Eight things translators love about their jobs

September 30 marks International Translation Day, a time to recognize the growing community of translators worldwide and encourage more people to embark on a career that is becoming increasingly relevant in the age of globalization. Named as the fastest-growing industry in the U.S. in 2015, translation and interpretation services is expected to add about 12,400 jobs between 2014 and 2019. As businesses go global, the growing demand for professional human translators is evident, despite the recent advances in translation technology.

To commemorate this event, we asked our Gengo translator community what they enjoy most about their jobs and at the same time, let them take pride in their chosen profession.

1. The thrill and mystery

“I never know what I’m going to find each day—a humorous travel blog, a customer’s e-mail question about a tech product, a personal (and poignant) note from a child to a parent he’s barely seen, a news article about a rock star, a message from a bank to a customer, promotional material for a hotel/resort, a frozen foods website, a press release about a fantastic new product—I could go on and on!”

– Kevin, Italian to English translator
San Francisco, USA

2. The knowledge gained

“I’m lucky to be able to keep learning more about the Japanese language every day as I work, while also learning more about my own native language at the same time. So much about culture is linked to the language. I find that the more I learn, the more aware I am of the differences between culture and ways of thinking that exist between Japan and the West.”

– Sarah, Japanese to English translator
Osaka, Japan

3. The skills required

“This profession requires equal amounts of skill — knowing the source language down to recognizing idioms, and mastering the spelling and grammar of the target language — and creativity. Translations are never simple equations with a fixed formula. There are often several different routes waiting to be taken.”

– Carola, English to German translator
Location N/A

4. The mental challenge

“I love the puzzle that is trying to wedge foreign ideas into native sentences. When you work with languages that can be so grammatically different from English, you start to realize that ideas are expressed within the confines of grammar, and it is the translator’s job to unshackle these ideas and remold them to fit them into the target language. It’s an engaging puzzle that I am endlessly grateful to call my job.”

– Spencer, Japanese and German to English

5. The creativity needed

“The thing I enjoy most about translation is that it gives me a chance to be creative. I especially love translating video games, comics, and short stories because I like figuring out how best to express the characters’ personalities and feelings in the target language.”

– Amanda, Japanese to English translator
Texas, USA

6. The independence

“I am a successful one-woman business and I find that very satisfying. I have Gengo to thank for giving me the confidence to reach out to agencies to find work.”

– Cheryl, English to French translator

7. The discipline and focus

“I love being on the knife-edge of concentration, going from the original language to the target language and back again is like shifting from the use of one side of the brain to the other. There is a constant tension which must find resolution in the smoothest and most elegant way possible. Questions of grammar, vocabulary, idiomatic expression, lexical choice, tone, culture, and fundamental word order flash through the mind quickly, or rather, all at once. Because it’s hard, it’s fun!”

– Kathleen, German to English
Arizona, USA

8. The fulfillment of completing jobs

“We may be behind a laptop, but our mind travels around the world. Being someone behind the scenes, who have helped, even in a very little aspect, in the building of a power plant in Africa or in making a wedding special for a couple somewhere in the world makes me really happy.”

– Damien, English to French Translator

Want to become a Gengo translator?

Mike Staffa

The author

Mike Staffa

Mike manages translator marketing at Gengo. Based in Tokyo, he is a tech enthusiast who's been living in Japan since 2005. In his down time Mike listens to punk music, reminisces about his years in Osaka, and tries to convince his Japanese friends that Minnesota is a U.S. state they should know.

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