1. Description

Translators often describe their work as a labor of love and it’s true that translating a great novel into another language can be almost as satisfying as though you had written it yourself. However, translators also do the necessary work of translating technical manuals, business memos, news stories, and government documents, without which the global economy would probably grind to a halt. Whether you translate poetry or scientific reports, translating requires creative thinking, research, and determination.  

Translators read written materials, which can range from poetry to technical manuals, in one language and write them in another.

Did You Know?

PFIGS stands for the languages traditionally in the most demand: Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. However, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean are also good languages to know and the list is always changing in response to world events.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Research rarely used words in dictionaries written for native speakers
  • Do background research on writers to understand their use of language
  • Translate a complicated instruction manual into clear instructions in another language
  • Possibly work as a contractor, one project at a time, and not as a full-time employee

It Helps To Be...

Able to work alone for long periods of time. While working as a freelance translator can be lonely, it also means you’ll set your own schedule.

Make High School Count

  • Sign up for advanced foreign language classes.
  • Pay attention in all of your classes. You’ll need a large vocabulary for the wide variety of topics you’ll encounter while translating.
  • Try translating short texts, such as a poem you are studying in English class, from one language to another.
  • Spend a summer or even a year in another country and learn how to speak the language.
  • Read a variety of books in your second language to increase your fluency.

The thing I like about my job is the work with language and words -- the satisfaction of knowing that you have gotten a word or a sentence or a chapter just right.” -- Ofer, Translator, English to Hebrew