In such diverse locations like the San Francisco Bay Area, businesses and academic institutions of all types have a need for qualified translators to help bridge the gap in communication that sometimes occurs between companies and their clients. From business meetings with international clients to converting paperwork and documentation into different languages, this particular job position requires a lot of skill and mastery of more than one dialect.
Becoming a translator means more than just knowing how to speak a foreign language. Professional translators are also proficient at reading and writing their specialty language, as well as effectively communicating with others verbally. In fact, the very definition of what a translator does (and how it differs from an interpretor), deals with being able to translate written materials from one language to another. This involves the need for great analytical skills, accuracy and attention to detail. In careers such as legal translation services, these skills are extremely vital to the nature of the work performed.
When it comes to the legal system and paperwork, it is essential that translators working in this field have the ability to properly convert materials and documents like contracts, depositions, letters and testimonial statements accurately. Failure to do so could have dire consequences for the parties involved, whether it is a court case, civil matter or other type of legal dispute.
So how does one go about pursuing this career? The first step in the process is to choose the language or languages that you want to specialize in. The most desirable candidates are fluent in at least two languages. It also helps to choose languages that are high in demand for translators. For example, in California, Spanish follows closely behind English as one of the most commonly spoken languages. This is followed by Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Korean. Other dialects (German, Japanese, French, etc.) fall into the smallest percentage. For an individual living in the Bay Area, becoming fluent in Spanish and/or Chinese will easily lead to a number of job openings in translation services.
In the Bay Area, San Francisco State University is one of the many schools that is recognized and approved by the American Translators Association. Receiving training as a translator through this school is a great way to begin learning the ins and outs of what this type of a career choice entails. Certificate programs are also available both online and offline, as well as schools that solely specialize in training future translators.
Individuals that prefer to be their own boss will be pleased to know that it is possible to become self employed in this field. However, the main challenge for pursuing this route is that in order to stay in business, a person has to maintain a steady stream of clients. The good news is that because of the need for highly skilled translators, employment in this field is expected to increase. For those that would like job security, finding a position with a translation company will vary upon the language(s) of specialty.