ON THE INTERPRETER SIDE
What do interpreters do? What does a “typical” interpretation job entail?
An interpreter’s job is to orally communicate a message effectively, quickly and accurately from one language into another. This can be done consecutively (person speaks and pauses, interpreter follows with translation) or simultaneously (person speaks and interpreter translates simultaneously from a separate booth into a microphone and people can listen to the translation if they choose, usually through a headset). The interpreter is neutral and bound by a confidentiality agreement.
What are some of the main challenges associated with being an interpreter?
Interpreters are highly skilled individuals, often working under enormous pressure. Dealing with stress is probably one of the main challenges that an interpreter has to face, especially during simultaneous interpretation. The message has to be conveyed instantaneously so the interpreter has to process the information in the source language and find the appropriate words to translate the information in the target language.
It can be very difficult to translate cultural references, idioms, and specialized terminology, especially on the fly. A lot of preparation time is needed, often with reference material, and interpreters are chosen depending on their education and work experience. For example, you would need someone with an engineering background to interpret at a conference in that field, or someone with experience with medical terminology to interpret at a medical seminar, etc. They all can’t be experts at everything!
What are some of the “perks”/rewards of being an interpreter?
One obvious reward for being an interpreter is all the traveling: conferences and meetings are held everywhere in the world and an interpreter can be asked to be on one continent one day and on another the next. Interpreters usually encounter a lot of different cultures and see a lot of countries. Another very interesting part of being an interpreter is the variety of the subjects studied: it can range from politics to arts and culture, from official meetings to public events, etc.
Prior to obtaining training, what skills/traits are required/recommended in order to be a professional interpreter?
Any interpreter will tell you the same thing: it is not so much your ability to speak many foreign languages that matters, but more your curiosity and your proficiency in your mother tongue. If you master your native tongue and are open-minded, as long as you understand the speaker, you will be able to process and convey his or her speech in your own language in a very natural way. As discussed above, it is also useful to have a specialized background in a particular field. Interpreters are typically people-persons who love to travel and learn about different cultures and topics.
What training/education is required in order to be a professional interpreter?
It really depends on what kind of interpreter you want to be and where you want to work. For example, to become a certified court interpreter in British Columbia, you would need to be a member of the STIBC (Society of Translators and Interpreters of British Columbia) and take specific exams. You can get more information at http://www.stibc.org/.
Is there currently much demand for skilled/professional interpreters in Vancouver/the Lower Mainland? Will there be continued/more demand in the future?
Yes, there is particular demand for English-French Simultaneous Interpreters for conferences and other events, as well as consecutive and court interpreters in Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, Korean and Spanish.
Who are some typical employers for interpreters?
Corporate event planners and Marketing and Media companies who plan events for companies; large companies who organize annual general meetings; universities and educational research facilities who host conferences and seminars; the courts and law offices who need interpretation for their cases; any business that has international contacts may have key people coming to visit or tour their factory, mine, etc. Language services companies like LingoStar will receive requests from these employers and solicit the work from professional freelance interpreters.
Are there many opportunities within the field to become a freelancer/contractor or to start one’s own business?
It depends on the language pair and specialized background. Networking in the local language community is important, as word gets around that one is a reliable interpreter, companies will be more likely to hire them. Getting a profile up on proz.com or translatorscafe.com, as well as becoming a member of their local, provincial organization of translators and interpreters will get their name out there.
Is your firm currently hiring new interpreters? If so, how may our job-seeking readers find out more?
Yes, LingoStar is always looking to expand our interpreter database. Interested parties should email us at email@example.com with their CV/resume and cover letter detailing their language, education and work experience. They can also check out our website for more information: dev.lingo-star.com
ON THE TRANSLATION SIDE
What do translators do? What does a “typical” translation job entail?
Translators transform a written text from one language into their native language. However, it is not a simple conversion; often cultural subtleties have to be taken into account. A “typical” translation job consists of receiving (a) source document(s) from a client or a translation agency, translating it into the target language(s), proofreading it and delivering it with respect to the deadline. In order to assure a quality translation, LingoStar always has every translated document edited and proofread by a second qualified translator who tracks their changes, and then the edited file is sent back to the original translator for a final review. The final translation is again spot-checked by the LingoStar in-house team for minor formatting errors or typos.
What are some of the main challenges associated with being a translator?
A translator is required to know the subjects of the documents that he/she is translating. A lot of translators decide to specialize in one field (medical, legal, marketing, etc.). Being familiar with the culture of the languages he/she is working with is really important. And of course, respecting the deadline is one of the most challenging parts of being a translator. A translator has to be really organized as he/she will be working on several translations at the same time. Sometimes deadlines can be very tight and the translator will need to research, write and edit their work under a lot of pressure.
What are some of the “perks”/rewards of being a translator?
Translators get to know different cultures and study different topics. Each translator has his/her own style, so translating is like writing in a certain way. For instance, translators who translate literature have to be good writers, as good as the authors. Translators who work with marketing text get to incorporate their unique style in order to provide an appealing translation to the client’s target market.
Freelance work has its own perks as well. Freelance translators get to be their own boss, work from home, choose the projects they like to work on (as long as they are getting enough requests) and take time off when needed.
Prior to obtaining training, what skills/traits are required/recommended in order to be a professional translator?
Usually, people who want to be professional translators love foreign languages. They are curious about everything, not only about the languages but also about different cultures. Reading is really important in a translator’s life. The main skill for a translator is to know perfectly well his/her native language and to be good communicators.
They should also be well versed in basic computer skills and word processing programs, particularly Word and Excel, and should have access to language dictionaries, reference materials in their specialized field and any terminology databases that are available. They should keep on top of current technologies in regards to software and localization programs. Specialized translation software like Trados is often used for large texts.
What training/education is required in order to be a professional translator?
There are many ways to become a translator. One is to go through training at a school that offers language and translation courses. A translator can also be someone who is fluent in two or more languages and has good writing skills. A degree or work experience in a particular industry or field will help them to get work in that particular area. To be a certified translator, they must become a member of their provincial organization (STIBC) and pass the required exams.
Is there currently much demand for skilled/professional translators in Vancouver/the Lower Mainland? Will there be continued/more demand in the future?
In this day and age of globalization, there is always a demand for translators as companies are looking to expand into global markets. They want their websites and promotional materials translated into languages their target markets will understand, and once they establish business relations, they need business documents translated. Translators can also provide work from whatever location in the world they are as long as they have access to email. So they can work for clients located anywhere in the world.
Who are some typical employers for translators?
Any company that needs to communicate internationally or has business contacts in other countries; businesses who want to appeal to a particular target audience; marketing and media companies who need to provide promotional materials (brochures, websites, corporate videos) for their clients; and individuals who need official documents (university diplomas, birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports) translated for Immigration or legal purposes.
Are there many opportunities within the field to become a freelancer/contractor or to start one’s own business?
Sure. A good way for a translator to start acquiring experience is for them to get their CV/resume to as many translation agencies as they can and fill out their forms if they send them some. They can offer to do a free sample or test translation so the company can evaluate their skills. Then remind and update them every once in a while on their availability if they don’t hear back from them, but don’t pester them too much! Once they’ve established a working relationship with a few agencies and/or have developed a client base, they may need extra help and can outsource or employ colleagues to translate or edit documents and slowly build their own business.
Is your firm currently hiring new translators? If so, how may our job-seeking readers find out more?
Yes, LingoStar is always looking to expand our translator database. Interested parties should email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with their CV/resume and cover letter detailing their language, education and work experience. They can also check out our website for more information: dev.lingo-star.com