Love for Languages? Top Steps to Becoming a Translator


Do you have a love for languages? Are you aiming for a role in  translation or localization? Whether you want to work for a professional translation agency in-house or merely live the life of a freelancer, there are several different paths to take in the world of languages. Either way, you require a set of skills and experience to become a qualified linguist. So, how do you go about this? In our latest blog post, we present to you the 5 basic steps on how to become a translator…

1. Develop those Skills!

Only fluent and native translators will be hired by localization agencies. Other than having a sufficient command of two languages, you should also have a variety of writing skills under your belt. The best translators master the vocabulary, grammar, terminology, idioms and punctuation of a language whilst being able to write skillfully and creatively at the same time.

Localizing involves understanding the customs of your target market. It’s therefore considered an advantage if you have lived in or spent a lot of time in the country where the language is spoken as it helps you become familiar with the country’s culture and norms.

Other than language skills, translators-to-be should also become accustomed to using various technical tools. Besides the obvious like Microsoft Office and efficient typing skills, you should also try out CAT tools and Translation Memory. These translation tools are almost always used by all LSPs to help provide more productivity and efficiency for linguists. Experience using such software will impress any translation company, no doubt.

2. Get Educated!

So, what do you need to become a translator in terms of education? Any qualification or certificate relating to translation or languages will always catch the eye of an LSP. There are many linguists who have engaged in translation studies, foreign languages or literature. Even if you have a Bachelor’s degree or masters in a specific field (e.g. marketing, law, financial), it’s also considered highly advantageous, especially if you want to translate for particular industries.

There are a variety of certificates that you can apply for as an aspiring translator. You can qualify to become a ‘certified translator’ or you can take a language proficiency test which will demonstrate your competency in that language you intend to translate in.

3. Expand that CV and Gain Experience!

Once you’ve built up the right amount skills and qualifications to land yourself a translation role, it’s time to expand your resume. After advertising yourself and marketing your expertise, work from potential clients can pop up at any time so be sure to have your CV ready.

Showcase your specialty in a specific business sector, which languages you excel in as well as your writing skills. Add that you can produce timely results – this is a major plus for any translation agency as they are fast-paced and constantly on the go. You also want to provide competitive prices so that you stand out among other candidates.

It’s always great to present some sample work when applying for a translation role. But of course, sample work results from work experience. Apply for internships or work an entry-level job to really spice up your resume. Any experience, even minor translation jobs will give you a gist and hands-on experience of how the industry functions – this is always appreciated by agencies on the hunt for translators.

4. Sell Yourself!

Landing a role in translation requires plenty of marketing…of yourself. This is essential in the competitive localization world, especially if you aim to become a freelance translator. There are hundreds of linguists out there who will be fighting for the same role so work hard to get your foot through the door. Do it by joining translator directories like Proz and other similar networks and communities or even start up a blog to really show them what you’ve got. Talk to other translators and find out their prices. This way you can attract attention with your competitive rates.

5. Learn More!

It’s never too late to learn more and build knowledge on a subject. Get to grips on news, trends and developments in the translation industry and read more content that is written in your second language so you can grow your proficiency. This will help you stay up to date on terminology and language changes. Knowledge is indeed power and this could lead you towards bigger and better things. Who knows, you might want to test the waters of the interpreting industry next – now that’s a quality many translation companies will appeal to.

Want more language tips? Check out our blog post for the Ultimate Checklist for Translators
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The Ultimate Checklist for Translators


There are several widely-held myths about translation . Many mistakenly assume it’s an easy process that simply involves scanning a text and producing it in another language. In fact, translation requires skill, expertise, time, effort and research. In order to produce a professional translation, a linguist should follow quality and technological standards. Like most jobs, it requires going through a checklist to ensure quality and accuracy.

Want to become a translator? Are you currently working for a translation agency? Here’s a translation checklist to help you deliver a high-quality translation service:

1. Revise your Project

When you receive a translation assignment from your project manager, make sure to properly revise the instructions that came with the job. You don’t want to get involved in something you don’t understand. Double-check the client’s briefing to confirm everything is clear and then verify that all appropriate files and documents are attached.

2. Consider the Context

When it comes to translation, context is king. Professional translators are usually experts in particular fields so make sure that the project you receive is right up your street. Always confirm that you are comfortable and familiar with the subject matter of the document. You should be able to not only accurately translate the words, but the context, too. Each industry has its own lingo and jargon – do you understand the terminology? Are you experienced in that specific field? Ignored context always results in a translation gone wrong so let your project manager know if you’re uncomfortable with the job.

3. Do Your Research

You may be an expert in a particular industry but sometimes, you need that extra bit of guidance. Once you know the subject matter of the source text, do some research about it. Are you reviewing a restaurant? Scan the internet for its competitors and have a look at their use of terminology and language style. Will you be writing about a new technology? Identify relevant reference sources online as well as related websites. These are a good starting point in providing excellent translations.

