All You Need To Know About A Translator Career
You think about becoming a translator but are not entirely sure whether this would be the right career for you or not?
Great! Stick with me since I will show you everything you need to know about working as a translator in the following chapters.
Not only will we talk about salaries, but you will also learn a lot about job satisfaction, working hours, educational requirements, duties, responsibilities and job security.
I also provide you with an FAQ section at the end of this article where I answer the most common questions about being a translator for you.
After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of what working as a translator really looks like and whether you still want to become a translator or rather want to go for a different career instead.
Table of Contents
What does a Translator do?
Translators improve communication between parties by translating all sorts of documents into different languages.
This includes translating basic paperwork like letters but also includes translating scientific studies and results.
Translators not only facilitate information flows inside companies, but they also help out private persons with paperwork for government agencies or passport issues.
Thus, translators can do a great job for people who are new in a foreign country and need help with basic things of daily life.
Responsibilities & Duties of a Translator
- Facilitating communication between people
- Translating various different documents into different languages
- Improving information flows inside companies
- Supporting private persons to do their paperwork
- Translating scientific studies and results
- Facilitating communication of scientists from all over the world
- Real-time translation for TV or other media channels
- Translating written content
- Translating video and audio content
- Making sure to preserve the actual meaning of documents
- Translating texts for advertising campaigns
- Translating legal content
What a Typical Day of a Translator looks like?
Translators usually get to work between 7 and 9 a.m.
The first thing they do is checking their emails and answering the most important and urgent ones.
After structuring their workday and doing some organizational work, translators translate many different documents per day.
Not only will they do the actual translatory work, but they will also communicate their results to clients and stakeholders to make sure that they deliver the high quality their clients expect.
Thus, not only should you have excellent knowledge of various important foreign languages, but you should also be good at communicating with people in general to provide enough value to your clients to stay in the game in the long run.
After working in this style for many hours, most translators finish their workdays between 4 and 6 p.m.
Translator Salary 2023
Translator salary brackets 2023
|Salary Brackets||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Top 10 %||> $82,000||> $40.93|
|Top 25 %||$61,000 – $68,000||$30.47 – $33.89|
|Bottom 25 %||$38,000 – $43,000||$18.88 – $21.46|
|Bottom 10 %||$29,000 – $34,000||$14.44 – $16.97|
|Range||$29,000 – $88,000||$14.44 – $43.98|
Translator salary 2023 by expert level
|Level of Experience||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Entry level||$29,000 – $38,000||$14.44 – $18.88|
|Junior||$35,000 – $49,000||$17.42 – $24.49|
|Professional||$47,000 – $54,000||$23.38 – $26.95|
|Senior Professional||$52,000 – $67,000||$25.93 – $33.46|
|Expert||$64,000 – $75,000||$31.94 – $37.48|
|Top Expert||$73,000 – $88,000||$36.47 – $43.98|
Translator salary by state 2023 (average)
|State||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|District of Columbia||$53,200||$26.59|
Job Security of Translators
Translators have pretty poor job security.
Since educational barriers to entry are pretty low, almost everyone can work in this field and this means that you will have to deal with lots of competition.
Consequently, you will always have to worry about losing your job as a translator.
Future Outlook of Translators
Not only current job prospects are pretty poor, but also the future outlook for translators is grim since due to artificial intelligence, many translators will be replaced by intelligent computer programs in the near future and many of them may become unemployed in the long run.
Working Hours of Translators
Translators usually start their workday between 7 and 9 a.m. and finish their workday between 4 and 6 p.m.
Thus, translators don’t have to work long hours and have more than enough time to meet up with their favorite people after work.
Job Satisfaction of Translators
Most translators are not really happy with what they are doing for a living since they are not able to make good money while they always have to fear losing their jobs and this can really stress your nerves in the long run.
Promotion Opportunities of Translators
There are pretty limited promotion opportunities for translators.
In fact, you will do the same things over and over again for many years or even decades without getting the chance of being promoted anytime soon.
