Translation and Interpretation: Build a Career with Your Language Skills

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Do you speak more than one language fluently? If so, you have the potential to pursue several language-related freelance career paths in translation and interpretation, all of which you can comfortably do from home.

In this post, we’ve taken a look at seven career options for bilingual freelancers, as well as the supporting skills that will help you to flourish as a professional linguist. Let’s dive in.

Finding Translation and Interpretation Work

Translation and interpretation work, along with the various associated job options that we look at below, can easily be undertaken from home, making these some excellent pandemic-proof career choices.

Remote interpretation has a wide range of business uses, for example, with phone interpreters delivering their services via video call or even good, old-fashioned phone calls. All you need is a decent internet connection, the relevant meeting app and to track down the work in the first place.

There are a couple of ways that you can do this. Firstly, you can apply to work for translation agencies, a topic that we go into detail on in this post. Agency work can provide you with a steady source of clients, without you having to deal with the marketing and credit control side of the work. By registering with several translation agencies, you can maximise your potential for income.

Then there’s Upwork. At the time of writing, a search for ‘translation’ produces 5,412 job listings, while ‘interpretation’ turns up 540. Whether you love or hate the platform, there’s no shortage of language-related jobs on it.

Translation Isn’t Just About Language

If you’re interested in providing translation or interpretation services for a living, bear in mind that doing so is about more than simply your ability to speak two languages fluently.

To work as a translator, for example, you’ll need exceptional attention to detail. To work as an interpreter, meanwhile, you will benefit hugely from have excellent interpersonal skills and a heightened sense of empathy, particularly if you’re providing consecutive interpretation (we’ll look below at the different types of interpretation).

Whether you’re keen to translate for a living or have your eye on a career as a multilingual content writer, it also helps to have some kind of specialist or sector-specific knowledge. Medical interpreters, for example, have the potential to earn more than regular interpreters. The same is true for those with everything from specialist legal knowledge to marketing expertise.

Seven Career Paths to Translate Your Language Skills into Profits

If you’re looking to translate your language skills into an income, you have plenty of options. Here are seven that are likely to appeal.

Translation

What are translation services? They are the conversion of one language to another, usually in written format but also sometimes from audio and video files.

Working as a professional translator is an excellent career choice for those who love working with words. You can offer specialist expertise, such as video translation or financial translation, in order to attract higher-paying clients.

You can discover more in our case study, which looks at what it’s like to work as a translator.

Localization

Often described as taking translation to the next level, localization is the adaptation of translated materials to suit a particular culture. The localization expert considers everything from potentially offensive language to image choices in order to shape the translation to better suit its intended audience.

Transcreation

If you’re a creative type as well as a linguist, it’s worth exploring a career in transcreation. Transcreation experts help companies to deliver marketing campaigns in entirely new ways in order to connect with very different audiences.

While the intended outcome remains the same (usually brand promotion, selling a product or both), the transcreated campaign will likely bear little resemblance to the marketing campaign in the original language.

Interpretation

What are interpretation services? They are the spoken equivalent of translation services. Instead of translating a document, the interpreter converts an individual’s speech into another language. Like translation, it’s a skilled undertaking and requires plenty of practice to perfect!

What are the different types of interpretation?

There are various sorts, but simultaneous interpretation and consecutive interpretation are the most common. Simultaneous interpretation is the kind provided at conferences (or webinars, during the lockdown), where delegates wear headsets to listen to the interpreter deliver the speaker’s words in real-time.

Consecutive interpretation, on the other hand, is where the interpreter facilitates a conversation between two or more people, with participants and the interpreter taking it in turns to speak.

Multilingual Content Writing

If you love to write, why not do it in more than one language? By doing so, you’ll vastly increase the number of potential writing jobs available to you!

Desktop Publishing

Many international companies want to deliver the same information but in different languages. This can create some serious design headaches, with different languages using different numbers of words to say the same thing. If you can offer companies an easy, painless solution to their multilingual design problems, many will be more than happy to engage your services.

Multilingual Customer Support Services

Finally, if you’re a ‘people person’ and like to help others, why not explore working as a multilingual customer support agent? You’ll be part of a $350 billion industry, with all of the associated work opportunities that that brings with it.

Many large companies outsource their customer support function, particularly when they need to provide it in multiple languages, and there are plenty of progressive language service providers out there who provide customer support services by employing agents remotely.

Building a Language-based Career – Final Thoughts

Building a career out of your second language can be both enjoyable and profitable. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected change in employment for translators and interpreters between 2018 and 2028 is growth of 19% (compared to average growth of 5% across all occupations).

You can carry out all of the jobs listed above remotely and with fairly minimal start-up costs and time. So why not put your second language to good use by building a career around it?

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