As a translator, you’ll spend your days using your language skills to help people understand documents, carry on conversations, and generally understand what’s happening in an international setting. The job can be an exciting one, but also one that requires strong people skills and a knack for navigating cultural differences. If you’re thinking of becoming a translator, here are a few reasons you might enjoy the work.
1. You work for yourself
While you’re going to need clients with whom you work, you won’t necessarily need to work for anyone else in order to find success in this field. By casting your net wide and practicing good self-promotion, working as a translator can mean you’ll be free of the corporate world and never have to set foot in a confining cubicle again.
2. It's a multicultural experience
Being a translator means you’ll be a person who straddles multiple worlds. That’s going to put you in touch with people from all over the world -- learning about different ways of life, perhaps trying new foods, and experiencing the nuances of culture that people who simply travel to other countries don’t always get. In short, you’ll be a cultural ambassador.
3. It's an interesting life
If you’re working as a translator online or you’re translating documents, you’ll get the luxury of working wherever you want. Spend your days in a lounge chair on the beach or in a bustling cafe -- it’s all up to you.
If you’re translating for people one-on-one, there’s a very good chance you’re working with tourists, business professionals, government agents or other people who are traveling to and fro. In the course of their activities, you’ll probably get exposure to some really cool things. If you’re working with tourists, you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful sights. If you’re working with business professionals or government agencies, you might get access to fancy dinners or to locations with really nice amenities. You might be there to work, but you’ll still get the benefits of good food and nice surroundings.
4. Your brain works better than others’
As someone who’s proficient in more than one language, you can consider yourself among the smarter people on the planet. Numerous studies have found that bilingual people’s brains are more active than people who speak only one language. More specifically, bilinguals have an increased "executive function," suggests an article in Psychology Today, meaning they’re better at focusing, prioritizing, analyzing and accessing working memory.
5. You earn a competitive salary
Translators and interpreters also make a competitive salary that tends to be much higher than the national average. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, interpreters and translators earned a median income of $45,430 as of 2012, with the highest 10 percent of people in the profession earning $91,800. Of the industries in which you can work, translators and interpreters in "professional, technical and scientific" services earned the highest salaries, followed by those in government.
Translators might have to spend long hours -- or odd hours -- engaged in intense conversations or in working through complicated texts, but the benefits can also be many.