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What does a Translator or an Interpreter do?
Interpreters work with spoken language, as well as sign language, while translators' purvue is the written word. To convert information from one language (the source) to another (the target), these professionals must use their knowledge of the languages, cultures and subject matter.
Translators usually need an excellent command of two or more languages. The languages most in demand are the official languages of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN).
Translators work on:
scientific;technical;commercial;literary;legal; andeducational documents.
Most translators work freelance from home, either for translation agencies or directly for clients, although some organisations employ in-house translators.
In addition to specialized training in interpreting and translating, those who want to enter this occupation must be fluent in at least two languages—the ones they want to interpret or translate to or from. Most employers prefer job candidates who have a bachelor's degree, but one does not have to major in a language. Something to keep in mind is that one can choose a major based on the subject area in which he or she would like to specialize, for example law, technology or engineering to name just a few.
Interpreters and translators, in addition to language fluency, must have knowledge about the cultures related to the speakers of those languages. A good way to acquire this knowledge is through travel to the countries in which those languages are spoken. Reading extensively, on a variety of subjects, in both languages is also helpful.
As a translator or interpreter gains experience, he or she may take on more difficult or prestigious assignments, or even start his or her own business. One might opt to become certified in order to demonstrate proficiency in this field.
In 2011 median annual earnings were $44,160 and the median hourly salary was $21.23.
Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a Translator or Interpreter currently earns in your city.
Typical work activities
The translation process usually involves a combination of the following:
reading through original material and rewriting it in the target language, ensuring that the meaning of the source text is retained;using specialist dictionaries, thesauruses and reference books to find the closest equivalents for terminology and words used;using appropriate software for presentation and delivery;researching legal, technical and scientific phraseology to find the correct translation;liaising with clients to discuss any unclear points;proofreading and editing final translated versions;providing clients with a grammatically correct, well-expressed final version of the translated text, usually as a word-processed document;using the internet and email as research tools throughout the translation process;prioritising work to meet deadlines;providing quotations for translation services offered;consulting with experts in specialist areas;supplying subtitles for foreign films and television programmes;retaining and developing specialist knowledge on specialist areas of translation;networking and making contacts.
Should you become a Translator or Interpreter?