Is a Translation Career For You?


An average Chinese translator earns about $70 per hour. That’s not unimpressive by any comparison. And the good ones make a lot more than average translators and the top translators earn a few times more than the good ones. So, the money is there. However, that shouldn’t be the only thing you should consider.

A translation career is not everyone. If you are taking Mandarin classes in Singapore right now and enjoy learning Chinese immensely and is thinking about a translation career, you should ask yourselves these three questions. Your response to them, more than anything else, will reveal if it’s worth to become a translator.

How much important it is for you to receive validation from others?

Most people understand the value of professions like an accountant, lawyer, doctor, etc. However, not many understand or fully understand the intrinsic value attached to the job of the translator.

The need to feel validated is a basic human need. Though, some have a greater need to feel validated, to be assured by others that what they are doing is really worth it. If it is important for you that others recognize and appreciate your talent, knowledge, and contributions, a career in translation might not be suited for you. This is because often people not involved in language industry fail to understand the value a translator brings to the society.

On the other hand, if you can live without or with less validation and love languages, a translation career is the right one for you.

Do you enjoy language enough to learn it seriously?

The point here is not whether you are passionate about languages but rather can you make a conscientious effort to learn it. Being immensely passionate about a field of work is not the only criteria for excelling it. Many a time, passion has got nothing to with it.

What’s most important is that you must like what you do enough to work on your skills to become better and better at it. Here’s a matrix that can give you a fair idea whether a translation job is a right choice for you.

  • Are you passionate about languages but not good at translation? You should look for another career.
  • Are you not passionate about languages but pretty good at translation?  You might become a good translator.
  • Are you passionate about languages and pretty good at translation? You might become a great translator.

Do you’ve aptitude for translation?

All of us can learn new things if we are prepared to put in effort and time. However, some of us have greater aptitude for a certain thing than others. If you find it difficult to learn a new language, remember grammar rules, or create coherent, grammatically-correct sentences, a career in translation might not be your cup of tea. You probably would have better success at doing something for which you have a greater aptitude. On the other hand, if you learn foreign words and grammar rules easily, you should continue to learn Chinese in Singapore to bring your skills to the next level.

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