Becoming a document translation specialist

Have a head for languages and an eye for detail? Experience in a particular public sector? Then document translation could be a possible career path for you. There are two paths open to you – to be employed as a document translation specialist by a company, practising the standards required by industry or work freelance for an agency. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

The easiest way to get started is the freelance route, translating documents when required by agency hire. Once you have built your portfolio, you can then move onto applying for a position in a larger firm, whilst still maintain your freelance document translation clients if so desired. Considerations if you do go down the freelance route include: being pro-active, exceeding expectations, meeting deadlines, being keen, plus managing your own accounts and taxes. If you are not motivated enough you could be left with very little document translation work.

The first requirement for a successful document translation writer is a good standard of education, particularly in languages. Most companies would expect to see a degree on your resume. To be awarded a degree, you have to have a good control of linguistic devices and writing skills in your native language and a proficient knowledge or understanding of the language you will be translating. A combined language degree would certainly be an advantage in becoming a document translation professional.

Paramount to your success in this field is a document translation qualification, which has been awarded by a recognised body. For example, in the UK document translation professionals should contact the ITL or IOL on the current routes of accreditation.

Being proficient in the foreign language with which you will be working is predominantly fundamental to your success in being hired in this field. You need to be able to show more than just a working knowledge of the nuances of the language, demonstrating you can interpret the modern variations of the language, dialectal variations slang and current cultural influences.

Your unique selling point as a document translation specialist is to have experience in a specific industry or profession. For example, you may be experienced in the business sector, engineering world, science or medical profession.

Proficiency in Information Technology and computer applications are centric to your success in this line of work. Good keyboard and editorial skills are essential. You would be advised to invest in good quality and revised dictionaries, latest versions of word processing software, a speedy internet connection, some translation software to assist and if necessary access to a telephone/facsimile line.

Knowing your work rate and how much you will charge per day is also essential, when dealing with agencies or being hired for a permanent contract. Establishing a good reputation in the translation field is your first step on the road to success as a document translation specialist. Want to know more? Visit any large document translation concern and note the specific recruitment guidelines for any further attributes you may be required to have as a professional translator.

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