1. If you are considering becoming a translator or interpreter or considering offering these services professionally, you should seek qualifications from internationally recognised institutions. Language service providers, also known as agencies, often seek qualified linguists with a couple years’ experience to join their team. Those who lack academic certification and some sort of professional experience — in translation and/or interpreting — may be overlooked. It is not sufficient to have studied a foreign language(s) or have a language degree if you are seeking to work as a professional in this field. Translation and interpreting are fields in their own right and serious professionals specialise in particular subject matters.
2. As mentioned above, next comes the specialty fields that interest you the most. You may already have some formal training and experience in particular subject matters — this is a natural fit when it comes to specialising. For example, if you have studied medicine, business, commerce or government, you would be familiar with the terminology required to be a successful interpreter or translator in these fields. Within the world of translating and interpreting, linguists are not expected to be knowledgeable in all subject matters. For this reason, RMC's linguists specialise in particular fields such as finance, law, medicine, education, environment, renewable energy and so on. It is quite natural for the individual to be adept in many fields, but finding and focusing on a niche can be a very useful marketing approach. Determine which fields interest you most and continue seeking formation and gaining experience those areas.
3. Finally, it is possible to find full-time work as a translator or interpreter. If this is your area of interest, you must know that unless you are hired in-house, this is not your usual 8 to 4 job. Some days you may be required to work for 12+ hours and at other times, much less. There may be times where you do not get the chance to relax, going from project to project, working hours on end. Then at others, you may experience quieter periods or dry spells, where fewer-to-no job requests come in. This is not to deter you, but to make you aware of the reality of life as a freelance linguist. With regular marketing, keeping up with professional qualifications and technological developments in the industry, you can set yourself up for a successful career.
Please share with us your experience or observations of life as a freelance linguist. Read more about us here, connect with us on Facebook and email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to look out for our next Tidbits episode where we will provide more guidelines for linguists interested in a career in translation and interpreting.