https://www.duolingo.com/TheShadowBroker

Interpreting/Translating: What languages offer me the best job opportunity?

My main career interest is to be an interpreter and/or translator.

The Languages I currently know are English and Italian, and I am working on Spanish right now.

I would like to know how many doors these languages will open for me. Are they in demand in a specific part of the world?

I am also looking to add a 4th language to my expertise. Which language would be most beneficial, when grouped with the others?

I live in the United States, however moving to Europe is something i'm willing to consider, depending on factors.

2 years ago

29 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/KevanSF
KevanSF
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I've never done interpreting, and probably never will, so can't comment on that, but here are a few thoughts off the top of my head about translation. Maybe something in here will be of use to you.

The translation company I work for does the most volume in Japanese, then French (to English). German also gets a good number of jobs. I translate Italian (to English) and it's relatively low-volume, maybe 10-20 jobs a week give or take, compared to maybe dozens to hundreds a day in some of the other languages. (This is just one small translation company, so this is my anecdotal information, not intended to be taken as reflecting the huge world of translation.)

Like anything, translation is a business. Someone has to pay for it, so if you're looking for a lot of work, look for languages in which a lot of business is done, such as Japanese, French, German, Spanish. Businesses pay for the bulk of general translation, and always need web sites, apps, product reviews, customer e-mails, etc., translated. A lot of startups also have plenty of money to throw around getting things translated to break into new markets. I've done some work for small Italian companies to increase their English-language presence, for example.

In addition to the languages mentioned above, I would think Mandarin and Portuguese would become increasingly important in the coming years due to growing economies and growing business prospects.

Another field of translation is government. I'm sure the EU has quite a large translation budget, and of course, translating all the various languages into English is a big part of that. I have no real guidance or information about working for government though.

Literary translation (novels and such) generally pays a lot less than business translation, because books don't generally make a lot of money to begin with, and the author and the publisher and editor and the retailer all need to get a cut, so they're not keen on spending much for the translator. Still, it could be fun and rewarding if you find an author whose work you like.

Translators should, and generally do, only translate into their native language.

Assuming you're an American like me, I would suggest using your spare time to review English writing and punctuation with some good books. Imperfect grammar, poor sentence structure, or inelegant writing in general often trips up translators. Plus, it's fun to review grammar, and if it isn't fun for you, then translation may not be your thing.

You should read a lot in your languages, and in a variety of fields (business, the arts, fiction, travel, fashion, etc etc).

Probably a whole lot more I'm forgetting, but hopefully others will chime in and add some tips.

Good luck!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheShadowBroker

Thank you very much!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mr_Eyl
Mr_Eyl
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In Europe? German.

Overall? Arabic and Mandarin. All three will be particularly handy if you want to interpret for corporations.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/UneJamKuqEZi

In the United States, both English and Spanish are important. In Europe, either French or German. French is the second most learned language in the world, because people probably are learning it for a job. Obviously it depends on the country, but Europe in general, I would go with French.

For the United States, it also depends on this map. So knowing English and Spanish is important, but in this map is shows you the third most used language in those states. (Except North Dakota, Louisiana, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, the former's second most used language is German, and the latter four are French.)

This one shows the second most used language in each country in Europe:

So maybe you could refer to this when choosing a language. Hope this helped! :D

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConnorMaichle
ConnorMaichle
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Poor Denmark, left out, again...

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LangForThought
LangForThought
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I like how the only 2 countries that actually use their language are Ireland and Belarus haha

Edit: Oooohhhhhh I just saw the header. "Second most used languages". My bad. No wonder this was so surprising haha

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheShadowBroker

Thanks!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ezkertia
Ezkertia
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In general, there is a lot of demand for Spanish, but also a lot of supply. There is less demand for Italian, but also less supply. I don't know how much you know about interpretation and translation; interpretation in particular is grueling and unless you have native-level proficiency in both languages you will be at a tremendous disadvantage. Translators almost always translate from their L2 into their L1, and many, many people who are good at a language but not completely native-like in their proficiency make their living doing translation.

As KansasBurri suggests, in addition to language skills, you need to develop expertise in one or more subjects, such as finance, law, computer hardware, etc. I don't know that clients will expect you to have a degree in the subject, but they will expect you to have a good understanding of the concepts and a thorough familiarity with the relevant technical terms in both languages. If you're serious about becoming a translator, I wouldn't worry about starting yet another language, at least not for now. Get good in Italian and Spanish, and develop subject matter expertise in a subject where there's a steady stream of work.

To help you gauge the translation market and to make contacts with actual translators, you should spend time at proz.com. You should also consider becoming a student member of the American Translators Association, and maybe attending their annual conference next November; it's a great way to meet people in the profession. Be aware that translation is not a typical desk job, and most translators are freelancers. Get to know some professional translators; talk to them about the hours they work, the regularity of the jobs that come in, the level of stress they experience, etc. It's not a bad career path by any means, but it's not for everyone. Be sure you know what you're getting into.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KansasBurri