Career Levels of Translators
- Translator intern
- Junior translator
- Senior translator
- Manager of a translation company
- Owner of a translation company
Fields and Types of Translators
- Translators focused on doing translations for private persons
- Translators specialized in translation work for companies
- Translators focused on translating things for public institutions
- Translators focused on improving communication flows online
- Translators with expertise in the education industry
- Translators doing basic translations for legal matters
- Translators focused on translating written content
- Translators specialized in video content
- Translators with expertise in translating audio content
Educational Requirements for Translators
There are no fancy educational requirements for becoming a translator.
Instead, you can start your translator career right after finishing high school and start making money at a rather young age while many of your friends will have to spend many years and lots of money on college education for getting their dream jobs.
How to become a Translator
- Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a translator
- Apply for an internship in the translation industry
- Make a good impression during your internship
- Stay in touch with your colleagues
- Get your high school diploma with decent grades
- Apply for jobs as a translator
- Master the job interview
- Sign your labor contract
- Build a strong personal brand and customer base
- Start your own translation business
Character Traits you need as a Translator
- Patience helps you deal with difficult clients
- You should have a compromising attitude to deal with negative comments
- You should be a good listener
- You should be open to critical feedback
- Persistence helps you stay in the translation business in the long run
- You should be friendly and reliable
- You should be client-focused
- Attention to detail helps you deliver the best possible translation work
- You should be willing to always learn and improve your skills
Hard Skills for Translators
- Excellent knowledge of the most important foreign languages
- Excellent knowledge of spelling and grammar
- Knowledge of how to deal with exotic accents
- Ability to translate written but also audio and video content
- Good knowledge of translation tools helps you get your work done faster
- Digital skills help you grow your translation business
- Marketing skills help as well
- You should be good at learning new concepts quickly
- Good understanding of latest developments in the translation industry
- Cultural knowledge helps as well
- Research skills
- Special services to stand out from the crowd
Soft Skills for Translators
- You should listen to the needs and preferences of your clients
- Ability to deal with critical feedback in a proper manner
- Good communication skills help you stay in touch with your clients
- Time management skills help you get things done
- Attention to detail helps you avoid annoying mistakes
- Ability to build strong relationships with your clients
- Patience helps you during difficult times of your career
- Empathy for clients who have a bad day
- You have to be reliable and client-focused
Exit Options for Translators
Translators have pretty poor exit options.
While they can often work as tour guides or in other jobs in the tourist industry, translators often have a hard time finding jobs in a different field since they often lack many important hard skills to do so.
Translator – Similar Careers
- Tour guide
- Digital marketer
- Social media analyst
- Event coordinator
Translator Career FAQs
Is working as a translator physically demanding?
Working as an interpreter is not physically demanding since you will work in a classical office environment and will not have to work in a hard physical manner while welders and carpenters often have to lift heavy stuff and work with their hands all day long.
Is working as a translator mentally demanding?
While you will have to use your brain to deliver great translation work to your clients, you will still not have to stress your brain as much as physicists or professors who often have to work on complex problems all day long and really come home from work tired and exhausted while you as a translator will have a rather relaxed time in this regard.
Is it dangerous to work as a translator?
Working as a translator is not dangerous at all.
While police officers have to risk their lives on a daily basis, you as a translator will work in a pretty safe office job and will not be at great risk of suffering from serious accidents or incidents at work.
How long do translators stay in their jobs?
Translators often work in this field for quite a long time since they are pretty specialized and don’t learn many things apart from translating various sorts of documents.
Consequently, translators often get trapped in this industry without having the chance of getting out of it anytime soon.
Is it easy for translators to find a new job?
Due to the invention of AI translation tools, many translators will become obsolete in the near future and you will therefore also have a pretty hard time finding a job as a translator in the near future.
Moreover, many jobs are also outsourced to low-wage countries and if you live in a rich developed country, you will have to compete with people from all over the world and your salary may not be enough to cover your expenses, which may put you out of business sooner or later.
Is it hard to switch from being a translator to another field of work?
