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Übersetzer Voraussetzungen

If you are serious about becoming a translator, you must be able to fulfil the following criteria, at the very least.


  • Your standard of education must be very high; with very few exceptions, a degree is essential, though not necessarily in languages - it is a positive advantage to have qualifications or experience in another subject. Postgraduate training in translation is useful. You must be able to write your own mother tongue impeccably in a style and register appropriate to the subject and have a flair for research on technical subjects.

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  • It goes without saying, that you should have a thorough grasp of the languages in your language combination, you must also be familiar with the culture and customs of the country. The only way to do this is by surrounding yourself with the language, i.e: by living/studying in the country where the language is spoken. German is spoken in 5 countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. There is no substitute for first-hand experience of living in a foreign culture, and as an Irishman living in Berlin, Germany, I can only recommend this course of action.


  • It is best to have a specific field that you specialise in, be it literature, technical, medical, legal.


  • Have invested in a minimum of equipment and software –  At a minimum you should have a computer and appropriate word-processing software; fax machine and internet connection; suitable dictionaries, preferably online dictionaries like  LEO, which return results a the touch of button, saving you an enormous amount of time searching through printed dictionaries. If, however, you have a penchant for more classical methods, a very good German-English-German dictionary can be found here.

    A telephone; answering machine (and, optionally, a dictating machine); increasingly, today’s translators are also using translation memory software and other translation tools. In an office translation environment, the use of the Computer-Aided Translation (CAT)-tool Trados has become the standard. CAT-tools like Trados or Déjà vu can cost quite a handful. If funds do not allow, seriously think about taking out a loan to cover start-up expenses. The investment will pay off.


  • While it is not the industry standard, Wordfast also offers a very resourceful alternative as it has the functionality of Trados and Déjà vu, but doesn't cost you a penny. Donations, however, are welcome.


  • Produce a well-typed, well-presented curriculum vitae, briefly describing your education, qualifications and the languages from which you translate (source language/s). For Germany, you should usually include a picture of yourself beside your name and address and choose a tabular layout.


  • A translator translates from a source language into a target language. You should translate only into your mother tongue (target language). Make sure you  mention any other degrees you may have or relevant work experience. Say how you produce your work (word-processing software) and whether you can communicate by email or fax.


  • Never shy away from asking a friend who works in business or in the language world to take a critical look at your CV before sending it out. It is, after all, your career we're talking about! In fact, if they can help you even more, all the better.


  • If sitting at home all the time does not appeal to you, then you should not rule out the possibility of working as a freelance translator with a 9-5 office job. I myself worked in an office where the majority of translators were freelancers.


  • An online translation forum is a great way of getting your foot in the door. Sign up for e-zines and newsletters. I personally recommend translators' café.


  • You should send your CV and a short covering letter to possible places of employment: Not just translation companies though, try local exporting/importing firms of whose products/business you have special subject knowledge. If you are a student, there are plenty of companies out there looking to take on apprentices with a view to later full-time employment.


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