8 Tips That Help You Become the Professional Translator

What comes to the mind of most people when hearing about professional translators is certification. While this is definitely an important step that can boost a translator’s reputation and visibility, it is not a mandatory one as translators can also achieve proficiency in their niches without formal certifications. Below, we list a few tips to help in this endeavor.

Tips and Tricks to Master the Art of Translation

1. Spend time and resources to get familiar with the corresponding terminology. 

The proper use of terminology is one of the key signs of a professional translation and typically, researching the meaning of specific terms and their correct translation is the most time-consuming step by far. What may seem a subtle difference to an uninitiated person can prove a world of difference to a person from the corresponding field.

2. Specialize. 

The necessity to be knowledgeable about both the terminology and the context of a given discipline or industry requires one to decide which domains of activity or knowledge to specialize in. It would be simply impossible to ace all of them, so one must choose.

3. Arm yourself with dictionaries. 

You’ll need bilingual dictionaries, thesauri, explanatory dictionaries, dictionaries of terminology, and context-aware translation tools. The latter can translate word combinations by displaying their context both in the original language and the target language, helping to quickly pinpoint the best fitting words or synonyms.

4. Embrace other digital tools that can boost your productivity. 

For instance, search engines enable one to look up the number of “exact matches” for any word combination in the target language across the entire web, which allows judging about its popularity relative to other translation candidates. OCR tools are also very useful in converting scanned pages into text, recreating many formatting elements, such as tables, which helps to save lots of time.  

5. Learn from the competition. 

If you are an independent/ freelance translator, it is vital to keep an eye on translation agencies to understand the range of services they offer, the rates they charge, and the innovations they implement. One way to do this is to read translation service reviews in order to get summarized and trustworthy information. Reading such reviews helps to become aware of the translation industry landscape.

6. Inform yourself about the legal aspects of handling personal data. 

Oftentimes, clients entrust translators with very sensitive information, so translators must know how to approach this, how to process such information, and whether it is ok to store it upon task completion – the latter could be highly useful when clients return later for a copy of the translation.

7. Educate yourself on the culture and the trends of the nations that speak the foreign languages you work with. 

This not only helps to understand the context of many translation tasks or to avoid embarrassing situations but also to perform localizations – another service many translation agencies offer nowadays.

8. Learn to interact and cooperate with the client. 

Oftentimes, clients are better equipped to understand the content to be translated. For instance, it might be related to their work, biography, or cultural background. That’s why it is wise to send the final draft of the paper to the client so that the latter can skim through it and introduce corrections/ suggestions. You can verify these edits later and chances are high that many of these would make sense.

Final Thoughts

How do I define a good translation? If you show it to others alongside the original, they shouldn’t be able to tell which has served as the source. This is fairly tricky to achieve, requiring a subtle understanding of the nuances of each language and an ability to convey these nuances. If you are good at this and love the process, no challenge should be too hard.


Melony has been working mostly in the field of academic content writing. This involved performing thorough on-demand research in narrow subjects and then writing up and documenting her findings following the rigor of academic norms. Nowadays, she shares advice on many aspects of documented writing, including how to work with sources and citations.

  Print this Article