It is pretty hard for translators to find a job in a different industry.
While they may be able to find work in the tourist sector, they often have a hard time finding a job in the corporate world since they often don’t learn many skills needed in various parts of the job market right now.
Do translators have a high social status?
Translators have a pretty low social standing.
In fact, many people out there will not understand your career choice and if you really want to be admired by the general public, you should not become a translator but rather go for a dentist or judge career instead.
Can you help out your family and friends as a translator?
While you can translate many documents for your loved ones in case they need support in this regard, you will still not be able to provide as much value as roofers or plumbers who can install and fix many things around the home.
Can translators work remotely?
Translators are often able to work remotely since they will do most of their work with a computer and there will be no need to show up at work in person.
Consequently, you can save lots of time and money on commuting issues and will also be more flexible to manage your private and professional life at the same time.
Is it easy to find a partner as a translator?
Since translators don’t make good money while they also have a rather low social standing and have to worry about losing their jobs in the near future, translators are not considered good providers and often have a hard time in the dating market when it comes to finding a partner for a long-term relationship.
Do translators have to work on weekends?
Translators don’t have to work on weekends.
However, some translators still work Saturdays or even Sundays to make some money on the side so that they are able to pay their bills or to afford some nice things they want to have.
Do translators have to work on holidays?
Translators don’t have to work on holidays. Instead, you can use those days to spend with your loved ones or on your favorite hobbies.
Do translators have to work at nighttime?
Translators don’t have to work at nighttime.
Instead, they work in a classical 9 to 5 environment and while bartenders or locomotive drivers often have to work exotic hours, you as a translator will have enough time to spend with your family after work.
Do you have to travel as a translator?
There is no need to travel as a translator.
While consultants and many other people will be away for business trips quite often, you as a translator will be able to spend your leisure at home with your loved ones.
Are translator pensions good?
Since most translators are not able to make really good money from what they are doing, they are also not able to save and invest enough during their active careers and their pensions will be relatively low.
Consequently, many translators are no longer able to pay their bills and get into serious financial trouble once they quit their careers and retire.
Are translator salaries going up?
Translator salaries have not been going up significantly over the past years and this trend will likely continue in the future since many jobs in the translation business will be lost to intelligent machines in the near future and with decreasing demand for human translators, also wages in this field will likely drop sooner or later.
Can you have a positive impact on society as a translator?
Since you will not produce your own content but rather work with already produced content, your social impact as a translator will be pretty limited since you will not be able to share your own messages with the world but rather help to distribute the work of your clients.
How long does it take to become a translator?
Since you don’t need to get a fancy degree, you can become a translator right after finishing high school and don’t have to spend many years on college education.
Is it difficult to become a translator?
It is pretty easy to become a translator since educational barriers to entry are pretty low.
However, you should still have excellent knowledge of foreign languages so that you can provide enough value to your clients to stay in the game in the long run.
Do you need to be smart to work as a translator?
You don’t need to be a genius for succeeding as a translator.
However, you should still have enough mental capabilities to learn foreign languages and to apply your knowledge in a way that provides value to your clients.
Do translators have a good work-life balance?
Since translators don’t have to work on weekends and holidays and are also pretty flexible regarding when they want to do their work, interpreters have pretty decent work-life balance and enough time to spend on their hobbies or with their loved ones.
Do translators have to work many extra hours?
Translators don’t have to work much overtime.
Instead, they have a rather standard workweek and will finish their workdays relatively early most of the time.
How to maximize your chances of becoming a translator?
The more time you spend studying foreign languages, the easier it will be to get a job as a translator since the better you are at translating, the more value you will be able to provide to your clients and the better your standing in the translation industry will be.
Can translators work part-time?
While translators are able to work part-time, most of them still work full-time since hourly wages for translators are relatively low and many translators would not be able to make a living from a part-time job.
Do translators work indoors or outdoors?
Translators work indoors all day long and therefore don’t have to worry about adverse weather conditions outdoors as garbage collectors and facility managers have to do on a regular basis.
