Do You Love Languages? How To Be A Translator?

The world around us is rapidly transforming, driven by globalisation, digitalisation, changes in work practices and technological advances. In just a short period, many jobs will look different than they do today. For example, the implementation of machine translation has created a whole new translation role developed over the past decade. 

Given these momentous changes, how do you stay on top of your career as a translator, or how can you best prepare for a translation role? Here are some top insights on how to future-proof your career in translation.

Bright prospects

Working in translation can be highly fulfilling. There are many career paths to take in the field and lots of opportunities. From translating for diplomats at the United Nations and localising video games to medical translation and advertising transcreation roles, it’s a highly diverse field. Here are just a few of the areas translators work in:

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook reports that translation jobs will grow much quicker than the average over the next few years, so job security is relatively high. If you’re interested in building a successful career in translation, follow the tips below.


There are two main parameters for specialisation: language and subject area. The benefits of specialisation are that it creates a barrier to entry, which helps boost job security as there will be less competition for jobs. It increases productivity, according to Indeed recruiters. For instance, each field of knowledge, like cardio-vascular healthcare, has its terminology, and becoming knowledgeable about those industry-specific terms is necessary for high-quality results.

Translators usually translate into their mother tongue, the target language. Therefore, if you’d like to work at an international organisation like the UN or EU, check their official languages to see if your mother tongue aligns. 

In terms of a subject area, pick the one you’re passionate about. Areas in high demand are healthcare, law and science and technology. Generally, the more specialised the subject area, the higher the pay. 

One key aspect to remember is the popularity of the language pair you wish to pursue, as working with an increasingly important language translates into better job prospects. The Washington Post reports that “Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Indonesian will dominate much of the business world by 2050, followed by Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Russian.” (To read more on languages of the future, click here.)

Getting certified is one of the best ways to hone translation skills and demonstrate prowess.

Get Certified

As well as the requisite language skills, and expertise in a subject area, a fantastic way to hone translation skills and demonstrate your prowess is to get certified. 

This doesn’t have to be via a university degree in translation, though that would be a great route into a career as a certified translator, as it’s considered the gold standard. As the field is largely unregulated, being certified helps assure employers and clients of the standard of your work.

There are many programs available, such as the American Translators Association certificate course, and in Hong Kong, there’s the Higher Diploma in Translation and Interpretation at the HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education. As well as getting certified as a translator, it’s well worth considering gaining qualifications in the subject area you’ll be working in, such as a paralegal qualification if you aim to work in legal document translation.

Organizations like the UN require their translators to speak their mother tongue or to specialise.

Becoming a member of a professional organisation like The Chartered Institute of Linguistics, which has over 7,000 members, or The Hong Kong Translation Society, founded in 1971 to enhance the translation field, is another way to showcase your expertise and professionalism. These entities also facilitate networking opportunities, which can be highly beneficial when looking for new roles or gaining new clients for freelance work.

Develop tech smarts

There’s no doubt we are in the midst of a tech transformation. From cloud computing and blockchain to quantum computers and the Internet of Things, the whole economy is becoming digitalised to some degree, and translation is no different. As well as mastering a language pair and a subject area, honing translation tech skills, and maintaining them against today’s backdrop of rapid tech developments, is one of the best ways to future-proof any career in translation.  

Today’s translation methods often require specialised computer programs, like the translation memory platform Wordfast and machine translation software SYSTRAN. A Nimdzi report in 2021 identified more than 750 tech solutions, including translation management systems, integrators, interpreting systems, audiovisual translation tools and speech recognition, among others. 

Gain practical experience

It’s the age-old stumbling block for first-time job seekers: how do you get the necessary experience to apply for a job that requires experience? While interning may be an option for some, taking on some freelance work is a good way to start accumulating experience. It’s also a great side hustle if you’re still studying. 

Translation agencies often outsource some of their work, so getting in contact with a few that operate in your area of specialisation is a good start. An advantage of working with an agency as a contract translator is you’ll be working with seasoned professionals, so you’ll pick up skills and knowledge along the way.

Another option is to sign up for online freelance translation platforms. However, at this level, the competition is fierce, and you may be competing against other freelance translators in countries with a much lower cost of living, who can therefore charge industry-low rates. 

Working with an agency ensures practice experience with seasoned professionals.

Careers in translation and interpreting are hugely diverse and offer a lot of scope for career development and a good work/life balance. With these four tips in hand, you’ll be well on your way to getting ahead in this interesting field. 

Into23 is always looking out for talent in the translation field, so if you are looking to start your career in the translation industry, get in contact with us today.

The Rise of Translator Jobs and Useful Trends

The translation jobs outlook for 2022 is mainly a function of the industry’s growth outlook. While machine-aided translation will gain ground shortly, this doesn’t mean human translation jobs are on the way out. The opposite is true.

There will indeed be some level of rejigging of roles as technology advances, but the industry is on track for stellar growth, which translates to well-paid positions and job security. For example, the legal translation services market was valued at US$ 39.37 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand to US$ 46.2 billion by 2028. 

