Professional Translation Services – The Hallmarks of Truly Professional Translators
The professional translation service industry is highly competitive and challenging. In order to succeed, a professional translator needs more than just familiarity in a language pair. Here are some of the characteristics of successful linguistic experts.
The first and most obvious requirement is language skills. It goes without saying that professional translators must be fluent in at least one language besides their native tongue. A passing or informal knowledge is not enough. Language Translation as a professional service requires the systematic study of a foreign and/or second language. A university or equivalent degree on professional translation or related field may have been desirable a few years ago but in the current market it’s an absolute must.
A professional in the translation field needs to be curious by nature and possess excellent research skills. Contrary to public perception, document translators are not walking dictionaries. Even generalists cannot be expected to be experts on every field and to be up to date on the latest terminology. Truly professional translators need to be very straight-forward about the things they do know and the things they do not know and be able fill the gaps by researching for the appropriate terminology and information. Research can take many forms, from good old-fashioned paper and ink dictionaries and text books to the vast amounts of information on the Internet.
Good translators need to be proficient with the latest translation tools, such as translation memory management and glossary creation and maintenance tools. At the very least, they should be advanced users of word processor programs, such as MS Word, and other tools such as the Adobe Acrobat suite.
In addition to possessing professional training on languages, a professional translator has to be highly proficient in written communication. Translating is essentially the transmission of meaning from one language to another. The document translator has to be able to accurately and thoroughly deliver in the target language the same message expressed in the source language. Remember that good writing skills in one language are usually tied to very solid reading habits in the same language.
With globalization and the opening up of markets in different areas of the planet, professional translations are in very high demand from companies dealing with the most varied commercial activities. The more subjects, fields and industries professional translators can cover the more work they can potentially take. This does not mean professional translators have to improvise or pretend they can deal with professional translations covering any area of expertise. It means that professional translators have to stay current with the changes in the translation services industry and the needs of potential customers. Additionally, professional translators must be true experts in the fields they claim they can handle. Improvisation is a recipe for catastrophic failure and a sure sign of lack of professionalism.
Last but not least, it is important to always keep in mind that a translator may have graduated with honors from a very prestigious university but those credentials would mean very little without a proper professional attitude. What does it mean to be professional? It means approaching work with discipline and commitment. Professional translators work in the service industry. Professional translation requires the commitment to deliver the highest quality professional translations according to a previously agreed schedule. Professional translators should have very efficient time management skills and take only the amount of work they can professionally handle. Remember that while it is very nice to get paid for doing what we love, if it is a hobby, it is not professional translation.
Professional translators working for professional translation services companies such as ASTA-USA Translation Services, Inc. and its legal division, Legal Translation Solutions, understand that being a truly professional translator requires much more than bilingualism.