Many young people study languages at school and university each year with the aim of starting a career as a translator but, just like many other professions, translation work has undergone profound changes in recent years, mainly due to technological innovations, which have made the job easier but also more specialised.
So, what skills do you need to possess if you’re hoping to become a translator? Let’s find out.
Working as a translator in the digital age: what’s changed?
Until recently, finding a job as a translator required a good command of the language in question and an in-depth knowledge of the translation subject matter. A translator’s main work tool was a dictionary and texts were typed up using a typewriter. The speed of translation work was therefore subject to the physical limits of certain tools, whose effectiveness depended entirely on human intervention.
These days, thanks to the use of software known as CAT tools, we can now translate large swathes of technical and scientific texts in a semi-automatic manner, using translation memories created by the translator, or by other professionals who have made their work available. In these situations, the bulk of a translator’s work involves carefully checking translated texts in order to make sure they flow perfectly in the target language.
Translators working in the industry today therefore require good IT skills and a certain familiarity with the digital world. These days, the only tool strictly necessary to work as a translator is a computer with a good Internet connection.
What does online translation work entail?
The web is now able to provide translators with a huge amount of information and numerous tools, including online dictionaries (which are constantly updated and no longer affected by the obsolescence of pricey paper dictionaries) and large collections of texts, which can be used as sources or reference materials (something that was simply unthinkable until a few years ago).
Taking on translation jobs from home is therefore not only possible, but also a sensible working approach to this particular profession in the digital age.
Collaboration with a professional translation agency (or more than one) allows professional translators to obtain a certain number of jobs and therefore to secure a more or less constant flow of work and income.
The future of translation work
The translation industry is certainly expanding in the world economy, and the strengthening of international relations in the economic, diplomatic and trade spheres will continue to guarantee a continuous demand for professional translations, as will the publishing of academic materials and literary works, which require texts to be translated in a huge number of language combinations.
Working as a translator therefore involves putting one’s knowledge and skills at the service of a future that will undoubtedly involve the integration and internationalisation of knowledge.
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