What does the workplace of a translator look like?
Translators work in classical office jobs and you will therefore do most of your work with a computer.
You will also spend lots of time alone and if you are an outgoing person who loves to talk to others, you may rather want to work as a salesperson instead of becoming an interpreter.
Do you have to look good for working as a translator?
Your looks don’t matter for your success as a translator.
What’s much more important is that you have excellent knowledge of foreign languages and that you are also client-focused to provide enough value so that you can stay in the game in the long run.
Is a translator career beneficial for your private life?
While you will have enough time to spend with your family, you will still not be able to make good money and will also always have to worry about losing your job as a translator.
Consequently, working as a translator may not be greatly beneficial for your private life when taking major relevant factors into account.
Do you need a college degree for becoming a translator?
You don’t need a college degree for becoming a translator.
Instead, educational requirements are pretty low and almost everyone can start working as a translator without having to spend lots of time and money on education.
Do you need to be certified to work as a translator?
You don’t need to be certified for working as a translator.
However, those certifications might still help you gain more credibility and to improve your chances to succeed as a translator in the long run.
How much does it cost to become a translator?
Since you don’t have to get a college degree, you can become a translator at almost no cost and can even start making money right after finishing high school at a rather young age.
Is being a translator a good career?
Since you will not be able to make good money and you may lose your job to intelligent machines sooner or later, being a translator is not considered a good career by the majority of the general public and many of your loved ones may not understand your career choice.
Is it easy to start your own business as a translator?
It is pretty easy to work self-employed as a translator since you don’t have to spend lots of money upfront and also regulatory requirements are pretty low.
Can translators teach themselves?
Translators can teach themselves all they need to start working in this field.
In fact, all the information is free on the internet and you just need to invest enough time to get really good at translation work.
Do translators make good money?
Translators are not able to make good money.
While some translators are able to make a decent living from what they are doing, many translators complain about poor salaries and some of them are barely able to pay their bills.
Is it ever too late to become a translator?
It is never too late to become a translator since educational barriers to entry are pretty low and you don’t have to spend many years on education as long as you are good at learning foreign languages.
Moreover, since you don’t have to work in a hard physical manner, you can work as a translator at almost every age.
Do translators have to quit their careers early?
Since translators don’t have to work in a physically exhausting manner, most of them don’t have to quit their careers early since their risk of suffering from serious physical health problems will be rather low and most translators are able to work in this field until they reach official retirement age.
What is the hardest thing about working as a translator?
The hardest part about being a translator is that you have to work with many different clients who all have different preferences and expectations and it is therefore almost impossible to make everyone happy and you will also have to deal with many snarky comments about your work.
Can you provide for your family by working as a translator?
While some translators who live in rather cheap regions are able to make a living from their jobs, many translators who live in expensive neighborhoods really struggle to provide for their families since translator salaries are often not high enough to feed a family in regions where rents and living costs are high.
Will translators suffer from old-age poverty?
Due to the rather poor money translators make during their active careers, many of them are not able to save and invest enough money for retirement and may suffer from serious old-age poverty.
Can translators retire early?
Most translators are not able to retire early since they don’t make enough money during their active careers and therefore have to work until they reach official retirement age.
Do translators get a fixed or variable salary?
The salary of translators greatly depends on the number of jobs they do.
Thus, if you are not able to acquire enough new jobs and clients, the amount of money you can make as a translator will be pretty poor.
Can you get rich as a translator?
Since translators don’t make good money from their jobs, it is almost impossible for them to get rich from what they are doing.
Do translators need a second job?
While most translators make enough money to cover their expenses, some translators are not able to make a living from what they are doing and have to get a second job.
This is often true in regions where rents and other living expenses are pretty high and a translator salary will not be enough to make a living.
Do you get training as a translator?
You don’t get continuous training as a translator.
Instead, it will be on you to hone your craft and to get really good at translation work if you want to stay successful in this field in the long run.
Do you get sick pay as a translator?
Most translators don’t receive sick pay.
