Translators and interpreters are now in very high demand, as global industry, commerce and the internet would destroy the old national barriers between peoples. Translators are required in just about every area of human activity, and having a second language is now a major asset in career and social terms.
Translators are required to have a specific level of competence in a language before they can actually work in this area. In the European Union, competence is actually certified at specific levels. Elsewhere, certification of competence varies, but is clearly defined for employment purposes. Requirements for technical translators may include formal academic qualifications.
It is important to understand that working as a translator means a lot more than simply translating information from one language to another.
Translators must also understand the information that they're handling and put it into the correct context, making information understood in the sense that it is meant. It is also important to note that in many cases the translator is the only link between a person who can't speak the local language and the assistance that person needs. Translator jobs can be very responsible jobs.
Most translator work is done within organizations. Interpreter services and translation services for industry and academic institutions may be conducted by firms or by individuals.
Within organisations, translators usually work within the organisational hierarchy, sometimes in a specialist translation department. Skill levels are the main issues in terms of career progression, and skill levels are assessed on the basis of degrees of difficulty of work. It is also quite common for translators to obtain additional skills in client relationships, case management and other skills devolving from their area of employment.
For example, a translator working for a government welfare or health department in a multicultural society will typically pick up a range of skills related to this area of employment. These skills also help define career progression and career opportunities.
In some cases the translation career progression is quite simple, from employee to supervisor to manager. In other cases, translators may specialize, particularly in the academic and scientific fields where specialized knowledge is required. Legal translators may develop their skills in a court environment, where a wide range of knowledge regarding legal procedures in court procedures and the requirements of court evidence is required. Media translators may also often have to edit and redefine translation materials for things like documentaries, etc, in which time and space for information must be managed.
If you have academic skills, a second language and strong literacy in two or more languages, a career as a translator can be truly fascinating.