For many people around the world, the first thing that springs to mind when the name translator is mentioned is the ability to comprehend, speak, read and write in a particular language of an educated native speaker. While this may be quite true, it is important to remember that fluency is only the first step in becoming a professional translator. Like any other profession, it requires practice, experience and training. While different people may take different paths, below are some useful guidelines:

Get Certified – Accreditation or Certification is one of the first steps one must take because having credentials provides proof that you have the skills required to translate or interpret professionally. There are a number of learning institutions providing training in this field of work. Being registered with relevant industry organisations also goes a long way because you stand a chance of being listed on website directories where potential clients requiring your services can find you.

Get Tested – One of the most effective ways to build your resume is to take language proficiency tests. These tests show potential clients and employers that indeed you are fluent in your specific language.

Gain Experience – In any professional field of work, nothing beats experience. In order to gain this much needed experience, doing internships or working entry level jobs to climb the ladder is never a bad idea and the language industry is no exception. It is advisable to get experience where you can show samples of your work to potential clients and get recommendation.

Market Yourself – After getting the much needed credentials and some experience, it’s time to market oneself to law firms, hospitals, government agencies and language agencies that may need translators or interpreters in your area. Most translators work for clients on a contract basis, not as full time employees. A great way to market your services is to start a website or blog and join the active community of online language professionals.

Learning never Stops – Being a translator is a dynamic field of work, learning therefore never stops. Try to keep up with industry terms and trends, upgrade your computer skills, diversify your skills set, etc.

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