Translator job profile | (2023)

Translators use their language skills to translate one written language into another, retaining the meaning of the original text as closely as possible

As a translator, you'll convert written material from one or more 'source languages' into the 'target language', making sure that the translated version conveys the meaning of the original as clearly as possible. The target language is normally your mother tongue.

Transcreation may also be part of the job, which is a mix of translation, localisation (taking into account factors such as cultural nuances) and copywriting, where the text is culturally and linguistically adapted to suit the reader.

Types of translation

You can translate a variety of content, including:

  • commercial
  • educational
  • financial
  • legal
  • marketing and advertising
  • medical
  • political
  • scientific
  • technical.

You could also work as a literary translator, translating works of fiction, or as a subtitler, translating dialogue on films, TV programmes and video games.


As a translator, you'll need to:

  • read through original material and rewrite it in the target language, ensuring that the meaning of the source text is retained
  • use translation memory software, such as Wordfast, memoQ, Across, Trados Studio and Transit NXT, to ensure consistency of translation within documents and help efficiency
  • use specialist dictionaries, thesauruses and reference books to find the closest equivalents for terminology and words used
  • use appropriate software for presentation and delivery
  • research legal, technical and scientific phraseology to find the correct translation
  • liaise with clients to discuss any unclear points
  • proofread and edit final translated versions
  • provide quotations for translation services offered
  • consult with experts in specialist areas
  • retain and develop knowledge on specialist areas of translation
  • follow various translation-quality standards to ensure legal and ethical obligations to the customer.


Salaries for translators in the UK vary widely and freelance rates are often calculated according to the word count. Your income will depend on a range of factors including your experience and qualifications, the nature of the work you're translating (general or specialist) and the level of demand for the languages.

Translation of highly specialised texts, from or into unusual languages, demands higher rates than general translation.

Working hours

Working hours for in-house translators are usually 9am to 5pm. If you work as a freelance translator, your hours can be flexible but you'll need to organise them to make sure you can meet fixed deadlines.

Part-time work is possible and short-term temporary contracts are available. You may need to juggle several freelance projects at one time.

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What to expect

  • The majority of translators are self-employed. As a freelance translator you'd work from home and enjoy flexible hours, although work flow may be unpredictable.
  • In-house roles are usually office-based where you'll work independently. Working as part of a small team is possible in translation agencies or companies in large cities. Contact with clients is limited and mostly by email or phone.
  • More regular interaction with clients is usually helpful if you're a freelance or literary translator, particularly for seeking commissions for work.
  • There will be some periods of intense concentration and pressure as you near deadlines.
  • You will usually spend time visiting, living or working in relevant countries to keep up your command of the language and to develop your understanding of the culture.


You can become a translator with a degree in any subject, providing that you're fluent in two or more languages. However, certain degrees may increase your chances of securing work and these include:

  • translation studies with languages
  • modern European and/or non-European languages
  • business, law or science with languages.

Although you don't necessarily need a postgraduate qualification, a Masters in Translation or a professional qualification such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) Level 7 Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) can be useful as competition for jobs and freelance work is strong. A postgraduate qualification may be particularly useful if your first degree is in an unrelated subject. Research courses carefully to make sure they meet your career aims.

Search postgraduate courses in translation.

If you have no relevant qualifications but a proven record of excellent language skills, you may still be able to gain translation work. Whether you have official qualifications or not, it's useful to have knowledge of the area in which you may wish to translate, e.g. medical or business.


You need to have:

  • fluency in two or more languages (source and target)
  • a good understanding and in-depth knowledge of language/country-specific cultures (localisation)
  • excellent writing skills and command of grammar
  • subject matter knowledge specific to the content you'll be translating
  • attention to detail and accuracy
  • time management skills as you may be working with different clients at one time
  • the ability to work quickly to meet deadlines
  • the ability to use initiative in a commercial context
  • proficiency in the use of a range of computer packages - knowledge of translation-oriented applications and software is helpful, though not essential
  • self-motivation, particularly if working as a freelancer
  • enthusiasm for acquiring knowledge.

Work experience

Some translation agencies offer internships and work placements, which is a good way of getting experience and finding out whether you would enjoy the career.

Other useful experience includes language and translating projects from your undergraduate or postgraduate qualifications, examples of how you've used your other language(s) in practice, or any other work you've carried out in a foreign language.

It may be possible to undertake voluntary translation work for organisations such as Translators without Borders and UN Volunteers.

