I’ve been working with Japanese translators for more than a decade. Leading and forming close relationships with a team of passionate Japanese linguists with diverse professional and personal paths has taught me more about the wonders of cross-cultural work than might fit in a single article.
Whether you have a casual interest in Japanese, or are entertaining the idea of becoming a translator, here are some wonderful perks of becoming a Japanese translator, that you might be interested in.
5. A wide and diverse market
The best translators, experience has proven me, have one or two niches. They specialize in providing very specific services in their areas of expertise and passionate interest. Even within these niches, Japan offers diversity and innovation. Not only is this country one of the greatest tech hubs in the world, but it’s also ahead of the curve when it comes to, for example, entertainment and manufacturing.
A Japanese translator will get interesting, challenging and diverse work, even within very specific areas of expertise.
4. Rich worldview
Japanese writer Haruki Murakami once wrote, “To learn another language is like becoming another person.” Language learning itself expands your human experience. And, to do their job to the best of their ability, a translator needs to have a deep understanding both of languages and of the cultures around them.
As a consequence, the wider the worldview, the better the translator. This deep understanding of the cultures involved is what guides a translator, interpreter or localizer through the trickiest details, and inspires them to give an accurate and evocative translation.
In some cases, providing a top-notch translation service relies on expertise regarding a trade or area of knowledge. For instance, one of our sub-teams is dedicated to providing language services for the gaming industry. This team consists not only of linguists who are gamers themselves, but also of people with professional experience occupying many roles within the gaming industry.
Considerable knowledge in the industry or field is a must because, in some instances, it takes specific knowledge to be able to properly set goals and priorities within a project.
3. Rare and highly-requested
As a Japanese learner, you know how demanding developing an almost instinctive understanding of a foreign language is. It requires you to develop that advanced understanding of a second language. It can be significantly hard for foreigners to reach a native-like level of Japanese.
Due to the high threshold of expertise Japanese translators working in every language pair must reach, they remain comparatively rare. And, with Japan’s ever-growing economy and expanding powerhouses in almost every single industry, they remain highly-requested.
2. Learning is your job
As I mentioned above, the deeper the cross-cultural understanding, the better the translator. This is not only about languages. If you’re passionate about Japanese culture, becoming a translator is a way, not only to get closer to Japanese people and their culture, but of turning that beautiful quest into a job.
But translators don’t only learn by working, and they don’t always learn alone. A variety of international events, conferences and courses are always available, so linguists can sharpen their skills while networking with other professionals.
1. A job type for everyone
This isn’t a specific perk of Japanese translation, but of working as a language services provider in general.
I started my career as a Spanish medical interpreter, working relatively regular hours within a staff. Other interpreters work as freelancers, completely independent of any company, or within a network of translators and interpreters that a company knows they can call whenever they need a specific kind of service.
The job opportunities available to interpreters and translators are diverse and flexible. And, thanks to the internet, one doesn’t have to limit their professional world to the city, state or country they live in. It’s, literally, a world of opportunities. Adam wrote a great article about finding freelance work, for this series “Becoming A Japanese Translator.” If you’re looking to kick-start your freelance career, that’d be a great place to start.
What about you?
Are you working to become a Japanese translator? Do you know someone who is? Let us know in the comments!
Sean Hopwood, MBA is founder and President of Day Translations, Inc., an online translation and localization services provider, dedicated to the improvement of global communications. You can visit their website if you need Japanese translation services.