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Translator: job description

Translator: job description

Translation requires the individual to accurately convey the meaning of the written words from one language to another.
Working as a freelance translator is common.

What does a translator do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Translators predominantly work with business, technical, legal and scientific written materials including letters, reports, articles, books etc. Their work incorporates:

  • reading documents
  • writing and editing copies
  • preparing summaries
  • consulting clients
  • developing contacts and using translation computer programmes

Typical employers of translators

  • Translation companies
  • Commercial and industrial organisations
  • The European Union
  • The Civil Service
  • International bodies such as the United Nations

Many translators are self-employed or freelance, paid per word according to language so earnings can depend on translation speeds.

Specialist translation companies and agencies often prefer experienced staff. Advertisements appear in newspapers and publications such as The Official Journal of the European Community and The Linguist as well as their online equivalents. Directories and members lists published by the Institute of Linguists and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting can provide useful contact information for networking and speculative applications.

Qualifications and training required

A language degree is normally the minimum academic requirement for entry. For graduates without a relevant background, or for language graduates whose studies did not include translation, a postgraduate translation qualification is necessary.

There is also a recognised Diploma in Translation offered by the Institute of Linguists. Areas of expertise, such as scientific, technical or legal knowledge can be beneficial. Practical translation work, an EU stage or any other commercial or administrative experience is useful.

Key skills for translators

  • Ability to work to deadlines
  • Good general knowledge
  • Excellent spoken and written English
  • Fluency in at least two foreign languages
  • IT skills
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