Hence, it may be a good idea to build an emergency fund that you can use during times you get sick and are not able to make money so that you are still able to pay your bills.
Do translators have a high level of responsibility?
Translators don’t have a high level of responsibility.
Even though their mistakes may lead to some financial damage, translators still don’t have the same high level of responsibility as doctors or nurse practitioners whose mistakes may take away the lives of people.
Can translators work abroad?
Translators are able to work from all over the world since they can work location-independently and you can therefore choose your favorite location you want to live in a pretty flexible manner.
Is it stressful to work as a translator?
Working as a translator is not stressful since you will often not have to deal with lots of time pressure and will be able to spend your workday in a rather relaxed manner.
Moreover, you will also not have high levels of responsibility and the emotional pressure that comes along with being a translator is pretty low.
Is it boring to work as a translator?
Working as a translator may become boring since you will mainly support the work of others without being able to create your own content.
Is being a translator hard?
Working as a translator is not hard since you will not have to stress your brain that much and will also not have to work in a hard physical manner.
Are translators at risk of burnout?
Since translators spend their time at work in a rather relaxed manner, most translators are not at great risk of suffering from burnout or other serious mental problems related to their jobs.
Is there a dress code for translators?
Translators don’t have to comply with a fixed dress code.
Instead, they can wear whatever they feel most comfortable with while many other people have to wear fancy dresses or conservative suits at work.
What kind of translators are paid the most?
The more experience you have in the translation industry and the faster you are able to do your work, the more value you can provide to your clients and the more you can make as a translator.
What percentage of translators are women?
While around 38% of all translators are women, 62% are men.
However, an increasing number of women aspire to a career in the translation industry and percentages may therefore become more balanced over time.
Do I need a mentor to succeed as a translator?
You don’t need a mentor to succeed as a translator.
What’s much more important is that you have excellent knowledge of foreign languages and that you are also reliable and trustworthy so that you can make clients happy in the long run.
Do translators have a high life expectancy?
Since translators don’t have to work with heavy machines and rather work in a pretty safe environment, their risk of suffering from serious accidents or other incidents at work is rather low and their life expectancy pretty decent.
Do translators suffer from sleeping problems?
Since translators barely have to work at nighttime, most translators are able to maintain a steady sleeping pattern and don’t suffer from sleeping problems related to their jobs.
What states are best for working as a translator?
Since translators make rather poor money across states and are also able to work remotely, you should choose a location where living costs are pretty low so that you are able to afford a decent lifestyle from your translator career.
Who do translators work with?
Translators work with many different clients and stakeholders.
Thus, it is important that you are a reliable and friendly person to connect with your clients so that you get enough new jobs in the long run.
Is working as a translator cool?
Working as a translator is not considered cool by the majority of the general public.
However, you should still not care about the opinion of others that much but should rather ask yourself what’s in it for you when choosing your career.
Can you start a side hustle as a translator?
Translators are able to make additional money on the side.
For instance, they can work as tour guides or in other jobs related to the tourist industry.
Do you have to be creative as a translator?
Being creative helps you solve problems as a translator and also helps you get your work done faster since you will be better able to overcome writer’s block or other issues.
Do translators suffer from being overweight?
Since translators work in classical office environments and don’t burn lots of calories at work, they are also at great risk of suffering from being overweight.
How employable are translators?
Due to the invention of artificial intelligence, there are many software programs that will make human translators obsolite in the near future and interpreters therefore have pretty poor job security and a pretty sad future outlook.
Are translators happy with their jobs?
Most translators are not fully happy with their jobs since they are not able to make good money and also always have to worry about losing their jobs.
Is working as a translator exciting?
Being a translator is not exciting at all since you will just do translations for others and will not be able to produce your own content. In turn, your job may become really exhausting and you may get demotivated in the long run.
Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a translator?
Translators don’t have a big positive impact on our environment since they mainly care about making their clients happy without caring for our planet that much.
What are the pros and cons of working as a translator?
If you are still interested in becoming a translator, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of an interpreter career.
Interviews and own research.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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