Like all jobs, even a lottery winner, being a translator has advantages and disadvantages.
While many enjoy the flexibility of the career by either working remotely as a freelancer or translating for a company, being a translator equates to strict deadlines, sometimes late hours, and clients who return written content numerous times for revision, despite believing the copy was a hit.
However, as the world becomes more globalized, the need for translators is drastically increasing, allowing translators to move between companies or have more job options than ever.
If you’re interested in entering this field, it’s essential to understand the role’s pros and cons.
So keep reading to learn more!
Table of Contents
- Pros of Being a Translator
- Cons of Being a Translator
- Pros and Cons of Being a Translator – Summary Table
- Should You Become a Translator?
Pros of Being a Translator
Several of the most important advantages of becoming a translator include the following:
1. Always Learning
When becoming a translator, you constantly learn something new about the language, the culture, or your employer’s requirements.
Each language has its origin, history, and culture, so getting to know them is exciting and different.
In addition, by becoming a translator, you are learning facts about cultures that few possess, thus making you a more well-rounded and engaging individual.
2. Excellent Salary
When becoming a translator, you don’t need to worry about money since there is such a high demand for this skill set.
Companies pay top dollar to those who mediate between two parties with different languages and assist with communication.
Translators have broad experience in communicating with foreign clients that greatly help with projects, contracts, discussions, brainstorming, and many other business areas.
This could be in the form of written or verbal communication or both.
When goals are achieved, translators are given excellent perks, including financial.
3. Extensive Opportunities for Communication
The most important aspect of being a translator is comprehensive communication across various cultures.
In addition to knowing the basics of a language, you learn local words, phrases, and sayings, which is exciting and beneficial for personal and professional development.
This extra knowledge is due to extensive communication with different individuals from various regions of a country or individual countries.
For instance, Spanish is spoken in dozens of countries worldwide, each with other sayings, pronunciations, and language nuances.
By talking to different individuals from these areas, you are learning new ways to communicate.
4. Fast Promotions
Translation companies give employees promotions faster because they need to start or maintain corporate relationships.
Suppose the company is well-performing and requires effective communication with various cultures to boost relationships.
In that case, those companies ensure they hire the best translators. Being the best equates to faster promotions, higher salaries, and excellent benefits since there is a significant return on investment in maintaining strong business relationships.
5. Growing Demand
With more companies than ever collaborating with foreign investors and changing product copy requiring numerous language translations, the need for translators is critical to the business world.
This increases demand for the service, and the requirement for speaking multiple languages is at an all-time high.
The most talented translators get scooped up by companies immediately or are selected for freelance jobs quickly because of the overflow of available work.
6. Serving as a Liaison
One of the biggest benefits of becoming a translator is you are a liaison between two entities relating to two diverse cultures, backgrounds, and languages, yet must be connected for a specific purpose.
This could be for simple communication or commercial reasons.
For instance, a Spanish-speaking individual will struggle to communicate in Hindi since they need a common language with similar structure and grammar.
Translators are the required link between the two for better understanding and communication.
7. Varying Pay
Translators can earn insignificant amounts or large sums of money depending on the relevance of a negotiation or document.
Typically, junior-level translators will work on the smaller, less critical documents while they gain experience.
The higher level and more experienced translators will manage the larger, more urgent projects.
Documents like legal or medical papers tend to rake in a reasonable amount of money due to the terminology and detail required for translation.
Of course, being a freelancer allows you to charge whatever you want but working for a successful company almost guarantees consistent work.
Cons of Being a Translator
On the flip side, the drawbacks of this profession include the following:
1. Can Feel Isolated at Times
In some cases, especially for freelancers who work remotely, being a translator can sometimes feel isolating and lonely.
Unless you’re working in the office of a translation company, your job requires working alone with documents, conceptualizing the correct spelling and vocabulary of each sentence.
This can make even the most experienced and talented individuals feel disconnected from the world.
