Whether you decide to work as a professional freelancer or a full time translator, a career in translation can be both challenging and rewarding. This career has elements of creativity and verbal expression combined; although the materials that you often translate at times may be more technical (science, law, politics, etc.). Working as a freelance translator allows you the freedom and flexibility creating your own hours as well as allowing you to be your own boss.
You do not necessarily need to be a native speaker your chosen language in order to be an effective translator or interpreter. It may be difficult to match the linguistic skills of any native speakers; however non-natives study languages from scratch while placing great emphasis on grammar thus giving them the advantage of not having to unlearn the mistakes that native speakers have had to. When becoming a translator it is. Below are some steps that will help when beginning to build your career in translation:
1. Having the right Qualifications
We prefer to work with translators who have educational qualifications in their areas of speciality, and preferably up to Masters Level. However, if a translator does not have a qualification in their field of work; it is advisable to at least obtain a language related qualification or relevant experience in the area. There are also professional organisations that translators can become a part of to further boost their profile, an example being the Irish Translators and Interpreters association (ITIA) and its equivalent in other countries; for Irish language translators, Foras na Gaeilge certification is very highly regarded and we place an emphasis on using Irish language translator who hold this qualification.
2. Gain Work Experience
While it is a necessary component to hold the specific qualifications needed for this role, it is also vital that freelancers have prior work experience. The ideal minimum we have set in place is 3 years working experience, which can be challenging for new translators who are beginning their career. If you are starting out as a translator, make sure you highlight any real working experience received through studies, internships, or even volunteer work. We are also always interested to know freelancer’s experience with software and IT related knowledge (translation technology tools, design packages, Microsoft Office, etc.) and any areas of specialisation which may set you apart from the others.
3. What Languages Do You Have?
This can depend on customer demand but the languages that are constantly on customer demand are the main European languages (Irish, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch); Scandinavian languages; Eastern European languages (Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Slovak, Czech, Romanian); Russian; Chinese; Japanese and Arabic. As much as possible, we endeavour to only allow freelancers to work into their native language. It is also important to be clear about your languages and the extent of your knowledge of them – there is no point in lying about your level of knowledge in any language in order to get more work, if you are not comfortable enough with a language this will be evident through the course of your work.
4. Always Be Available and Ready
It is important to state your level of availability to your translation company including days you are unavailable for work or holiday periods, in advance, so that they can assign you work you are free for. It is also essential from our point of view that freelancers are contactable – this means regularly checking emails, answering your phone and replying. Due to the nature of how freelancers work, we need to ensure that we can rely on contacting you.
5. Build A Relationship With your Translation Company
It is important to remain professional at all times, stick to deadline, maintain high standards of quality and maintain strict confidentiality with documentation. It is important that freelancers are professional and flexible while practicing good communication and customer service abilities. At DCU Language Services we work closely with all of our translators in order to build stronger employer – employee relations to ensure the highest standard of work is delivered every time.