Words from the Wardrobe

Where are those Translation students now?

What do translation and interpreting students end up doing?

Careers for translators who don’t want to go freelance or work for agencies

Like every 30 September, translators and interpreters the world over celebrated International Translation Day yestserday, an event first recognised by the International Federation of Translators in 1953.

Last year, I showed you some examples of how translation forms part of our lives. This year, I want to talk about careers for translators and interpreters.

Common career paths

At 18, not many of us really know what we want to study and end up taking a degree just because it’s the done thing or start studying something full of high hopes to later realise after passing some exams that it wasn’t all we made it out to be.

That’s why many translation students end up teaching, like my classmates Charo and Marga, or working in research, like Barto.

Not what you expected? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of job opportunities for translators and interpreters outside the classroom!

Other careers for translators and interpreters

Many translators start working in translation agencies, which are often behind the large companies that need these services to sell their products in other countries. However, when you speak to someone who doesn’t know much about the sector in Spain and tell them you’re a translator or interpreter, they usually think the following:

Literary translator: you translate books

Conference interpreter: think Nicole Kidman’s film…

Sworn translator/interpreter

Thanks to Netflix, more people are aware that audiovisual translators exist too, but there are loads more job opportunities for us.

We can work in many departments within multinational companies:

Legal: if a company has offices in other countries, this department will have a lot of work on every time there is a need to negotiate with agents, distributors, contract employees in the target countries or contract foreign employees to work in the head office country. In some cases, they will need sworn translations, so having someone who can manage the sworn/legal translation department could be really useful.

Marketing: companies that have to adapt their products to different languages and cultures, also have to do the same with all their online and offline collateral and campaigns. Sometimes they may hire agencies to do this, but some have a specialist for each country, who manages all the work with external collaborators.

Product design: there are companies that have their own translation departments that work in collaboration with technical writers to develop instruction manuals and other documents that accompany their products.

Human Resources: translators and interpreters act as a cultural mediator in this department and their role is becoming increasingly important to prevent conflicts and improve employee loyalty.

This would be in an ideal world, but it can sometimes be difficult to gain access to large companies. Luckily, thanks to outsourcing, we have even more possibilities:

Law firms

Marketing and advertising agencies

Software development companies

There is something really positive about working in these companies, in my opinion at least: you work with different clients, different products, different texts, and besides it being an enriching experience, it can also make you more creative. Well, it may be harder for legal translators to be more creative, but who knows!

In the health sector (private health more than public health), the role of the translator/interpreter is increasingly important as a link between the patient and doctor.

Without straying far from the linguistic path, some translators opt for a job in proofreading and work for publishers or newspapers.

Now are you reassured that you will be able to use your degree for something other than teaching, working in an agency or being freelance?

Real-life cases

To finish off this post, I am going to tell you about some of my classmates, with whom I shared many funny moments, coffees and class notes.

Mireia Bartolomé-Sanz: after working in two translation agencies and also trying out freelancing, she currently works in a software development company in Holland as a Spanish/Catalan translator, proofreader and terminologist.

Patricia Paladini: she specialised in software localisation and has been working as a Globalisation Manager for more than 10 years in an important software development multinational.

Jordi Conde: even though, thanks to my class notes, he passed Translation Theory, he ended up working in publishing and currently works as a print and e-book editor, translator and voice over artist for schoolbooks.

See you for the next post!


Alicia González, Spanish translator

Alicia González López

Hi! My name is Alicia, and I am a translator. My expert fields are website and software localization, e-commerce and marketing. After 15 years working for other companies, I decided to open my own translation firm, Prêt-à-translate in 2016. A dress may not suit two different people; same happens with translation. Long live context!
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