You may have thought that there will soon be no need for human translators as translation will all be done automatically. If this was even remotely true, it would mean that you could forget about becoming a professional German English translator, let alone an expert one.
The reality is that the demand for professional human translators is actually growing and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon, despite the very real advances in translation technology. At the moment, commercial-grade machine translation is seen as an aid available to human translators rather than a complete replacement. The gap may be slowly shrinking and it may be that in the future, the human translator’s work will be made much easier, but not entirely replaced. The future for budding professional translators, especially in the most commonly used languages like German looks bright. So, how do you go about becoming a German English translation expert?
Here are some tips
#1. Develop fluency in the languages you want to specialize in first. It stands to reason that the most important criterion for becoming a professional translator is to be able to understand and use the chosen pair of languages fluently. There are many different ways of doing this. It is well known that the younger you are, the better your chance of learning a language other than your own native language. Millions of people all around the world are genuinely bilingual and multilingual and they are certainly not all translators or interpreters. It just shows that when there is an incentive to learn another language, it can be surprisingly easy to do.
Of course, some people have a head start as they may have parents who speak two or more different languages so they grow up naturally learning more than one language themselves. Or they may grow up or go to school in a country where the language is different from their own native language, so there is a very good reason for picking up the language quickly.
#2. Decide whether you want to become a translator or an interpreter. This is often a matter of personal choice and an assessment of job possibilities. Translators and interpreters share a lot in common but there are substantial differences in the sort of skills involved. Interpreters convert the spoken word and often have to do so while in the face to face contact with who they are interpreting for, making it more personal. Translators convert the written or printed word, making their job more remote and perhaps more impersonal. You can’t easily swap from one profession to another and if you apply for a course, you will need to choose one or the other.
#3. Take a course. Courses are offered in most larger colleges and universities and will provide you with skills that you can use to gain certification and a job. You will find that becoming a good translator is much more than just being fluent in the language(s) you will be able to offer.
#4. Get certified. The types of translation certificates available depend on the country you live in and maybe part of the translation course you take. In the U.S., the American Translators Association (ATA) offers certification for qualified translators in that country. In Australia, trained translators can sit exams for different translator and interpreter accreditations with the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). Accreditation allows translators to get a much greater variety of jobs as many government bodies, in particular, require NAATI certification for translated work.
#5. Target a specialized translation niche. Most professional translators eventually become specialized in a particular niche. For example, you might become a technical translator, scientific or medical translator, business translator, legal translator, marketing or literary translator to mention some of the main fields. There are of course quite a number of translators who tend to generalize, but there is more money to be made once you have acquired experience in a more specialized field. If you have had previous background knowledge in .say, the legal profession or in the medical world, then it would be a natural transition to become a specialized legal or medical document translator.