If you have a particular sector in which you'd like to translate, such as healthcare, community work, technical or law, it's useful to have some work experience that demonstrates your skills and knowledge of the area. Copywriting experience can also be also helpful.

Living or working in your source language country is very beneficial as it will improve your knowledge of the country’s culture.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.

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The majority of translators are self-employed. You may work as a freelancer or for translation companies and agencies.

Various government departments recruit translators and linguists. These include:

There are also some opportunities to work for international governments, institutions and organisations such as the United Nations.

You may also find work within the public sector, for example with the police.

Other opportunities arise with commercial and industrial companies that need business documents translating. These can include contracts, business proposals and marketing and advertising campaigns

Success depends on the languages you can offer, your qualifications and experience, and time spent overseas.

Digital subtitling (for DVDs and computer games) and website translation and localisation (i.e. adapting websites to local cultural contexts) are also growth areas. Audio-visual translation is expanding in response to disability legislation.

Look for job vacancies at:

Specialist translation and interpreting companies also have opportunities for translators. These include:

Companies that have accredited membership of trade associations such as the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) must undergo background checks and comply with a Code of Professional Conduct.

As a freelance translator, you can advertise your services on databases held by professional bodies and translator networks, such as:

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Professional development

The type and amount of support offered to staff at translation agencies varies. You may get the opportunity to specialise and become a legal, technical or literary translator. Occasionally, there are opportunities to train in more foreign languages. Training and development opportunities with large institutions and government bodies may be more structured.

Becoming a member of a professional body such as the CIOL or Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) can help your professional development as they offer a range of training and networking opportunities. Find out more at CIOL Training and ITI Learn and Develop.

You may decide to do further study at postgraduate level, such as The CIOL Level 7 Diploma in Translation (DipTrans). Although you don't need a degree to sit the exam, you must have a high level of competence in both the source and target languages, the ability to translate at professional level and good writing skills. Preparatory courses are offered by a number of providers. Find out more, including a list of course providers, at CIOL Qualifications.

You should also keep your written skills up to date by reading newspapers, journals and subject specific publications in both your source and target languages. You could also take courses in copywriting, grammar or technical writing, for example, to hone your skills.

Career prospects

Career development can be quite varied, depending on the sort of work/life balance you would like.

Developing a successful career as a freelance translator requires a proactive approach to networking. This means keeping in touch with key professional bodies, translator groups and potential employers, both nationally and internationally. You should also try to attend workshops and seminars to find out more about sources of work and work providers.

There are various factors that can affect your career prospects, such as how many commonly used modern languages you know, the number and type of clients you work for, the specialist area you work in, and the rates of pay you are able to command.

Developing AI technology and improving machine translation software means that there are some different opportunities available to translators who now edit and refine work that has been translated initially by a machine.

Increasing globalisation has meant there is more demand for transcreation and opportunities to combine your translation and copywriting skills to provide material appropriate for audiences in particular countries.

With several years' experience, it may be possible to set up your own translation agency. Some translators who do this also include interpreting services as part of their business, drawing on the services of translators and interpreters to meet client needs.

Some limited opportunities exist in academia for teaching translation skills and theory if you have completed a postgraduate degree.

(Video) Why you should not apply to freelance translation jobs online if you are a beginner


How do you write a translator profile? ›

What to include in your translator CV
  1. Contact details.
  2. Language combination.
  3. Field of specialisation.
  4. The services you provide besides translation. ...
  5. Education history and relevant qualifications.
  6. Relevant professional experience, with examples of projects you have worked on and, if possible, a list of clients.

How would you describe your skills as a translator? ›

Example skills of a translator
  • Language knowledge. The ability to speak and write fluently in at least two languages is the top skill of a translator. ...
  • Cultural knowledge. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Writing. ...
  • Research. ...
  • Computer-assisted translation (CAT) ...
  • Active listening. ...
  • Organization.
1 Mar 2021

Is there a high demand for translators? ›

Localization translators are in high demand as more and more brands have started turning their attention toward global audiences. With the demand for localization services skyrocketing in the wake of the global pandemic, salaries for this specialized translation service are set to increase even more.

What makes you the ideal candidate for translator position? ›

When interviewing translators a successful candidate will have excellent communication skills and have strong comprehension skills. Be wary of candidates who do not listen well and demonstrate poor communication skills. Completely free trial, no card required.

How do you introduce yourself as a translator? ›

Interpreter Introduction I am (your first name), Professional MCIS (your target language) Interpreter. I will interpret everything said and keep it all confidential. Please speak to each other in short sentences, I may interrupt for clarification. of conversation).

