Career Advice for Interpreters & Translators

One of the best things you can do as a new translator or interpreter is make contact with seasoned professionals in the field.

You’re sure to find their advice and expertise incredibly valuable. Here are some words of wisdom to get you started:

Yohanna Valdez, a French translator, says: “Get your name out there as much as possible. Advertise yourself. If possible, get on the mailing list of a university department in your language. Universities are frequently contacted for help with translations.”

“Keep an open mind and think creatively about where to find work. You’ll be surprised by the variety of projects out there. One of my most interesting projects was translating subtitles for a documentary on hip hop in Dakar, Senegal,” says Jen Westmoreland Bouchard, owner of

Jane Libbey, a Spanish translator, says: “Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Don’t accept jobs that are more than you can handle at the beginning, you could do your career more harm than good. Never stop learning; you never know when that knowledge will help you on a project. Be generous with your knowledge.

For the most part, translators are very supportive of their peers and are quick to provide a referral when they can’t accept a job.”

“If you are a translator, always keep reading authentic sources in your target language(s). Subscribing to magazines, newspapers or websites in your target language(s) is a great idea. If you are an interpreter, make sure you have opportunities to use your verbal language skills in-between interpreting gigs to keep them sharp. Travel to countries that speak your target language as much as possible. Not only does this give you a chance to use your language skills, you’ll also home your cultural understanding. In addition, keep up on changing trends within the translation and interpreting industry,” continued Bouchard.

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