A CAREER AS A PROFESSIONAL TRANSLATOR
Interviewer – You have been trading as a professional translator for 18 years. What do you think are your best assets as a professional technical translator?
MM – To me there are several qualities essential to be a successful sole trader and professional technical translator. I would split those qualities into two groups: qualities essential for sole traders and qualities essential for professional translators.
Interviewer – Ok, so shall we start with sole traders?
MM – Yes, sole traders need to keep to their promises in terms of costs, delivery dates and quality standards. They need to have good communication and organisational skills as well as advertising competences. They must be able to juggle different projects at the same time. They must make sure their clients are happy with the service provided to turn those clients into retuning customers.
Interviewer – So, in addition to the qualities just mentioned above for sole traders, what else is essential for a professional translator?
MM – In addition to the above, a professional translator needs to be competent in his/her languages and areas of expertise and humble to ask questions when required. It is also very important to enjoy and be good at researching. No texts are the same, all authors have their own writing styles and some subjects are in constant evolution, so being prepared for and enjoying text and language challenges is critical.
Interviewer – You did not mention availability. Is this not essential as well for the success of a sole trading professional translator?
MM – Availability is important, but once a professional translator excels at the other qualities above, clients will trust him/her and will plan ahead as much as possible so that that translator is available for their very special project.
Interviewer – So, how important do you think availability is?
MM – Making yourself available for the next job is paramount. Juggling projects is part of any sole trader’s daily life, so professional translators will not be any different. Some projects may be large, giving translators a sense of security for some time, but it is also very important to remain available for small documents that come along every week. Regular clients will often depend on their preferred sole trader/professional translator for that small but urgent project that cannot wait. The preferred professional (be it a translator or not) must remember this and make sure that small unscheduled projects can still be fitted in without compromising any other on-going scheduled larger project. This is often very challenging indeed.
Interviewer – In that case would it not also make sense to work with reliable colleagues, to manage unexpected workloads or deadlines?
MM – Perhaps, although this is not always easy and one would require reliable colleagues who work with the same language combination and on the same technical fields, are used to that specific client’s requirements and preferences and are available when needed. So being honest is the best. If you cannot do the job say so, if you can do it make sure it is good quality and delivered on time without any stresses being passed on to the client. Keeping clients for life is a lifetime job and one that is very rewarding.
This interview was first published in Monica Machado Translation Services Quarterly Newsletter. This and other interviews with Mónica can be read here.
Mónica Machado offers English to Portuguese Translation Services, for Portuguese-speaking African countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Portugal and Sao Tome and Principe in the areas of Oil and Gas, Agriculture and Farming, Environment, Shipping, Mining, Hydro Power, HSE and Social Sciences and International Humanitarian Aid. Fully certified translation services based in the UK. We can also translate and certify translations of educational qualifications, passports, company certificates of incorporation, birth and marriage certificates and similar documents.
Image from Stock Photos
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