Making Translation Rewarding

Joji Matsuo

Translation is a rewarding profession. It pays the bills. It also provides ample opportunity for studying about everything from technology to trivia, from marketing tactics to manufacturing techniques, from contemporary art to historic events. You name it, we translate it. And to translate it, we have to study it. No other profession is as diverse. And by specializing, we can concentrate on the fields that are most interesting, intriguing, and/or lucrative for ourselves.

I love this profession and how it gives me the kind of freedom that no other career can. By way of paying it forward, I offer three tips on how to make translation just a little more rewarding for you as well: 1) Remember that translation is all about the context. Understand the context before looking at the individual sentences and words in an assignment. 2) Learn to value a client not just by the rate they pay you, but by how easy they make your job. This applies to end-clients and agents as well. Develop the value of your clients by taking the time to teach them how they can make your job easier, which in turn, can improve the quality of your output. 3) Invest in yourself. You can spend lots of money on tools to help you do your job more efficiently, sometimes with better quality, too. But don’t forget to invest the time it takes to develop new clients, learn about new fields, study the latest technology, past technology, industries, political backgrounds, whatever it is you should be aware of to make the subject matter easier to relate to. If you are new to this profession, I hope you too will find it a rewarding one. If you are a seasoned professional, I hope you have the luxury of taking a step back every now and then to smell the roses and appreciate how wonderful our job can be.