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Getting started in the language translation industry

Here at Lingua Translations. we’re often approached by linguists looking to set foot into the language translation industry. As we often hear ourselves saying, knowing a second language by no means makes you a translator, and making your mark in the translation industry can certainly be hard work at times. This article aims to give some handy hints and tips to anyone looking to move into the industry, and the best steps to take to make a name for yourself in the world of translation.

First of all, you should be aware that most translation agencies will have fairly stringent vetting procedures, and approaching them without experience in the industry will unfortunately almost always lead to disappointment. Many translation agencies will also require applicants to hold a degree. Holding a university degree shows that you have a high level of linguistic competence, alongside writing skills and the ability to keep to deadlines; all essential skills for a translator.

With regard to experience, a great place to start is by completing translations for charities or individuals. Although these may be poorly paid (or completely unpaid), they will give you an invaluable insight into the industry, and will give you the experience you need to allow you to apply to work within larger translation agencies, which can secure a steady flow of paid work in the future.

Another great place to start would be the Institute of Translators and Interpreters (ITI), or the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL). These are essentially online communities for anyone who works within, or indeed is looking to work in the translation industry. There are membership fees for both the ITI and the CIoL, but they are both great resources for getting started in the translation industry. There are also huge discounts for students, so if you’re looking to make a start in language translation straight from university, then this would be a perfect starting point.

The next thing to do is to get a great C.V. together. Make sure it’s relevant to the translation industry so that potential employers can clearly see your knowledge, experience, and language expertise. As is the case in most industries, if a C.V. isn’t clear, concise and relevant, then it won’t be memorable.

Another handy hint for translators who want to make themselves known in the industry is to create a website and a blog, showcasing your passion for translation alongside examples of your work. Domain names can be bought for as little as £10 these days, and this will show potential clients your professionalism and your dedication, but more importantly show off your translation skills.

We’d be interested to hear of any other hints or tips that any established linguists out there might have for any budding translators. How did you make your mark in language translation, and what’s the best piece of advice you can offer to anyone looking to work in the industry?

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About Sharon Stephens

Sharon Stephens is Operations Director of Lingua Translation. With a First Class Honours Degree in Translation and a University Lecturer in Translation (Masters), she is a self confessed language geek! Bringing the academic principles of translation and business together Sharon offers a quality-driven and needs centric translation and interpreting service - like no other.

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