How to become a translator

How much does a translator earn? And other key questions which need to be answered before making a decision to become a translator. ATT INTERWERS Technical Translations Agency provides a direct answer to the frequently asked questions about the pros and cons of being a translator.
Each staff member of ATTINTERWERS.COM Technical Translations Agency and each translator cooperating with us at some point in their life considered working as a translator, its pros and cons and compared them with their personal traits, the knowledge and skills possessed… or at least that’s what should have been done before deciding to become a translator.

Before we answer the question of how to become a translator, we will describe a few prerequisites which constitute the context of the question of our interest. Otherwise we would get lost in assumptions that would be individually interpreted by each person. This valuable note is the first step to understanding any message, not only in the translation industry but also in any exchange of thoughts between people. We may recall situations that we experienced where we understood something completely different than the other person who experienced the same in the past or looked at the situation as a third party. The word ‘love’ for example has many different meanings not only in terms of linguistics but also with regard to one’s own past experiences. Is it really possible to define it in the exact same way as the person sitting beside us? Certainly not. Thanks to this knowledge we may avoid many disappointments… Let us get back to considerations strictly concerning the translation industry.

What is personality and why is it worth to think about it when choosing to become a translator? The rather outdated definition of a personality is useful in everyday life and describes the ways of reacting to particular stimuli or situation. For a translator, such typical situations include spending long hours alone in front of a computer monitor, not having a superior or a defined working rhythm and freedom in general. Is this what you are looking for? If you answered yes, then freelance translator is a perfect job for you. You need to remember however, that there is no freedom without responsibility. Translators determine their working hours, the amount of work as well as its pace by themselves. Self-organisation and self-discipline are a must in this profession. Are you sure you have the ability to manage your own time and know how to act in a situation of working alone for months? The questions concerning your well-being and health are worth answering. After all, you have only one life to live.

You have to remember that the feedback you receive from everyone around you is valuable while its lack resulting from spending time alone deprives you of this natural factor of life.
A good translator is someone who knows themselves and thanks to that is able to organise their emotions so that it is possible to fully enjoy life while the work brings various benefits and multi-level fulfilment. Otherwise, the translator’s work will not be effective and may end quickly since the industry of translations is very demanding.

If you have made your decision about becoming a translator and you accept that 1/3 of your life will be spent in front of a monitor, if your personal features are appropriate for this job you have to ask yourself another question about your possibilities and the way of facilitating them in the market.  You are lucky because the market in which you want to start operating belongs to the 20% of the wealthiest markets in the world! While enjoying the friendly environment for the profession of a translator and considering the fact that the Polish market of translations generates large quantities of texts, think about the mode of your participation in the market or the actual market (niche) you wish to participate in. The selection is among: the market of literature translations, the market of written technical translations, the market of interpreting which is divided into consecutive, simultaneous and whispering.
In order to make a decision about entering the market, you need a clear description of the product which you are going to offer. Your product must be characterised by high-quality and must be useful to your customer, i.e. for us. ATT INTERWERS Technical Translations Agency is eager to purchase a product which can be sold to its customers after processing (i.e. verifying, proofreading, correcting mistakes, joining with other documents, suiting to the customer requirements etc.). Your product should be a permanently available translation service which you are willing to provide. Do not think only about the text. ATTINTERWERS.COM willingly cooperates with translators who are responsible, maintain their deadlines, communicative and efficient in terms of organisation. All these business goals shall be connected with the knowledge and skills – it would be best to explain right away what we mean: our definition of “knowledge” is the amount of information you have, i.e. what you acquired during your education and what can be logically brought into a functioning entirety. By skills we understand the practical knowledge which in case of a translator is language competence. Therefore knowing a foreign language is a skill and not knowledge similarly to the skill of driving a vehicle which has nothing do to with knowledge about motor vehicles.

When describing the above preconditions for becoming a translator, we are trying to stress that the translator needs to know what he/she is writing about. The above is a must because a person who only knows a foreign language but lacks professional knowledge can probably only be an interpreter. The market of interpreting does not require knowledge but only language skills. Ideal situations, where the translator really understands all texts which are interpreted do not happen often.

Written translators must understand the issues discussed in the texts they translate. If they do not understand what they are translating, they commit crucial mistakes which cannot be avoided even when using a dictionary or a help of a friend. Knowledge of a given field of study is a must in the profession of a translator. If you do not believe the above, try to write a sentence in your mother tongue about a field of study you know nothing about. Without professional knowledge that is not possible. This simple rule applies to translations.

In order to become a translator, you need to know who you are, what your personal characteristics are, you have to possess professional knowledge, know a foreign language and be communicative in terms of cooperation with a translation agency which will work as the agent between you and the end customer. The agency will proof-read your translations and suit them to the market requirements as well as the individual requirements of the customer.

If you already are a good translator you should enjoy your work which, we may say, becomes the adventure of your life. If you know a popular language, such as English or German you can anticipate good remuneration.

Good luck!