How to Become a Translator? Important Steps to Your Dream Job

Many of our translation services professionals started out with a passion for learning a foreign language. Then, they inquired how to become a translator and decided that this is the career path they want to follow. If you share the same ideals, then this article is for you.

We will detail the steps to become a translator, as well as the difference between various specializations (translating vs. interpreting). As a professional translating agency, we believe that every new professional translator joining our field of work is a great gain to the profession. Individuals and businesses will always need professional translation services. Thus, the translator’s career is assured, despite the rise of AI and translation apps.

Young professional working as an interpreter

A translator can work from anywhere using a computer.

What You Need to Know About Working as an Interpreter

First of all, you should know that there are differences between the translator and interpreter profession. A professional interpreter has to translate someone’s words in real time, without looking up words in dictionaries. Interpreters must be good at reading body language and tone of voice to differentiate between an earnest speech and a joke or anecdote.

Moreover, the profession of the interpreter involves qualification in localization – the ability to understand local dialects, words used in their proper or figurative meaning, etc. Last but not least, interpreters have to hone their pronunciation so that their spoken translation is clearly understood by the intended recipients.

Where Is a Need for the Interpreter Profession?

In general, interpreters are needed at events (trade fairs, conventions, keynote speeches) and business meetings. Depending on the circumstances, the interpreter has to translate at the same time as the person who is speaking (simultaneous interpretation) or note the person’s words and translate when they pause the speech (consecutive interpretation).

In all circumstances, a professional interpreter must have very good knowledge of the source language, including colloquial terms and specialized phrases and acronyms. 

These Are the Most Important Steps to Become a Translator

Let us now tell you how to become a translator and reach a level of specialization that allows you to join a professional agency:

A translator listening to a recording; this is what working as an interpreter involves

An interpreter’s work requires a lot of focus and dedication.

Learn the Chosen Language Well

Your first step towards qualification as a professional translator is becoming proficient in the chosen language. You should reach a near-native level in terms of speaking, reading, and understanding the spoken language.

This is probably the longest in all the steps to become a translator – learning another language at this level requires years of training and practicing. The internet is your best ally – you can become friends with people from all over the world and teach each other your respective native languages. 

Also, you should read as many books in the chosen language as possible. This will help you enrich your vocabulary, a key step if you want to be working as an interpreter or translator.

Get Specialized Training

Learning a language on your own or with a tutor is not enough. Every guide on how to become a translator will tell you that you also have to enroll in specialized courses. You will learn the specifics of translation, the differences between a certified translation and a notarized translation, the requirements for specialized translations, etc.  

Get Certified

One of the most important steps to become a translator is becoming certified. A certified translator can provide translations required by government agencies, courts, institutions, and various businesses. 

In the US, there are several certifications available:

  • ATA – American Translators Association
  • NAJIT – National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators
  • NBCMI – National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters

Depending on the certification you get, you can be working as an interpreter in courts (translating testimonies and cross-questioning individuals who are not sufficiently proficient in English) or in a hospital, helping patients who do not know English well to communicate with healthcare professionals.

Learn the Industry Terms

Each profession has its specialized terms and phrases. For this reason, one of the main points in our list on how to become a translator is learning the terms translators use when discussing professional aspects.

All translating and interpreting agencies use them when giving you instructions for each project. This piece of advice is applicable whether you want to be a translator or wish to be working as an interpreter.

Sharpen Your Computer Skills

If you ask a professional how to become a translator, they will tell you that you must have advanced computer skills. Most translations are now done using specialized software suites. Knowing how to use them is a must. Also, among the steps to become a translator is the requirement to learn and abide by data protection and confidentiality rules. You will have access to sensitive documents. Any translator must understand the risks of using email for sending documents or an unsecured internet connection. 

Student in front of laptop learning about the steps to become a translator

Future translators need to learn how to use specialized software.

Start Learning New Languages

The translator or interpreter profession is not limited to one pair of languages. Professional agencies employ translators who have qualifications in two or even three foreign languages. In this profession, you should never stop learning and honing your skills.

We Know How to Become a Translator – So Join Us!

At Pronto Translations, you will find an experienced team of translators and interpreters working for a professional agency with over 20 years of experience. After you’ve passed through all the steps to become a translator, get in touch with us here in New York, NY to discuss your potential career options.

Call us now at 646-984-4073. Our services are available worldwide online.