Thursday, October 12, 2017

Careers For Linguists and Language Experts

Do you love languages? Do you speak and write two or more languages fluently? If so, you might want to consider a career as a translator or an interpreter.
Translators tend to work more with the written word, while interpreters generally deal with oral communication. This career area is growing, and is one of the easier international fields to break into without specific experience. Many people in the translation field come from a broad array of backgrounds.
"With more and more businesses going global, the market for translation services is in demand and continues to expand", notes Walter Bacak, executive director of the American Translators Association (ATA), in Intercom magazine. Bacak also reports that the field is projected to grow and, many more job opportunities are expected to fuel this growth.
According to the Guide to Careers in World Affairs, translators usually specialize in certain fields, like law, fiction and poetry, or science and technology. For example, a law firm doing work abroad would look to hire translation services to translate legal documents into another language. Publishing firms hire translators to translate books and poetry so books may be sold to overseas markets. And computer companies hire technical translators to rewrite instructions on computer programs and technology for overseas markets.
Because of the technical nature involved in so much of the work, it is usually not enough to simply be fluent in two or more languages. A professional certificate or training course is generally recommended. The most well-respected educational institution offering training in the field, according to Bacak, is the Monterrey Institute of International Studies. However, a specific academic background is not required beyond this formal training, making it one of the more accessible fields to enter as a midcareer professional.
To start a career in the field, an individual needs to get references or samples of their work. Bacak suggests either "volunteering for a freelance professional, or interning at a translation company." Another option is to offer to do some volunteer translation or interpretation for a nonprofit organization. Once you have examples of your work, you can begin to market yourself.
Approximately 70-80 percent of ATA members are freelancers. Whether you choose to work freelance or full-time for an employer is your own decision. The pros of working freelance are the same as for any consultant: You have the freedom of your time; the ability to accept a variety of interesting jobs; and to set your own rates. Working full-time for a translation agency or a business/government agency can be positive as well: You have a steady income, good benefits and no need to continually market yourself.
While global business is in a state of perpetual change, the need for professionals in interpretation and translation is actually growing. Keep your finger on the pulse of this market and you might find yourself in a flexible career that is in demand; allows you to use your writing and language skills; and meet new and interesting people
Which languages are currently in the most demand?
This changes constantly, according to several professionals in the field -- depending on economic and business trends, as well as the industry in which you are working as a translator. If you are doing legal translation, different languages may be more in demand than those required for technical translation. Spanish is certainly important, as is French, German, Japanese, and of course, English. There is demand for other languages as well, so if you have a different expertise, especially in a language that is more rare, you might be able to develop a market niche.
Who hires translators and interpreters?
Corporations tend to hire either consultants or organizations like Berlitz, the Translation Company of America, or individual freelancers that provide translation and interpretation services as their main business service. Some businesses have translators on staff, but this is becoming increasingly rare, as it is quite expensive. Government agencies and international organizations, such as the United Nations, also have interpreters on staff, and jobs are posted through their Web sites.
Tips to Break into the Field
As in many careers, internships are a great way to test out the fields of translation and interpretation if you are a student. If you are a mid-career professional contemplating a career change, it might be wise to enroll in a few courses towards a certificate program to see how you like the work.
For More Information
The American Translators Association: The largest professional association in the field has over 7200 members and publishes a guide entitled, Translation Interpretation Programs in North America, which can be ordered through their publications icon on their Web site.
Allied Business Intelligence, Inc. is a think tank specializing in communications and emerging technology markets. 
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