I was recently interviewed by a high school student for a class assignment regarding professions that may be of interest to the students of today. I was honored and excited as this opportunity is not common in the translation and interpretation industry. The usual high profile careers that are regulars at the annual “Career Day” are what I am accustomed to experiencing at such school events. So the initial contact by this female student was truly appreciated and admired. She found me via Twitter and politely asked if I would help her with her schoolwork. I was happy to share my career experience and personal perspective on this often dismissed but highly important profession, especially in today’s global community. I believe the questions are of merit and share the interview with you here today. Enjoy.
NH: What educational training is necessary for this job?
TCR: Translation and interpretation are like any other professional career, they necessitate formal training and career development. Translation is written, whereas interpreting is spoken. There is a distinction of which many people are not aware. Even though I am bilingual and bicultural since the second grade, this did not formally prepare me for a successful translation career. I studied the Spanish language as an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University, and later obtained a Master of Arts in Spanish literature and linguistics. I continue to further my professional training through various workshops, seminars, and conferences focusing on the industries of translation and interpretation.
NH: What kind of work experience will prepare a candidate for this field?
TCR: The American Literary Translators Association has great advice on getting started as a literary translator that I believe is great for any candidate considering the profession of translation. That is to read widely and develop excellent writing skills in both the source language, and the target language—English, for this purpose–as well as study the source culture, that of the foreign language from which you will be translating. Lastly, collaborations, whereby novice translators work with experienced translators and receive a real-time translation project experience.
NH: What kind of job satisfaction does this field offer?
TCR: Personally, the utmost satisfaction of a translation project is the gratifying feeling of having shared a cultural, literary treasure with another audience. The ability to share with the other a unique experience and opening his/her mind to a wider range of possibilities, thoughts, and ideas is rewarding, as well as gratifying.
NH: What are the future employment prospects for this profession?
TCR: As the world becomes smaller, through the use of technology and media, it will no longer be satisfactory to be a monolingual individual. The advantage of being multilingual and multicultural will make for a successful global citizen able to travel the world without the usual language barriers and culture shocks that exist today. The employment prospects would therefore be wide open.
NH: Are there disadvantages in this profession?
TCR: Recognition and respect for the profession would be the chief disadvantage. Multilingualism and the art of translation as original and creative work have had trouble garnering the respect and professional credit due them. Also, public awareness for translation as a profession is limited in which other professional industries fail to recognize the need to utilize professional translators for projects and giving proper credit and compensation.
NH: What characteristics does a person need to have in order to be successful in this field?
TCR: Ultimately an individual would have to have a passion for languages and cultures. The translator needs to thrive on language’s distinct characteristic of being organic and ever evolving. The translator is a person that can work alone for hours, as well as collaborate with others. This person must enjoy the art of creatively communicating and sharing the literary gifts of another.
*Beneficial sources to learn more about the professions of translation and interpretation include,