It depends on your profession. Being fluent in Italian is great, but doesn't do anything for your job opportunities unless you have a relevant degree. For example, being fluent in Italian on its own is almost useless, but if you're fluent in Italian and have a degree in aviation, your job opportunities will expand rapidly. A chemical company from Russia won't want an interpreter/translator who doesn't have a degree in chemical engineering for example.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LangForThought
LangForThought
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My plan out of highschool is to be a language analyst in Russian (and maybe Chinese and Arabic) for the NSA. They pay really well and I'll be attending college when I'm not doing that. If you're interested, they're looking for speakers of Russian, Mandarin, Korean or Arabic, and as far as I know they keep you stationed here in America.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ilmarien
Ilmarien
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In the US, aside from the obvious answers (Mandarin, Arabic), I'd also mention Portuguese. Large demand, surprisingly small supply. I'd recommend it above Spanish because there's less competition.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kimonocrazy
kimonocrazy
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As an American sign language interpreting student, I would say if you want to be an interpreter where ever you end up living you could learn to interpret between the country's sign language and their main spoken language.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aokoye
aokoye
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From what I've heard from people who have been talked to by various governmental agencies, Russian would be a good bet. Whatever you do I highly suggest you look into language flagship programs as you'll be going to university soon. I have a friend in one of the Russian flagship programs and she can't speak highly enough of it. I also know a professor who work with students at one of the Mandarin programs and she has a lot of good things to say as well.

Honestly if I could start my undergraduate degree all over again I'd probably choose to do one of the Mandarin flagship programs.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AdamTrem
AdamTrem
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Well, based on statistics, I'd say learn Mandarin if you want gainful employment. That's obviously not an easy task. But here is a link to a Wikipedia article showing the percentage of English speakers and the eligible population of speakers. It should give you some idea of which widely spoken languages don't have a lot of people available to translate things into English (which I'm assuming is your native tongue). Lower percentage of speakers and larger number of eligible population SHOULD equal more opportunity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_English-speaking_population

Please note that the link only sorts by country, and not by the spoken language of the country. If you just go by the color-coded map, the most needed languages (in no particular) order should be:

Mandarin Chinese Russian Spanish Portuguese French Hindi

As for how the future plays out, that's anyone's guess War? Peace? Increased trade between countries? Increased immigration? Those things will factor in to how useful a language will be. Good luck in choosing wisely.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EztizenS
EztizenS
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As a translator or as an interpreter? As a government official or as a freelancer? What country do you want to live in? Depending on all of that. But mostly, your languages need to be STRONG, really strong; and you should master your native language like an expert. In fact, you should be an expert.

Most languages will give you a job. Some will be better paid, but you'll have less workloads, so you might not be able to make ends meet just with that one. Others will give you lots of work, but very badly paid. Also, and specially in the case of interpreting, without formal training, the knowledge of the languages by themselves will be useless.

The popular languages are always a good choice. There's a reason they're popular. You should also consider how long it'll take you to master them to a level where you can translate a text on Quantum Physics fast enough from that language. You might think there are many people who translate from French, so you'll choose Mandarin, but then you might have to spend 10 years learning Mandarin, several of those living in China and working/studying in Mandarin full time, before you can start using it in a professional setting, and then you might not even get enough work just with that language. *

My advice is to work on your native language and get formal training. If you're happy with the languages you're learning right now, just concentrate on those and become the best Spanish and Italian translator there is. Then, think about what other language you want to add.

About interpreting, this forum might be very useful: http://interpreting.info/

*Of course, you can study a language for reasons appart from using it professionally. Many of us do. And if you end up getting some (or a lot) of work for that language, then even better!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheShadowBroker

African languages aren't my thing, but thanks for the link anyway

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Science_Yay

I don't think you'll be able to work as a translator for these major languages without having studied them and translating at a University and getting a degree, honestly.

If you're looking for an additional language I'd probably recommend Arabic. Especially since there are a lot of connections from the 'western world' to the Arabic speaking people, countries, and cultures, but very few 'westerners' speak Arabic.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheShadowBroker

I'm going to college next year to get a degree in these lanugages soooooo

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Science_Yay

Well, that's a great plan! I'm wishing you the best of luck

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConnorMaichle
ConnorMaichle
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If you can prove fluency otherwise, you'll do fine as well. However, college degrees look good on a form.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CodyORB
CodyORB
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North America? English, of course

South America? Portuguese

Europe? French

Africa? Swahili

Asia? Chinese+Arabic

Australia? English.

Once you have all of these mastered you are ready to go.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Science_Yay

I'd say it's kind of obvious that they already know English.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConnorMaichle
ConnorMaichle
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Okay, I'm no expert, but I do know some stuff about this. In Europe, German and French, definitely. French is a major language, especially historically. Right now, German is even more important, with the largest economy and population. However, French is an official language of the U.N., and everything is officially recorded in French at U.N. meetings. So if Europe is your place, then German and French are the way to go. If you want to stay in America, Spanish os projected to become more and more spoken, though on the business level English is still by far most used. Mandarin is becoming increasingly important because of so much business.

The CIA is looking for speakers of Russian, Mandarin, Arabic, Pashto, Urdu, Dari/Farsi, and even Indonesian and Somali. In Europe, they lack translators of languages like Turkish, Polish, and some other languages. '

I'd say go with German and French, although you will get a lot of competition, there will be more options.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConnorMaichle
ConnorMaichle
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Also, I think in the future, Brazilian Portuguese and Hindi/Urdu will become increasingly important, as both are BRICS countries with quickly developing economies.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheShadowBroker

Thank you for your input!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_lusofono_
_lusofono_
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I'm quite surprised by that, even knowing that German is the most-spoken language in the EU. I'd think that most German businesspeople would already be fluent enough to read and write correct English.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/amaratea
amaratea
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no idea about your question but have a lingot for your nickname :D

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/louie9000yt

How did you learn all of them languages?

4 months ago
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