Skills You Need To Excel In The Document Translation Industry

December 20th, 2013 | by JRO
Skills You Need To Excel In The Document Translation Industry

The Internet has given individuals the ability to increase their exposure to clients and customers worldwide, meaning the need for professional document translation continues to increase. Translation could be needed for documents like service contracts, employment contracts, training materials, and human resource materials. While there are many websites and software translation services available, nothing compares to actual human translation. If you are fluent in more than one language and are considering a career in document translation, you must ensure that you possess the skills and traits below.

Fluency in the Language and Knowledge of the Region

Being able to speak a language well enough to travel in that country is drastically different from being able to translate professional documents. In order to properly translate documents you need to understand the small differences between one adjective or adverb from another, and how to translate words that do not exist in one language. While professional documents may not often have idioms included in them, idioms may be used in documents that are created to communicate company culture or branding initiatives. As a translator, you must be able to fully understand each idiom and translate it into a comparable idiom, phrase, or quote. Even though you may be fluent in your specified languages, there may be drastic differences in the dialects of each language, so you need to ensure you clearly understand specific regions and dialects of the language so you will be able to effectively translate.

Extreme Attention to Detail

When translating documents, extreme attention to detail is a must. This is to ensure that all portions of your document are fully translated, and the each section is properly edited. This is particularly important with contracts and documents that discuss financial commitments and obligations. For example, inappropriately translating .5 percent for 5 percent can significantly affect a businesses transaction.

Industry Insight

Even if you have not worked directly in the industry you will be translating for, it is imperative that you understand the general terminology of the industry. Most every business will use terms such as profit and loss, evaluations, and ROI, but some industries have specific terminology that must be fully understood before it can be accurately translated into the secondary document. For example, if you are translating a contract for an IT company, but you do not fully understand the difference between software application and software development, you may not be able to effectively translate a document into another language. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful career as a document translator, it just means you need to know your strengths and your limits.

Effective Communication

A document translator’s job is to accurately translate documents from one language to another. However, there will be times that questions will arise that will require you to clearly explain areas of opportunity in a document. Since the company you are translating for is likely not fluent in the language you are translating for them, they will rely on you to explain any aspects of the documents that may be culturally insensitive or do not translate well.

If you possess the skills and traits above along with strong written communication skills, you may excel in the document translation industry.

Terry Vanderbilt writes on business, education, professional certifications, on-the-job training and other related topics. To learn more about the industry from an established company in this niche visit

Image credit goes to translationscribers.