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Skills for Success: 6 Abilities Every Translator Needs

The translation process does not only rely upon translators’ linguistic competences. Nowadays, a successful career in translation requires information processing skills and a few special IT skills. In  other words, and quoting Susanne J. Jetak and Gary Massey, “[t]his is apparent from the very first stages of the translation process, when communication between the translator and the client, and the processing of the source text, will in most cases be effected electronically.” Do you need to figure out how to select the best translation services provider? Are you are a translator yourself? In either case, the list below will help you understand the basic skills all translators should master:

1. Basic Software Skills

To begin with, translators need advanced knowledge of word processing software. A few years ago, it was enough to have some knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. However, nowadays, any translator must acquit themselves with software for desktop publishing, conversion of speech to text, quality assurance, among others. These skills are becoming increasingly necessary to achieve a successful career.

2. Knowledge of CAT Tools

Secondly, computer-assisted translation tools play an important part in the translation process. They help translators increase their daily output, as well as consistency and quality. Moreover, they assist translators in managing their time and resources more effectively. CAT tools are not the same as machine translation, though.

3. Typing Skills

In the third place, the ability to touch-type and type fast will save translators a lot of time and increase their productivity. Besides, having to look down at the keyboard means a higher chance of back and neck pain. However, those translators who are not great at keyboarding always have the option of using speech-to-text software.

4. Programming Skills

Certain knowledge of programming is essential for translators specialised in IT, gaming, and other areas involving coding. In the case of translators who provide website translation services, being able to work with WordPress can come in handy, as many clients want their translations done directly on their websites. Moreover, a significant percentage of websites all over the world use WordPress.

5. Knowledge of Project Management

In the words of PhD Celia Rico Perez, “[p]roject management is about coordination, teamwork, planning, and control techniques; (…) it has lately gained a name in the translation profession due, mainly, to market growth and virtual teams. When translation is subcontracted to teams communicating through the Internet, (…) project management offers essential tools for translation providers.”

6. Research Skills

There is so much variation in the texts that translators work with that many of them end up having to pick up specialised vocabulary quickly. In this sense, figuring out how to find out what they do not know becomes essential. It is important to consider that developing good research skills takes practice because it involves learning how to find useful, relevant, and trustworthy information online.

Food for Thought

Quoting PhD Celia Rico Perez again, being computer literate is a sine-qua-non condition for any translator looking to thrive, as “the working environment of the translator is evolving towards decentralised global teams where technology is at the core of the process.”

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