4. Provide Personality

A document that has been translated word for word is never appreciated. Try to give the content some personality and perhaps even a little twist when translating it from one language to another. A skilled translator will translate a text as though it is the final product. Of course, you need the source text as a basis but at one point, you should distance yourself from it in order to give the final piece some character and individuality. Unless requested by the client, translating a document word for word will appear lazy and careless. Give yourself a good reputation by adding some flow and creativity to your text.

5. Be Consistent

Received another project? Have you worked for this client before? It is essential that you are consistent in your translations. Most clients expect consistency in the work produced. They want to protect their brand and avoid confusing the reader. It’s therefore recommended that you stick to the same writing style and use similar terminology and phrases. Use the same tone throughout the text and never ignore the translation memory. This tool helps determine similarities between the new content and any previously translated words and phrases, saving you time and ensuring brand consistency for the client.

6. Give Feedback

Want to be perceived as an efficient and serious translator? Provide feedback! If you find any errors or problems with the source text or if you notice that there are inaccuracies in the translation memory, inform your project manager. If word count or due dates is a concern, let them know. Honesty really is the best policy. You don’t want to rush a job and give yourself a bad reputation. It’s also a great idea to leave notes or comments when delivering the document regarding wording, format or other important linguistic components. Feedback is always appreciated by the project manager and the client as it helps them improve and build quality in the long-run.

7. Proofread

Finished your translation? Brilliant! Now it’s time to proofread your own work. Start by spellchecking and correcting any typos. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often this gets forgotten by writers and translators. Once you’ve checked that it’s free of spelling and grammatical errors, read over your document and compare it to the source text to make sure you haven’t forgotten or mistranslated anything. Do not ignore your CAT tool when it detects missing text, untranslated segments, empty space or missing words and numbers. You should also ensure that you haven’t got any repeated phrases. The translation memory tool comes in handy but you need to check that you do not use the same vocabulary or phrase more than once. The final document has to make sense in the target language and read as though it was originally written in that language. Summing up, it should act as a stand-alone document.
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Need Your Website Translated? DO NOT Ask a Friend!


Think twice before you ask a friend or family member to translate something for you. They may know how to speak more than one language, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a professional translator. I learned this lesson the hard way…

The Big Mistake – Asking My Friend for Help

When I needed my financial website translated into German, I approached my friend to lend a hand. She spoke the language pretty well, so I saw no harm in asking for her help – especially when she offered to do it for free. Big mistake! Little did I know that she’d produce something that could have been seriously detrimental to my brand. It was only when I had someone check her work that I noticed where she’d gone so terribly wrong.

You see, my friend had translated the content on my website word for word. Here’s an example:

“Our latest announcement: make your first deposit and grab a massive 200% match bonus!”

My friend translated this sentence into German which, when retranslated back into English read:

“Our latest advertisement: make your first deposit and dig a solid 200% match bonus!”

I took the precaution of running the text past a professional translation, and when he explained what had happened, I didn’t know whether to be amused or frustrated.

My friend had translated “announcement” into the word “annonce,” a very old-fashioned term meaning a newspaper announcement, or “advertisement.”
Then, she’d mistranslated the word “grab” into “graben,” which means “dig.”

And finally, she’d taken the word “massive” and written “massiv,” which means “solid” in German.

My friend had completely failed to communicate the intended meaning, because she’d ignored the context of the copy. She’d also made the classic mistake of falling for “false friends” – words that look like exact equivalents, but which have very different meanings.

If you’ve ever used Google Translate to interpret a text, you may recall seeing strange words, awkward grammar and many “that doesn’t make sense” moments. This copy wasn’t much better!

If I hadn’t double-checked the texts, it would have resulted in very negative outcomes for my brand.

What I Did Instead – Use a Professional Translation Agency

When my friend’s mistakes were pointed out to me, I realized that if I wanted quality work, I needed to cough up the cash and use a professional translation service.

Why? For starters, they guarantee to use correct the terminology, phrases and grammar when translating your text. These professionals have writing skills, creativity, and they guarantee to maintain the voice and style of your original text. They are genuinely bilingual – in some cases trilingual – and in most cases, they are also experts in the industry you work in. They’ll grasp the essence and meaning of your material and clarify any gray areas directly with you to avoid mistakes.

The Lesson Learned – Bear the Cost, Enjoy the Quality…

…oh and NEVER ask your friend for Help!

Just because someone speaks another language, it doesn’t mean they are qualified to be a translator. Oral skills are very different from the ability to write fluently and stylishly. If you need a professional translation service, always reach out to an expert. It’s an art and it comes at a price, but at least you’ll be assured of quality results.

Seek Expert Knowledge!

Contact a team of experienced and knowledgeable language experts like Pangea Localization Services. They’ll always use the right person to translate your text, someone who understands the specialized terminology of your sector and the context of your copy. If you operate a Forex, iGaming or Video Gaming business, or if you’re involved in any related field, you’ll find that localizing your precious copy needn’t be a guessing game and that ‘phoning a friend’ is an option you’ll never want to rely on again.
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