It’s hard to imagine a world without translation. In today’s global economy, the transfer of written information across languages shapes everything from commerce to politics, science and medicine. We use it to sell products, promote services and land new business.

But who are the artisans behind the craft? What makes a good translator? Can’t anyone who’s bilingual be a translator?

Translators are university educated professionals who transpose a text from one language into another, producing engaging content that reflects the spirit of the original.  They don’t just convey meaning; they also strive to mirror the author’s voice, style and intention.

A good translator is a well-read individual with excellent writing and research skills, a superior understanding of the cultural environment, a solid grasp of grammar, punctuation and structural mechanics, and a somewhat obsessive attention to detail. Here, being a “grammar Nazi” is actually a job requirement!

Speed, efficiency and high stress resistance are also critical in a business where tight deadlines are par for the course. Since many translators are paid per word, the ability to produce quality work on time means the difference between a mediocre income and decent pay. To boost their productivity, translators also need to be tech savvy: the use of computer-assisted translation – special software with term banks, translation memory and autosuggest features – has become an industry staple.

Remember that translators are masters at reading between the lines, a skill that comes with hard-earned experience and proper training. In other words, simply being bilingual just won’t cut it.