What languages are in high demand for translators in UK? ›

Read on to discover our round-up of the highest paid language jobs in UK.
  1. German. A quick scan of recruitment sites in the UK shows that German is the most in-demand foreign language in the UK. ...
  2. Arabic. ...
  3. French. ...
  4. Dutch. ...
  5. Spanish. ...
  6. Russian. ...
  7. Mandarin Chinese.
21 Dec 2021

What are the qualities of a good translator? ›

What Are the Qualities of a Good Translator?
  • Language Expertise. Translators must have an in-depth understanding of both the target and source language. ...
  • Appreciation and Respect for Other Cultures. ...
  • Attention to Details. ...
  • The Ability to Accept Criticism. ...
  • Excellent Time Management Skills. ...
  • Curiosity. ...
  • Integrity.
1 Dec 2021

How do I prepare for a translation interview? ›

Direct experience is better than anything else. Explain clearly how long you've been living in the part of the world where they speak the language you will translate to (or from). Try to be precise, describing how many months or years you spent there, and how you worked with the language on a daily basis.

What makes you the best candidate for this project? ›

Your personality is unique to you. If it can contribute to your success in the role, mention the specific traits and skills that are unique to you and will make you succeed. Sample answer 1: I am a highly motivated, result-oriented individual, willing to go an extra mile to reach goals and learn along the way.

What qualifications do you need to be a translator? ›

You'll usually need a degree or postgraduate qualification in translation. Relevant degrees include: languages - courses which specialise in linguistics or translation may give you an advantage but are not essential. combined degrees which include a subject like law or science with languages.

How do I become a successful translator? ›

Here are several steps you should take to become a professional translator:
  1. Become fluent in another language.
  2. Get specialized training.
  3. Become certified.
  4. Target a specific industry and learn the terminology.
  5. Gain work experience.

Which language is best for translator job? ›

10 Highest Paid Translation Languages in 2022
  1. German. Source. ...
  2. French. Source. ...
  3. Arabic. There are currently 300 million Arabic speakers in the world. ...
  4. Dutch. Talking about the highest paying languages to translate, Dutch deserves a special mention. ...
  5. Chinese. Source. ...
  6. Spanish. ...
  7. Italian. ...
  8. Russian.
27 Apr 2022

What type of translators are in demand? ›

However, there are plenty more traditional translation services that are always in demand. Check out the top seven here.
Check out the top seven here.
  • Technical Translation Services. ...
  • Legal Translation Services. ...
  • Financial Translation Services. ...
  • Medical and Life Sciences. ...
  • Literary Translation. ...
  • Business Translation Services.
25 Mar 2021

Are interpreters in high demand in UK? ›

The work UK Visas and Immigration, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement provides for interpreters is very much demand led and can vary considerably. There is no minimum or maximum requirement in terms of hours.

What is a translator job description? ›

As a translator, you'll convert written material from one or more 'source languages' into the 'target language', making sure that the translated version conveys the meaning of the original as clearly as possible. The target language is normally your mother tongue.

How do you write a cover letter for a translation job? ›

I am thrilled to be applying for the opportunity to become a Translator at Foundry Marketing and be of assistance to your company when communicating with international clients. I believe that with my somewhat peculiar background and collection of skills, I can be of great use to Foundry in this role.

How much are translators paid UK? ›

Average £14.82 per hour.

Which language pays most? ›

Of all the foreign lingos making headway in the industry, Chinese (Mandarin) is the highest-paid language. A person who speaks Chinese receives as much as an Rs. Million-plus yearly.

Is Netflix looking for translators? ›

Want to create subtitles for your favorite movie or TV show? Netflix might hire you to do just that.

What are the challenges of translation? ›

Common Challenges of Translation
  • Check Out Smartling's Complete Guide to Translation Services. Comments. ...
  • Translating Language Structure. ...
  • Translating Idioms and Expressions. ...
  • Translating Compound Words. ...
  • Missing Names In Translation. ...
  • Two-Word Verbs. ...
  • Multiple Meanings In Translation. ...
  • Translating Sarcasm.

What is translation quality? ›

Translation quality is the degree to which a translation meets predefined standards or requirements. Quality translation should convey the tone and message of the original text as faithfully as possible. It should also take into account the regional and cultural factors of the target audience.

What is an excellent translation? ›

An excellent translation must respect the meaning of the text as well as the author. I believe this to be the key principle of a translator. The spirit of the original text, its direction, wavelength must not be tainted through the translator's words.

