How to develop a beginner translator
Thread poster: Ahmed Samir

Ahmed Samir  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:44
Member (2017)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Jun 29, 2009

Dear All,

I'm working as a full time English Arabic translator with a company in the consultancy field. My question is how to develop and qualify myself in the translation industry, what is the roadmap of the job, how can I be a professional translator in my company or how can I launch a private translation project, what computer skills, linguistic skills and training courses should I get.

I know that these questions can open very large topics for discussion but they indicate that I really in a bad need for a guide to be a successful professional translator.

Waiting for your contributions.


Arthur Godinho  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:44
Member (2009)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Mentoring Jun 29, 2009

Dear Ahmed,

Have you considered requesting/applying for mentoring? A mentor serves as a guide/advisor, which at some time or another all of us can use.

On the Proz menus, if you go to 'Community' and look under 'Exchange' you can put in a request for a mentor in Proz. This may help.

Also, there is a 'Getting Started' forum that may answer some of your questions...

Hope this helps and Good Luck!!

Arthur Godinho


Inga Jakobi  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:44
Member (2006)
Chinese to German
+ ...
Linguistic skills, software skills, business skills ... Jun 29, 2009

Dear Ahmed,

this is a very complex subject and I can only give you some of my thoughts as I have also only been working as a freelancer for 2-3 years now and because there are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Spontaneously, I can think of three large knowledge categories that are very important:

1. Language skills: Maybe you do not necessarily have to study translation (in some countries, this might not be a common education anyway), BUT you need (a) the necessary knowledge of the source language, (b) excellent competences in the target language (usually your mother tongue), (c) profound knowledge in the areas of exeprtise you would like to work in and (d) knowledge in the theoretical field of translation.

2. Software skills: At least basic knowledge in all MS Office applications commonly used (Word, Excel, Power Point) is a MUST. Skills in additional applications like Publisher, QuarkXpress, Adobe InDesign etc. is a plus (and I am sure there are many more applications...). A very big advantage would be the usage of at least one CAT tool (CAT - Computer Aided Translation). I think the one mostly used is SDL Trados, but there are many more. You need to know the advantages you can gain by using a CAT tool, you need to buy one and you need to be able to actually use it. This might not be obligatory, but it is worth the investment and probably will pay off very soon when you can offer the advantages to your clients and not only provide high quality but also competitive rates. Some customers only use translators that have a CAT tool.

3. Business skills: This depends on your location, your field of expertise and how you would like to organize your business. You might need to invest in a fast, up-to-date computer, above mentioned software applications, any other hardware/software you need and good dictionaries. You also might spend either your own effort and time or money for a website, you need to keep your proz profile up-to-date, maybe enroll with some other translator networks. You also might need to register with your tax administration, organize insurances (private ones as well as business insurances) and you need to keep pace with the market, have full access to the internet (24/7) to always be able to apply for jobs, take part in discussions and just be present online so that people get aware of you.

For the time being, this is all I can think of without writing novels. But maybe this gives you a first impression and I am sure that there will be others who have more ideas. Furthermore, there have definitely been more forums about this topic, so having a look around proz can also be of good help to you.

So far...



Ahmed Samir  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:44
Member (2017)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Thanking and needing more Jun 30, 2009

Many thanks Arthur Godinho and Inga Pier for your recommendations and thoughts that are really very helpful.

But I am still waiting for further ideas and recommendations from the other colleagues.

Ahmed Samir


chica nueva
Local time: 06:44
Chinese to English
Reading, etc Jun 30, 2009

Hello Ahmed

Here are some suggestions:

Professional Reading: ProZ has quite a lot of resources. Here is another site that might be of interest:
Also: participating in KudoZ, being active in the forums (it's good for developing writing skills), working on your profile, dialogue with other peers.

I wonder, have you asked in the Arabic Forum? What was the response?


[Edited at 2009-07-01 06:04 GMT]


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