirement is to be able to do their job with high quality, i.e. to competently translate texts that an ordinary translator cannot cope with. However, documents confirming your qualifications are also required (this is mentioned below).

Such work is suitable for introverted people: no one will push you from behind except for the deadline, you can work from home and earn decent money. However, the income greatly depends on how well and how much you work.

All written translations can be divided into three categories.

General translators

If you are just starting out in the profession and/or have no other education, this field of activity will help you develop your skills. You can translate news, magazines and books or other texts of mass use.

Certainly, the competition in this area is high, but the pay is not. This is partly due to the dominance of machine translations.

Template document translators

If you have a specialized education and you master the language at a professional level, you can get a job as a translator of personal documents.

These are standard documents that need accurate translation without errors (passports, diplomas, birth certificates, characteristics, etc.). Accordingly, attentiveness and minimum legal competence are needed.

The services of such specialists are often used by government institutions, marriage agencies, educational institutions and large corporations.

Just like general translations, they are not paid very high (but higher than the first ones). The tariff, as a rule, is fixed, but there is much less work to be done here for more money.

Translators of highly specialized texts

If you already have an education of a different subject - you are a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, then you can try your hand at translating specialized texts. There are not many linguists willing to work with them, since an extensive knowledge base on the topic is required, which goes beyond the general semantic core of the language.

This type of work is paid the highest, but also requires high training not only in knowledge of the language but also in other unrelated areas.

The translation of fiction texts does not belong to any of the above types of work, since it is more an art than a craft and it is impossible to give any specific recommendations here. An employer is more likely to estimate your talent as a writer than your general language skills.

Step two: education

Once you have decided on the goals and ways of your development as a translation specialist, you should think about your education. There is a large number of learning opportunities available these days, just a few are listed below.

Relevant education

This way of learning is highly recommended for those who have a low level of language proficiency. A lot of local universities train good specialists in the field of translation (their titles and codes may differ but generally the difference is insignificant). There are both faculties and departments, as well as entire universities of foreign languages.

Additionally with a diploma, you can get a "basement" that will greatly help both in finding employment and in developing a business.

Translation courses

For those who do not want to devote a few years to the university, there are courses for training and retraining of translators. However, keep in mind that you need to get basic knowledge on your own and in advance - this is not given much attention here.

This method is nicely suitable for beginner translators who are not yet confident in their professionalism. Or just for people who know a foreign language well and want to make money with it. Be certain to choose a worthy institution, the diploma of which can be provided to the employer.

In addition, if you have already studied at a university, you can take an additional educational program - Translator in the professional communication field.


There is not a large number of self-taught people among translators, but they do exist. You can learn to speak and write correctly in a foreign language with the help of books or educational programs. The main disadvantage is that you do not have documentational evidence of your competence and you have to look for a well-paid job longer than after graduation.

Just knowing the language is not enough. You need to know the history, culture features, methods and means of translation. This is what distinguishes higher-level translators from those who only speak the language at the level of a native speaker. Besides, it is necessary to regularly improve not only vocabulary, but also other professional qualities.

Step three: job search

After you have mastered the basics of the profession, it is time to look for an employer - indeed, a good income mainly depends on your record of service.

So, in the final part of the article, we will figure out where to find a job as a translator in the modern world.

Salaried translator

If the office work doesn't intimidate you, a full-time translator is a position that might suit you. Usually translators and editors are demanded.


  • regular working day;
  • communication in a team;
  • social benefits;
  • stable salary.


  • routine;
  • lack of career growth prospects.

Freelance translator

If a translator can count on employment in an office, an interpreter has almost no such chances. Almost all of them are registered as individual entrepreneurs or self-employed: different people and institutions use their services, rarely signing long-term contracts.


  • flexible working day;
  • possibility to work remotely (from home);
  • you define the cost of services.


  • unstable amount of work;
  • software and hardware expenses;
  • taxes have to be calculated and paid by oneself.

Own business

If you feel like you posses the vein of a leader and an entrepreneur, you can open your own translation agency. However, this is a completely separate issue, which is weakly related directly to the translator's work.

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