Opportunities abound for translators

Opportunities abound for translators

As the global economy shrinks, the demand for translation – written communication – and interpretation – spoken communication – jobs is exploding. (Istockphoto.com)

By Elaine Varelas, boston.com
May 18, 2008

Q. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Net looking for a job as an interpreter in America. I’m an English graduate, I’ve been a journalist for 23 years in radio, TV, and print journalism. Would you please help me?
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A. This is a great question about a fast-growing industry. As the global economy shrinks, the demand for language services is exploding. There are opportunities in translation, which is written communication, and interpretation, which is spoken. It is important to note the differences in these two services when you look at your job options. Fortunately, no matter where you are located, you can find work as a linguist.

To better understand the opportunities, I consulted Wendy Pease of Rapport International, a language services firm based in Sudbury that offers translation and interpretation services.

“There are many ways to provide linguistic services in either full-time employment or contract work through agencies, global companies, and providers of community services,” she said.

“Full-time jobs are found via regular job-search avenues like networking and using online job boards. If you’re looking for contract work, it takes effort on the individual’s part to connect with the organizations that hire and market themselves. By sending an e-mail blast or telephoning the targeted agencies, you may have luck. Make sure to explain your language pair (fluent knowledge in your native language) and the specific languages and areas where you have expertise. Rarely will we hire anyone who says that they ‘translate anything.’ ”

Even if you are monolingual, there are a number of other positions available in this industry, such as sales and project management. Detail-oriented project managers with an understanding of translation management software such as SDL Trados are in demand now. As the industry grows, support positions in finance and IT will see an increase in demand, too. To work in this industry, you must be passionate about working with people from a variety of backgrounds.

The language services industry is highly fragmented, and experts expect to see consolidation over the next decade. There are a few large companies and thousands of small agencies just in the United States. Many firms were started by translators or interpreters who started offering services in languages other than the original one that they provided. This is a great time to tap into a budding industry.