What makes one translation better than another? ›

The quality of a translation depends to a great extent on the comprehension skills of the translator. A translator's reading behaviour and the ways in which they understand a text are central to the interpretation that is then put forward in the target language.

Does a translator need a degree? ›

Interpreters and translators typically need at least a bachelor's degree to enter the occupation. They also must be proficient in at least two languages (English and one other language), as well as in the interpretation or translation service they intend to provide.

What questions do they ask during interview? ›

50+ most common job interview questions
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • How did you hear about this position?
  • Why do you want to work at this company?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you bring to the company?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
2 Sept 2022

What do you like about translating? ›

it forces me to really (and I mean really) understand what I want to say, so I can communicate it to others. In doing that, I inevitably end up understanding myself better."

How does translation memory work? ›

A translation memory is a database that stores sentences, paragraphs or segments of text that have been translated before. Each entry, or segment, in the translation memory includes the original language, known as the "source" and its translation, known as the "target".

What is a translator job description? ›

As a translator, you'll convert written material from one or more 'source languages' into the 'target language', making sure that the translated version conveys the meaning of the original as clearly as possible. The target language is normally your mother tongue.

How do you write a resume objective for a translator? ›

Career Objective and Career Summary for Translation Professionals. Career Objective: To attain the higher level client and customer satisfaction with my sound knowledge and proficiency of English and French. Able to provide a perfect translation of the subjects and promote the services offered by the company.

How do you write a cover letter for a translation job? ›

I am thrilled to be applying for the opportunity to become a Translator at Foundry Marketing and be of assistance to your company when communicating with international clients. I believe that with my somewhat peculiar background and collection of skills, I can be of great use to Foundry in this role.

What are the qualities of a good translator? ›

What Are the Qualities of a Good Translator?
  • Language Expertise. Translators must have an in-depth understanding of both the target and source language. ...
  • Appreciation and Respect for Other Cultures. ...
  • Attention to Details. ...
  • The Ability to Accept Criticism. ...
  • Excellent Time Management Skills. ...
  • Curiosity. ...
  • Integrity.
1 Dec 2021

How much translators earn UK? ›

Average £14.82 per hour.

What qualifications do you need to be an interpreter UK? ›

Diploma in Public Services Interpreting (DPSI) (Law) or a letter of credit in all oral components (Law) TQUK Level 6 in Public Service Interpreting (RQF) CIOL Qualification Diploma in Police Interpreting (DPI) Level 6.

How do you write translation experience on a resume? ›

Highly skilled and experienced Translator with a strong background in translating legal documents in English, Spanish, German, French and Italian. Bringing forth an excellent command of these languages, and a track record of impeccable proofreading, editing and translating.

How do I write a freelance translator CV? ›

What recruiters want to see on a freelance translator resume
  1. Industry-specific expertise and knowledge of the terminology.
  2. Excellent client management skills, including communication and meeting deadlines.
  3. Proof that you have exceptional proficiency in 2+ languages.

What are career objectives examples? ›

General career objective examples

Seeking an entry-level position to begin my career in a high-level professional environment. To secure employment with a reputable company, where I can utilize my skills and business studies background to the maximum. Seeking a challenging career with an MNC.

What is the meaning of portfolio in Arabic? ›

حافِظة [ḥāfiẓa] {noun} portfolio (also: case, clipboard, wallet) حَقيبة [ḥaqība] {noun}

How do you say portfolio in Chinese? ›

  1. 作品集 [zuòpǐnjí] {noun} portfolio.
  2. 公事包 [gōngshìbāo] {noun} portfolio (also: briefcase)
  3. 投资组合 [tóu zī zǔ hé] {noun} portfolio.
  4. 文件夹 [wénjiànjiā] {noun} portfolio (also: file, files, folders, filed, folder, portfolios)
  5. 股份单 [ɡǔ fèn dān] {noun} portfolio.
  6. 部长职 [bù zhǎnɡ zhí] {noun} ...
  7. 部长职务 [bù zhǎnɡ zhí wù] {noun}

How do I write an application for a translator? ›

Dear Sir or Madam, I am writing to you today because I would like to offer you my services as a freelance translator. My name is XX, I am a qualified translator with a university degree in English and Spanish, my mother tongue is German and I have been working as a freelance translator for the past 7 years.

How do you write a translation proposal? ›

How to Write a Language Translation Proposal
  1. Think about your executive summary. ...
  2. Address the client and their need throughout your proposal. ...
  3. Reiterate your understanding of the client's requirement so that it is clear that your proposed solution will meet the original requirements.
26 Sept 2017


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