I have received thousands of resumes over the years from people applying for translation jobs from all over the world. Most of them tell me in their cover letters, how they have lived abroad and learned the language that they want to translate from or to. Although I am deeply grateful to all the people who think my company is suitable to meet their job seeking requirements, I must say: our translators are professionals who have studied translation and who dedicate their entire energy to doing this activity with rigor and ethics.
Document translation is not a gig
Translation of any type, whether it is interpreting simultaneously or consecutively, written translation, certified or technical translation is a highly demanding mental exercise. It requires special abilities, that may be developed through training. However, they are not readily available in every single bilingual person who decides to go into the business.
The ability to translate is very similar to the musical ability of reading a music sheet. Playing a guitar requires your right hand to produce a rhythm and your left hand to produce a melody. The product then, like a musical piece, is a well-written document that reflects in a language what was meant in another.
Translators and interpreters have the special talent of hearing the music before putting it into words. This skill is developed through thorough training and eventually, it becomes so fluent, that you can do it without even thinking about it. The translator’s brain is active in several languages at the same time, as the musician’s hands are independently working to produce the synergy of a song.
Just as not everybody is capable of playing guitar, no matter how much they love music, not all bilingual persons can translate documents or even simple conversations effectively to be called translators. To all of you bilingual persons looking for a job in translation, I recommend: try it out on your own first. Figure out if you can play the music and study translation and interpretation. Programs are available and most of them are very well established. Developing your skills is a very important step towards becoming the elite translator that you want to be.