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In an interconnected and globalized economy that we live in today, it’s becoming a trend for entities of all kinds to expect potential hires to have some proficiency in a second language. Thus, listing a proficiency in a second language on your resume is a big advantage when you’re out looking for work.

Employers also understand that a bilingual/multilingual person, not only has the language skills that they need but also has an evolved set of soft skills fruitful for the workplace. Look forward to learning more about how a second language can drastically improve your career horizons.

Working in the Language Industry Providing Translation Services or Interpretation Services

One of the most common career routes for individuals with advanced language skills is in the language industry as a translator and/or interpreter. You can either list yourself as a freelance translator/interpreter in major freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr, Guru, etc.

Related Article: Huge Growth Highlights the Importance of the Translation and Interpretation Industry

You can also register in professional translation agencies. Professional translation agencies typically offer more services than their term suggests so rest assured, they also accommodate interpreters.

1. Career as a Professional Translator

Professional translators are more than just bilingual/multilingual people. They handle translation work ranging from simple technical text to complex creative works that need years of relevant expertise than just language skills.

If you want to be a professional translator, then first establish which language pair do you want to specialize in, such as English to Spanish translation and vice versa.

You are also expected to bring not general, but advanced language skills in your specialized language pair. You are also expected to have sufficient knowledge in culture, context, and other relevant backgrounds that are crucial to quality translation work.

As many professional translators proceed further in their careers, some opt to hone their translation skills by specializing. Since almost every industry out there employs language services to varying degrees, it’s natural for translators to specialize in niche translation work relative to the industry they want to predominantly cater to. More of this will be expanded further down below.

2. Career as a Professional Interpreter 

Being a professional interpreter requires a different skill compared to a professional translator. Indeed, they are both language translators, but a professional interpreter must be able to not only deliver stellar live translation but must be able to perform it under any circumstances. They also have to take into account both parties’ cultural and social backgrounds to minimize miscommunication.

As you can expect, professional interpreters also specialize in niche interpretation services for select industries. For example, you can concentrate on the business interpretation that also demands you to have a firm grasp of financial and legal terminology and even cultural awareness. In high stakes negotiations and meetings, the smallest misunderstanding can affect everything.

Whether in an office setting or working as a freelancer, translators and interpreters today have more options to suit their personal career needs. If you’re interested to know how to transition smoothly from your regular day job to a freelance career.

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Why Work With a Translation Agency?

Many clients prefer to coordinate with translation agencies rather than to directly communicate with freelancers. One of the main reasons for working with a translation agency is that you are free from the hassle of looking for clients one-by-one. Additionally, you get to form a lifelong professional relationship with your translation agency.

More often than not, translation work is an individual activity. But coordinating with familiar people and building your reputation with them is one of the main reasons why translators, interpreters, and language specialists of all kinds opt to work with a translation agency.

Translation agencies receive requests from all kinds of different industries. Depending on your background, they can assign you to translation/interpretation work that suits your skills and the client’s needs.

Once you improve your language and translation/interpretation skills, they can then assign you with more niche language services. If you specialize even further than be naturally prepared for specialized work such as legal translation/interpretation, medical translation/interpretation, financial translation/interpretation, and many more along the way.

Specializing in in-Demand Languages

The ability to speak a second language alone won’t get you immediate access to lucrative career options just like that. Truth be told, the global economy does prioritize certain languages over others. Simply put, just being able to speak an obscure regional language isn’t enough. That’s an unfortunate reality, but one that cannot be ignored.

With that in mind, your second language must neatly fall into the list of the most in-demand languages. Investopedia lists several languages that will help broaden your career, namely:

  • Spanish.
  • French.
  • Chinese (Mandarin).
  • German.
  • Arabic.
  • American Sign Language.
  • Russian.
  • German.
  • Portuguese.

Out of these options, Chinese is a noteworthy choice since it is the most spoken language in the world. The global industries are committed to reaching out not only to the mainland Chinese market, but also to their domestic markets that have a sizeable population of Chinese ex-pats and Mandarin speakers.

So it’s fair to say that specializing in the Chinese language pair such as English to Chinese and Chinese to English whether as a Chinese translator or a Chinese interpreter would mean a lucrative and quite a busy career for you.

However, that is not to say that specializing in other global languages such as Japanese, Korean, Hindi, or Italian is an unworthy choice. Rather, this list was organized relative to the country and region’s economic strength. There is still a strong global demand for those languages due to their economic influence and cultural reach.