Importance of Diverse Languages

In the US, for example, the translation job growth rate for 2020 to 2030 is estimated to be 24%, which is much higher than the average job growth rate of 8%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Another indicator of the industry’s growth is that the translation workforce doubled from 2013 to 2020.

This growth is fuelled by globalisation, the rise of cross-border travel and business, and increasingly diverse populations in many parts of the world. As a consequence, globalisation and localisation are key translation growth areas.

Great wall of china

Chinese is becoming an increasingly important language for the legal translation services market.

For example,  the US is transitioning from a predominantly English-speaking country to a mixed Spanish- and English-speaking one. This will mean that Spanish is increasingly needed as a translation and interpretation language. Currently, around 13% of the US population speaks Spanish at home.

This example serves to highlight the nuances behind the headline growth rate. When considering a career in translation, or indeed, a job move within the industry generally, it’s always a prudent idea to research which areas will experience higher demand.

After all, higher demand usually translates into better opportunities and working conditions. To find out what areas of the translation are up and coming, read the evidence-based blog below. 

Rise of machine translation

The Google Neural Machine Translation was launched in beta version back in 2017. It was a milestone in good machine translation. Whereas some observers forecast the imminent demise of human translators at the hands of more efficient machine competitors, a hybrid working model has emerged. Despite its breakneck development and advances in AI translation software, machine translation lacks the nuances a human translator brings to the table.

It is great at translating high volumes of more generalised content, but it lacks nuance. The machine translation process usually requires a human editor, and this is an area that is seeing rapid job growth. Machine translation post-editing (MTPE) combines the best of machine translation’s speed and efficiency with humans’ abilities to contextualise meaning. 

Linguistic evolution

While English today remains the de facto lingua franca, its dominant position is threatened by an array of fast-growing languages. Potential job candidates would be well advised to follow demand and train in the world’s most up-and-coming languages. We’ve already mentioned the growing importance of Spanish in the US, but there are many other examples. One such example is Chinese. China’s economy is the world’s second-largest and will overtake the US economy in the not-too-distant future. More and more international companies are targeting the massive Chinese domestic market, and Chinese companies are venturing out abroad, either through investment or extending their footprint.

Rise of Mandarin

One example of this trend is the rising prominence of Mandarin in Africa, where China has been investing in huge infrastructure projects. Not only that, but the massive Chinese diaspora is prominent in business across Asian markets.

Mandarin is not only the most widely spoken language in the world, but according to the World Economic Forum, the economic importance of its speakers is also rapidly increasing. Therefore, Mandarin is highly on the list of the most sought-after languages for translation jobs. Google ‘who speaks Mandarin?’, and you’re guaranteed to be amazed at the results.

Podcasts and videos

Blogging, vlogging and podcasting have become huge in a relatively short period. Driving this expansion is the rise of platforms like Weibo, YouTube and TikTok. Now everyone can share their views online. This has created a huge market for influencers, people who have large online followings and work with brands to promote their products and services. International brands increasingly turn to local influencers to market directly to their target consumers.

Content marketing is forecast to hit astronomical sums in the not-too-distant future. This is fuelling a corresponding spike in demand for transcreation and translation services as brands increasingly want to convey their message in a locally appropriate manner via influencers. Job opportunities in this subsection are likely to grow fast. Knowledge of marketing and branding would benefit translators who wish to tap this area.

voice over translation jobs outlook 2022

As the podcast market grows, translators are needed to localize messages.

Healthcare / medical translation jobs

The ongoing vaccine drive, the largest in human history, demonstrates why there’s a burgeoning demand for healthcare language services worldwide. Not only is this a highly specialised area of translation, but it’s also subject to a great deal of specialist language and strict regulation. A great example of how medical translation can benefit companies is the inclusion of Western medicines in China’s national healthcare system.

Any pharmaceutical company wishing to tap this vast market needs top-notch translators and experts familiar with not only the complex technicalities of this field but the legal framework within which it operates. While there will likely be an increase in machine translation, the technical nature of this field means humans will reign supreme for the foreseeable future. However, that’s not to say machines will not contribute massively.  

medical translation jobs outlook 2022

Healthcare translation is a growing field, and one that is so technical it will require the human touch for a long time to come.

Jobs Market

The translation jobs market is set for above-average growth, and highly skilled translators, experts who are recognised in their technical fields, will be in high demand and will be able to command the salary and working conditions to match. While machine translation is nowhere near replacing humans, the rise of this technology means the nature of translation jobs is changing. If you want to future-proof your career in translation, specialising is highly recommended.

The human ability to contextualise meaning will not be surpassed by technology shortly. Job security and career progression count for a lot when it comes to careers, and a career in translation provides plenty of both if you look in the right places. So, before you embark on a career in this noble profession, make sure you know whether Chinese-to-Japanese translation is more in demand than translation services from Chinese to English, for example, and whether you’d prefer to work in website translation services or to become a freelance translator.  

To explore a career in translation, get in touch with Into23 today.

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