You may be the type who prefers alone time, but those who need more socialization should skip this position.
However, you could become a verbal translator for the government, where others would surround you, but these jobs are competitive and rare.
2. Emergency Cases Can Arise
In some situations where the company or client requires immediately written translation that is time sensitive, you may be required to increase your workload with documents that need to meet a tight deadline.
This can be a major stress point for those working in this field.
In addition, if there are issues with the translation, the translator could lose their job.
In these scenarios, the best translators use all their experience and knowledge to produce the best possible document in the shortest amount of time.
3. Highly Competitive Field
While the field is drastically growing, it is incredibly competitive because of its high salary and niche.
This results in a massive pool of students looking to enter this line of work and is therefore competitive.
The competition is so fierce that many institutions limit translation studies to the best and brightest.
Consequently, it’s challenging to enter the desired institute and find a post-graduation job.
The goal is to attend a top-notch language and translation school to hone your skills.
The reward for getting into such a great institution will be a high-paying job with an excellent company.
4. Irregular Work Conditions
Becoming a translator often comes with irregular work conditions, depending on the position.
Sometimes you may make paper planes and throw them across the room, and at others, you have multiple tight deadlines simultaneously, which requires around-the-clock work.
This depends on the deadline dates and the number and length of projects.
This position is generally less regular and routine than a typical nine-to-five role.
5. No Room for Creativity
Most corporate translations are technical and not meant for creative expression or interpretation.
Only a few translators get the opportunity to translate the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.
Most translate technical documents, user manuals, blueprints, negotiations, legal papers, or medical reviews.
Before venturing down this career path, it’s essential to understand that it’s not fun and glamorous, but you provide an excellent service that few can do.
6. Require Deep Knowledge of Several Languages
Working as a translator is a challenging career, as you must have precise details surrounding at least two languages.
Also, you must know which words and phrases translate accordingly related to the tense, topic, and usage context.
Furthermore, in many corporate documents, specific translations are offensive to different cultures and must be avoided.
This can be so dire that it recalls products in that market resulting in millions of dollars of lost sales.
You can even lose your job over such mistakes depending on the severity.
7. Short Deadlines
Like in many project management positions, deadlines are shorter than everyone would like them to be to complete the work.
At the beginning of your career as a translator, you can expect shorter projects with more compressed timelines.
This is how companies and agencies train new employees, so you have a much faster response time to do the work.
As you progress through your career, deadlines become longer, but you still may get urgent requests.
You can charge more for shorter deadlines if you’re a freelancer.
This will be part of your regular workload when working in the corporate world, with longer-term projects but short-term deadlines dropping in.
Pros and Cons of Being a Translator – Summary Table
|Pros of Being a Translator||Cons of Being a Translator|
|1. Always Learning||1. Can Feel Isolated at Times|
|2. Excellent Salary||2. Emergency Cases Can Arise|
|3. Extensive Opportunities for Communication||3. Highly Competitive Field|
|4. Fast Promotions||4. Irregular Work Conditions|
|5. Growing Demand||5. No Room for Creativity|
|6. Serving as a Liaison||6. Require Deep Knowledge of Several Languages|
|7. Varying Pay||7. Short Deadlines|
Should You Become a Translator?
Although they may begin their careers with translation, few continue for a long.
The translator burnout rate is high, so only the deeply committed and enthusiastic can persist and continue working through the sometimes long hours.
However, years of experience and work have crafted them into becoming and through translators, with no thoughts of other careers.
When you reach this point in your career, you choose the workload and rates you want, with higher pay and better benefits when starting as a junior translator.
If you have the drive and passion for utilizing your unique language skill, becoming a translator may be an outstanding career choice.
However, you must be incredibly meticulous, know all the nuances of the language and culture, and be ready to commit long hours, weekends, and sometimes holidays to complete different projects as a freelancer or while working for a company if you’re prepared to take on the challenge, then happy translating!