Something that cannot be said about the translation or interpretation profession is that it is a static one. Translation and interpreting –and the way these two activities are performed– have evolved throughout the years and continue to evolve, allowing language professionals to seek new challenges, inviting them to review their career plans from time to time.
Even if most language professionals feel good about what they have achieved, they may also feel compelled now and then to take their careers a step further. However, this step further may not always be that clear, and there are several options available that go beyond translation and interpreting.
One option translators and interpreters have if they feel like taking their careers a step further is the expansion of the services they offer. Expanding the list of services you offer to clients may involve learning a new language, adding a new field of expertise and even learning additional techniques such as subtitling or desktop publishing (DTP). Of course, adding a new service, like investing in anything else, means devoting time –and usually money– to getting it ready.
Other freelance language professionals may move into outsourcing. This is particularly common among translators or interpreters who handle large work volumes or assignments for which they need extra help. After learning how to manage large projects with a group of translators, and enjoying this role, these service providers may decide to make their outsourcing activity official by setting up their own company (of course this is not as easy as it sounds, but let’s leave the details for a future post).
Another trend among language professionals who want to take their careers a step further includes the mentoring of other professionals through specialized programs or training. There are numerous mentoring and training programs out there (see the ATA Mentoring Program, the ProZ.com mentoring program and ProZ.com training for example), and these are open to anyone willing to pass on their language and business knowledge to others. The more translators and interpreters know about their activity, the better the language profession will be for all involved.
Taking your language career to the next level can be challenging, fun, necessary, and scary. You will get out of it what you put in, and sometimes more than that. For some, the “next level” might be getting more and better clients, increasing your rates or your overall income (more on these later!), building a team of trusted colleagues, more vacation time… as the cliché goes, “The sky’s the limit.” What would be the “next level” for you?