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How To Get Started In Freelance Arabic Translation: 6 Simple Steps

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How To Get Started In Freelance Arabic Translation: 6 Simple Steps

As the liturgical language of more than 1 billion people, Arabic is one of the oldest spoken languages in the world. It is spoken by more than 422 million people with many types of Arabic dialect across the globe. 

If you’re fluent in more than one language and Arabic is one of them, you can monetize this ability by becoming a freelance translator. The advantage is that you can earn a good amount of money, from any location in the world, while working at your own pace. 

You also have the freedom to select the kind of translation work you would like to do, accept or reject assignments according to your preferences and manage the pricing and rates that you will charge. 

What Translators Do

The job of a translator is to convert written messages from one language to another. They are fully conversant in both languages and may also have fluency in several other languages as well. 

There is some confusion about the terms “interpreter” and “translator.” They are both experts in different languages and can convert one into the other. However, the primary difference is that interpreters work with oral communication, while translators do this with the written form. However, in reality, many of these professionals’ work tends to overlap. A great many excellent interpreters are also expert translators and vice versa. 

Typically, translators have to:

  • Know and understand the original writer’s work completely
  • Adhere to the original message, style, sense and context
  • Be able to conduct research before translating and coordinate with the original author if possible
  • Use the correct pace, jargon, lingo, slang in the second language if it’s used in the first
  • Know the target audience and the author’s intention/message
  • Adhere to cultural aspects
  • Have an investigative/research-oriented approach
  • Have work habits that are methodical, detail oriented, logical, and analytical
  • Have a creative, artistic bent of mind if they specialize in translating fiction
  • Be competent to translate different formats such as journals, newspaper articles, prose, poetry, scientific work, fiction and non-fiction, etc. 
  • Render ideas and concepts accurately 
  • As computers are being used extensively today, translators need to be familiar with computer-aided translation and correct the mistakes made by the computer

Translation As A Career

At this point in time, machine translation and AI driven translation are still in their infancy. They are useful if you want to get a swift gist of what the document says, but they’re certainly woefully inadequate when it comes to written and formal language. 

As of now, human translators cannot be replaced by machines. 

Translators may take up this career either when they’re fresh out of college or they may develop an interest in it much later in life. 

To become a professional translator, you will need to get the necessary academic qualifications. 

You may have other academic qualifications as well, such as degrees in accountancy, literature, science, medicine, law or other subject that can supplement your translation skills. This combination is particularly useful when you have to translate specialist texts, banking, tax or property documents, business contracts, legal documents, scientific journals and papers. 

You may not require a degree in translation. A certificate or diploma course may be sufficient in many cases. For this you will need to have a high school certificate at least. 

You can also take up an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in translation at an institution that offers them. 

All these courses expect the student to have a prescribed level of competence in the desired language, usually tested by a proficiency exam or test. 

Once you have acquired the necessary qualifications, you can take up a career as a translator in the software industry, news media, technical/scientific industry, medical/hospitals, hospitality industry, travel/tourism, trade organizations, law courts, diplomatic corps/embassies, banks, academic institutions, and more. You can also have a lucrative career as a freelancer. 

How to get started in freelance Arabic translation

Arabic is one of the official languages of the United Nations.  As a translator, you have the opportunity to work at a prestigious world organization. There are also great opportunities in government and private sector. 

It is challenging to get high-quality Arabic translations, because it’s difficult to manage the quality of translation with cost and meeting project deadlines.

One of the issues is that all translators cannot work on all types of content. One who is well-versed in literature and artistic content may not be as competent to translate scientific or legal material. 

You can work as an in-house translator, or as an employee of a translation agency or work as an independent freelancer. 

As a freelancer, you have several advantages. This is an exciting and rewarding career, especially for young people. You can apply for both interpreter and translator jobs if your spoken and written fluency in both languages is excellent. The travel opportunities are good, and you can avoid the rut of being stuck in a 9 to 5 routine. You can work from home, or take up projects at prestigious organizations. If your area of specialization is technical, you can pick up additional qualifications in the field. Apart from print media, you can also explore the visual and film media. 

Steps to take to start a career in Arabic translation:

1. Study: Ensure that you study the Arabic language in depth. This would include culture, history, contemporary politics and regional dialects. You can take up advanced studies in your source language to gain a better advantage in the field. It is a great idea to subscribe to Arab language newspapers or online resources for better immersion in the language.

2. Specialized training: Keep your translation qualifications current and take up regular refresher courses in the language and engage with the culture and native speakers/writers as much as possible. Get internationally-recognized accreditation/certification. Keep your computer skills at cutting-edge. 

3. Specialize in an industry/field: To gain further advantage, specialize in a particular industry such as software, engineering, urban planning, medicine, or a field such as art, health, travel.

4. Gain experience: Interning, freelancing and contract work can help you gain more expertise and exposure. They may not pay well initially, but the rewards you gain are immense.

5. Client requirements: As a freelancer, match your skills to those of your target clients. They may want academic qualifications, experience and good quality in your own native language.

6. Stay Connected: Look for jobs wherever the Arabic language is spoken and invest in attending webinars, seminars and short-term courses whenever possible. Network with others in the field who can farm out freelance work to you. Join professional organizations and attend conferences held by translation associations in your country. List your services in professional translation directories for better exposure. 



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