Translation and Interpreting Offer Many Career Opportunities

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Translation and Interpreting Offer Many Career Opportunities

Beginning January 1, non-English speakers in California will have their consumer rights protected by a new state statute. The law stipulates that if a loan or extension of credit secured by real property is negotiated in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean, the borrower must be given a translation of the key terms in the contract. The translation must be provided at least three days following the initial loan application. Any subsequent document making substantial revisions in the rights and obligations of the parties also requires translation. The new requirements do not apply when the terms of the contract are negotiated through an interpreter. Assemblyman Paul Fong believes that the measure is necessary because of the complexity of mortgage financial transactions. He says, "For most consumers, mortgages are the largest and most complex financial transactions of their lives. For many non-English speakers, failure to translate the documents results in limited or an incorrect understanding of key loan terms like interest rate adjustments and prepayment penalties. As a result, many end up with excessively costly loans or loans that will result in high levels of default and foreclosure."

Google recently changed the look of its home page for South Korea, adding blocks of links under the main search box. The links lead users to topics and news that are popular with Korean Internet users. Ted Cho, engineering site director for Google's Korea unit, says the change marks the first time Google has significantly altered the appearance of its home page for a local market, though the company has made cosmetic changes to accommodate different languages in the past. The change is part of Google's effort to re-invent its image in South Korea, where Google trails two domestic Web portals. The local companies present users with home pages that look more like media outlets than traditional search engines. These pages include news, photos, and updates of popular blogs and chat sites. Cho says many South Koreans are uncertain how to use a search engine that provides only a search box on a blank page. The local search engines attract users by creating large databases of popular content and linking them to related content.

In early December, the Careers section of The Wall Street Journal, featured translation and interpreting as professional careers worth pursuing. Looking at the careers from a beginner's point of view, journalist Diana Middleton noted that jumping into the field may be tempting since the demand for translators and interpreters is growing, but she added a cautionary note that being bilingual is simply not enough. The skill of conveying style and tone as well as content is key to a translator or interpreter's success and earning power. New York University Academic Director Milena Savova says translators can earn six figures per year working freelance. Full-time staff positions at language-services firms earn between $40,000 and $60,000, according to a recent survey by the Globalization and Localization Association. Translators and interpreters can earn higher pay by specializing in a specific field. For example, a background in chemistry can lead to a job translating complex documents for chemical companies, or an MBA in marketing can secure business- or tourism-related translation and interpreting work. Freelancing and flexible hours are particularly appealing for many interested in language careers. The downside is that freelancers are responsible for their own health care and retirement savings. While there is no specific degree or college education required for getting into the field, obtaining certification through a professional association or trade group can be important to success. Also, joining a group such as the American Translators Association, which has its own job bank, can help translators and interpreters find jobs.

From "Work, in Translation"
Wall Street Journal (NY) (12/08/09) Middleton, Diana

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - December 2009


 

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