Apply Your Language Skills for a Plethora of Companies and Institutions

As said earlier, the globalized economy that we are living in today means that there is an ever-increasing demand for language services all over the world. Here’s a convenient list of common career destinations for language specialists.

1. Multinational Corporations and International Companies

Global industries from banking, construction, aviation, healthcare, international retail, automotive, to even the tech, IT, and the gaming industry need all kinds of language services available to stay competitive and internationally relevant.

Essential translation services for businesses of all sizes, to name a few include technical translation, document translation, marketing translation, and financial translation. Also crucial for contemporary content marketing strategies for businesses include content translation, website translation, video translation, audio translation, and even mobile app translation.

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Photo Credit – Pexels.com

2. Government and Public Institutions

National governments are big spenders in the language service industry. Check out this article to know how much the U.S. Government spends in translation services. International dealings are one of the mainstays in national government agendas, but depending on the country, they also have to render public services to multilingual populations.

Although they do have in-house language specialists, the volume of translation and interpretation work needed means they have to continually rely on translation agencies and other related language service providers. They mostly prioritize legal translation, technical translation, and document translation for legal affairs, immigration, healthcare, military, diplomacy, international commerce, etc.

3. Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises

Language services are not only for global industries. Even small to medium-sized enterprises rely on translation and interpretation for domestic markets that have multilingual speakers. When they decide to go global, the more they will need to rely on language services to even have a remote chance of competing and even surviving in the international business arena.  

4. Academic Institutions

You can go for the traditional route in being a language instructor, college professor, perhaps get an advanced postgraduate degree in translation and interpretation. Universities are typically where many language specialists begin their specialization in creative, literary, and essentially academic-oriented language services work.  

Expand Your Overseas Networking Opportunities

Since language is a form of communication, even speaking just one language gives you access to millions of speakers wherever they are in the world. Thus, it is no surprise that advanced language skills in even just one more language apart from your mother tongue will broaden your networking opportunities.

Whether as a wandering traveller, a global entrepreneur or as a representative for your employer, language skills will bring you to places far and wide. It will allow you to meet new people and establish more amicable international relations and friendships that otherwise would not be possible if you chose to remain monolingual.

Exponentially Enhance Your Soft Skills

Employers, particularly value employees that bring a good set of soft skills to the workplace. Although it’s relatively easier to hire people with the desired hard skills such as the required vocational or academic background, etc., soft skills are another matter.

1. Cultural Empathy

As you’re probably aware by now, the language-learning process is a process that happens most productively outside of the classroom. Learning a language involves exposing yourself to foreign cultures and backgrounds. You will begin to appreciate that everyone is uniquely different and you will learn to value almost everything new to your eyes the more you immerse yourself in the language.

Additional Resource: How To Learn A Language Whilst Travelling The World?

2. Become a Productive Multitasker

Learning a language means your brain as to juggle many different things at the same time to create coherent sentences. Although this is unnoticeable when you use your mother tongue, this becomes very apparent when you’re still starting. Over time, your brain will then get used to cognitive multitasking, which then improves your overall multitasking skills.

3. Enhance Your Teamwork Skills

Being culturally empathic and appreciating the differences between cultures and societies will make you a better team player. You’ll have more awareness in dealing with people who come from all walks of life and even makes you better in managing conflicts between co-workers—yourself included.

4. Become Smarter and More Creative

There are many compelling studies, such as this one that proves the argument that being bilingual helps augment brain efficiency, creativity, concentration, and overall intelligence.  

Being a more efficient multitasker spills over to your brain development as you grow older.

Using Your Second Language as a Passport: Conclusion

To sum everything up, your language skills are your passport to a whole new horizon of lucrative career options, accessible only to people with advanced language skills. Always remember that the real key in being a language specialist is to continue to hone your skills in your specialization, be it your language pair, industry, and desired translation/interpretation work.

Learning a language is a never-ending process as languages change every day. Cultures and societies continue to enrich and diversify the lexicon of their language. Never be afraid to adapt to whatever changes and disruptions that are out there.

Having this self-improvement mindset will keep your language skills at their prime as you grow older and expand your career.



Written By
Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language service provider with more than 12 years of experience in rendering industry-leading translation and interpretation services in more than 100 languages to diverse clients and industries.

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