Whilst pretty much everyone knows what translation is, a lot of people aren’t very clear on exactly what it is translators do, and where they do it.
They’ve got a mental image of people typing away in UN offices somewhere, but beyond that, they’re not certain where, how and for whom translators actually work.
If you’re not sure where modern translators can be found working, then you’ve most definitely come to the right place. Read on for a short guide to where all the translators are hiding.
The vast majority of translators are self-employed. They’re hired by translation agencies or sometimes direct clients, and they generally have a broad portfolio of clients that they work with on a regular basis.
Some freelancers specialise in very specific types of translation, like medical or legal, or focus on an obscure niche, but most freelancers have a range of different, complementary specialisms.
You might find freelancers in a coworking space or a cafe, but most will have their own cosy home office, and a lot are happy to admit that they spend far too much time in their pyjamas, as they’re far too busy working to get changed.
One of the wonderful things about being a freelance translator is that you can, in theory, work from absolutely anywhere, as long as you’ve got a decent Wifi connection.
Translators aren’t as free to roam as some freelancers are, as there are often tight, timezone-dependent deadlines to meet, but you can still find plenty of translators on the road.
- In-house in translation companies
A translator working in-house at a translation company might end up doing very similar work to a freelancer.
They sometimes work remotely, too, but more often than not they work in their employer’s office space, and they generally have a fixed working week.
That means less flexibility, but also means that they don’t find themselves snowed under with translations at the weekends, as freelancers often do.
Their time is taken up translating the jobs received by the agency they work for, which can mean they end up focusing the majority of their energies on one particular client, or translating a range of different documents during the course of a day.
- In-house in other industries
A translator who doesn’t think freelancing is for them doesn’t always necessary end up in-house at a translation agency.
In some multi-national industries, it’s commonplace for a company to have its own in-house translation team, rather than farming out the work to an agency.
Examples of companies that might be large scale enough to have a full-time translator, or team of translators, on their payroll, would be international retailers, internet giants and airlines.
- Public institutions
Last but not least, translators are vital at public and governmental institutions that have to interact with speakers of other languages.
Whether it’s translating from the institution’s official tongue into another language or vice versa, institutions all over the world have to translate vast amounts of official paperwork on a daily basis, and employ translators full-time to deal with the workload.
As the contents of these documents is often confidential, it’s more secure for an institution to translate documents internally that it would be to send them to a translation agency.
Wherever a translator works, however, the reality of their day-to-day work is often pretty similar.
Modern translation involves staring at a computer screen for hours at a time, and can often be a little repetitive, but, luckily, our passion for what we do means every day is a new challenge to be relished, wherever we can be found.