A great translator does more than just ace all academic qualifications he or she needs. Having a broad range of translation skills is a must for success in this competitive industry.

Translation refers to the communication of meaning from a source language to another. It is not limited to written text but also includes spoken information. Aside from ensuring that the message remains true, a translator also works on keeping the intent and tone of the message accurate through considering the cultural and regional differences between the source language and translated version.

To have a successful career in translation, skills beyond interpreting one’s work in another language are needed. This job is integral in many fields, such as politics and sports. So every translator uses their translation skills within the right context and meaning.

Since all languages evolve, professionals have to continually work on their understanding of the languages they know.

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This post was updated in April 2021

What Is Translation?

You can translate anything, including websites, subtitles, books, and legal documents. Most of the time, translators work from a particular language into their native tongue.

Translation is not a new concept. People have translated information for many centuries. Now, translators rely on specialized tools and software applications to streamline their work.

Anyone can become a professional translator if they speak two or more languages. However, some language combinations are more lucrative than others, such as German and Mandarin. Your field of work can also be a factor in how much you can earn. Some types of translation pay higher, such as technical, financial, medical, and legal fields.

There are numerous career paths for translators. Many professionals prefer to work freelance, while others want to work for an organization such as the European Commission or the United Nations. You can even become a project manager for projects that involve two or more countries.

Translation Skills You Need to Possess

If you want to become a professional translator, you have to master various tricks and insights. For this, you need to constantly practice and increase your knowledge base. Only after building a broad foundation in translating will you possess the translation skills you need to thrive in this industry.

Become bilingual or multilingual

It would be impossible for you to become a translator if you don’t know at least two languages. Although every bilingual can’t be an interpreter, your knowledge of languages is the foundation for your translation skills. And when you translate, you are dealing with two different cultures as well as the different languages.

Bilinguals and multilinguals can take into account both culture and language aspects as they switch from one language to another. If you’re an experienced bilingual speaker and writer, you need to develop your linguistic abilities to adapt to the source and target culture to improve your overall translation skills.

Stay organized

Just like any other job, you need to be very organized if you want to become a good translator. When you work on many projects simultaneously, it is integral that you stay on track. You need to learn how to stay true to your schedule. There are many techniques you can use to deliver your projects on time without decreasing the quality of your work.

Regarded as one of the essential translation skills, being organized will save you a lot of time as you work on important tasks. When you are organized, you will also improve your workflow. This quality leads to better outputs. Aside from this, it can also decrease your stress level.

As all your tasks pile up, you can be sure that you will not forget even a small task. But when you are disorganized, you may be sidetracked by an urgent task and forget to tackle smaller but important items.

Learn translation rules

When you’re new in the field, you familiarize yourself with all the translation rules you can find before you get started. If you want to make money out of this career, it is a must to develop two types of qualities.

First, do not get caught up in all the unnecessary aspects of your job, such as making every possible social media page you can think of. Instead of doing this, focus more on your strategies to achieve all your short-term and long-term goals. All you really need is a website, and you’re all set.

The second aspect you have to develop includes mastering the principles that govern translation. This part includes the processes required in your line of work, how to solve any problems you encounter, your method, and your approach to translating, among many others.

Translation Skills and Checklist Needed to Translate from Different Languages

Ability to research well

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced translator, it is impossible to know everything. For example, not every word you need to translate is in the dictionary. Thankfully, you can find the information you need in other sources and target texts.

When you are not afraid to research, you will continuously learn. This skill is not only limited to learning new words but also other software and gadgets that can improve your workflow. You may also research to improve your performance in a particular field.

Keep in mind that the translation industry is highly competitive. So while many people can do translations from one language to another, there aren’t many who have a distinct specialty. For example, there are thousands of people who can translate from Spanish to English. However, not a lot of professionals are well-versed in the medical or finance fields. When you learn more about your area of specialization, you can gain find greater work opportunities in an exclusive market.

Great reading comprehension

If you want to succeed in your field, you have to be fluent in the source and target audience not only when speaking, but also when reading. This way, you are sure that what you are translating is accurate. To improve this translation skill, you need to read a lot of materials in both languages. You may even take language courses and seek the help of guides.

While there are people who can read, reading and comprehending are two different concepts. Reading only refers to decoding text into spoken words. On the other hand, reading comprehension includes reading words and knowing their meaning. When you have amazing reading comprehension, it will be easy for you to understand, recall, and accurately translate what you just read. Excellent reading comprehension increases the effectiveness of your translation since you can have a clear understanding of the meaning of the text.


Composition refers to the act of creating written text. It is one of the most important translation skills since this allows you to convey emotions, ideas, views, and arguments in your line of work.

Composition also refers to the analytical aspect of your job that goes beyond the obvious meaning of the words. This skill is vital, especially if you are assigned an in-depth document to translate that includes persuasive, narrative, argumentative, or descriptive writing.

Great listener

A good translator is also a good listener. When you start working on a document or a video translation, you should read through the text or listen to the audio fully so you can understand its context.

If something confuses you, simply ask questions and visualize the message the writer s trying to convey. It’s not about how you write or say the words; it’s about how you deliver the message of the author.

You can improve your listening skills in many different ways. But it is important to practice listening every day by listening to the people around you. In time, you will be able to utilize this valuable skill to make your personal and professional relationships stronger.

Translation Skills That every Translator Needs to Professionally Translate


Clients will request for translations to be done using in-house applications and software. Because of this, it is vital to hone your computer skills. When assigned to a huge project, you will have to work with translation memories and glossaries to improve your speed and efficiency.

But being tech-savvy is not enough. You also need a decent computer with updated versions of your preferred translation programs. It is worth it to invest in these programs, as well as a good internet connection, which is important if you need to have online meetings with clients. Once you learn the ins and outs of researching and doing your job with the help of technology, you will produce better and faster results.

Attention to detail

There is very little room for error when it comes to translation since mistakes can have major consequences. In recent years, you may have noticed a steady stream of funny translation errors that have created consequences for the company involved. As a translator, you must produce work free of any mistakes. To achieve this, review your work and use spellcheck and quality control tools to help you produce nothing but perfection.

Cultural knowledge

Translators always deal with cultural barriers when translating work across cultures. Since cultural intelligence cannot be learned through reading dictionaries, you have to master it as you are studying the language. A great translator needs to be culturally intelligent. This translation skill will allow you to sympathize with the target audience. Not only that, but it will also improve your translation skills as you are working with people from different cultures and backgrounds.


Even if you are the best translator in your field, it would be impossible to attract clients if you do not know how to market your services correctly. Marketing will allow you to inform potential and current customers exactly what you do. Before people hire you, they should have a clear understanding of what you offer and details about your past performance.

Marketing can be done through various channels, such as social media, e-mail, and posters. It also encompasses customer engagement. Remember that nobody wants to work with someone who is not easy to get along with.

Marketing is essential to expand your business. While the quality of your translation is important, you also need to learn how to build good connections with your clients, whether it is face to face or over the internet. After you have achieved the perfect balance between professionalism and pleasantness, you will be a translator who is in high demand.

Put Your Translation Skills to Work!

People speak many languages throughout the world. And some people are fortunate enough to learn how to speak and write in two or more languages.

If you’re one of these people and want to become a translator, remember that the secret to being amazing at your job is to love your work and to keep practicing important translation skills.

If you’ve already developed your skills, then good news! Join up with Bunny Studio today and start getting high-quality gigs!