What is Translation and Localisation?

What is Translation and Localisation?

Translation is one of the careers most commonly associated with multilinguals.

Given it's a sector that works directly between 2 or more languages, this will come as no surprise. However, many people are not always aware as to what a career in translation actually involves, and how to get into it. This is even more so the case with its cousin-career localisation!   


Defining translation and localisation 

Translators are language specialists, who usually translate from a learnt language to their native language. They will specialise in one particular area - whether it be law or horticulture. They are not to be mistaken for interpreters - as translators work solely with written texts, rather than spoken language. Often translators work freelance, but sometimes they can work within translation companies or ‘regular’ companies that require translation specialists. Translators can also be outsourced by recruitment companies. Translators are language lovers and often speak 3 or more languages (including their native language) to a high level. Some languages may be more useful to know than others, as they are more highly demanded in the business world.


Localisation is defined by Gala as “the process of adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market”. It requires translation skills as well as a thorough knowledge of a country's customs and culture. The work of a localiser is varied - from adapting marketing campaigns to fit in with the morals and culture of another country, we are posting positions like this with Lionbridge. Localisation even stretches to working with video games. Europe Language Jobs has multiple positions in videogame localisation with Testronic. The key word in localisation is ‘local’ - anything ‘localised’ should fit in seamlessly with local standards. The Coca Cola ‘share a Coke’ campaign is a good example of localisation - they changed the names on their bottles according to the most common names in each country. Pretty simple, but very effective.



What skills are required?

Aside from the obvious language skills required, there is much more that goes into translation and localisation. Attention to detail is essential, as you are being depended on to translate content that will be accurate to the target language. In localisation, a lack of attention to detail could be costly to any project, as a small detail deemed inappropriate or offensive could jeopardize how a project is received.


Customer service skills are another essential skill - especially if you are working freelance as you will need to understand how to interact with those coming to you for translation. You will need to be able to communicate with your client effectively, so that you are able to understand fully what you are translating and the needs of the customer. Sometimes, your client may not understand entirely how translation or localisation works, so patience and an understanding approach would be required.


To be truly successful in this field of work, self-motivation and drive is indispensable. It may sound cliche but time is money with translation and localisation. Often, translators will work freelance or out of office, so working effectively and efficiently will maximise the amount of projects you will be able to get through, and hence the amount of money you are able to earn.


Finally, in translation it is crucial that your work is unbiased. Your work is to translate text as true as possible to the original. If facts and statements are wrong, you can check with your client, but if they don’t want to change them, you have to go with your client’s wishes.



What qualifications are relevant to this career 

The basic qualifications for translation and localisation include computer proficiency as well as the obvious of being proficient in at least 2 languages, sometimes 3.  However, this does not mean you have to have studied languages at university! Degrees in Politics, Business, Marketing, Economics and Law are among a few of the degrees translators and localisers have. These degrees can be helpful as they mean you have specialist knowledge in sectors that you would be able to translate and localise.


More specifically to localisation, sometimes knowledge of SEO is required. This has become more and more important over recent years as the internet has become a key role in globalisation. Being skilled in SEO will give you a great advantage in the localisation world as expanding companies want to expand their multinational horizons. Europe Language Jobs is posting several jobs that involve SEO localisation. 


If this field of work sounds interesting to you, we’re currently posting over 100 jobs related to translation and localisation in destinations such as Barcelona, Malta, South Africa and the UK. There are also positions for people interested in working remotely