Translators transcribe written documents from one or more languages to another ensuring that the message and nuances therein remain in the translated material. They translate material backed up by an understanding of it, which can include commercial and industrial documentation, personal documents, journalism, novels, creative writing, and scientific texts delivering the translations in any format.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to translator:

translator coordinator
speech-to-text interpreter
medical translator
language leader
translation project manager
editorial translator
language specialist consultant
business translator
translator reviser
technical translator
language specialist
sworn translator
financial translator
video game translator
scientific translator
linguistic coordinator
literary translator
book translator

Minimum qualifications

Bachelor’s degree is generally required to work as translator. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Translator is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Translator career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to translator.

translation agency manager
sign language interpreter
lawyer linguist

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of translator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of translator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of translator.

Information confidentiality: The mechanisms and regulations which allow for selective access control and guarantee that only authorised parties (people, processes, systems and devices) have access to data, the way to comply with confidential information and the risks of non-compliance.
Spelling: The rules concerning the way words are spelled.
Office software: The characteristics and functioning of software programs for office tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, email and database.
Grammar: The set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of translator.

Speak different languages: Master foreign languages to be able to communicate in one or more foreign languages.
Master language rules: Master the techniques and practices of the languages to be translated. This includes both your own native language, as well as foreign languages. Be familiar with applicable standards and rules and identify the proper expressions and words to use.
Translate texts: Translate text from one language to another, conserving the meaning and the nuances of the original text, without adding, changing or omitting anything and avoiding the expression of personal feelings and opinions.
Translate tags: Interpret and translate tags from one language to another striving for accuracy in the target language.
Proofread text: Read a text thoroughly, search for, review and correct errors to ensure content is valid for publishing.
Develop a translation strategy: Perform research to better understand the subject material and formulate the right questions to get the information needed.
Follow an ethical code of conduct for translation activities: Carry out translation activities according to accepted principles of right and wrong. This includes fairness, transparency, and impartiality. Do not use judgement or allow personal opinions to affect the quality of the translation or interpretation.
Comprehend the material to be translated: Read and analyse the content and themes of the material to be translated. The translator must comprehend what is written in order to best translate the content. Word-for-word translation is not always possible, and the translator must navigate the language to best maintain the sense of the text.
Consult information sources: Consult relevant information sources to find inspiration, to educate yourself on certain topics and to acquire background information.
Follow translation quality standards: Comply with agreed standards, such as the European standard EN 15038 and the ISO 17100, to ensure that requirements for language-service providers are met and to guarantee uniformity.
Observe confidentiality: Observe the set of rules establishing the nondisclosure of information except to another authorised person.
Apply grammar and spelling rules: Apply the rules of spelling and grammar and ensure consistency throughout texts.
Maintain updated professional knowledge: Regularly attend educational workshops, read professional publications, actively participate in professional societies.
Preserve original text: Translate texts without adding, changing or omitting anything. Make sure the original message is conveyed. Don’t express your own feelings and opinions.
Provide written content: Communicate information in written form via digital or print media according to the needs of the target group. Structure the content according to specifications and standards. Apply grammar and spelling rules.
Revise translation works: Compare and perform bilingual editing by reading the translated work and comparing it to the original text.
Translate different types of texts: Comprehend the nature of the type of text to be translated, for example commercial and industrial documentation, personal documents, journalism, novels, creative writing, certificates, government documentation, and scientific texts.
Review translation works: Read thoroughly translated works in order to ensure accuracy and achievement of the purpose.
Use dictionaries: Use glossaries and dictionaries to search for the meaning, the spelling, and synonyms of words.
Update language skills: Research or practice language skills to stay current with language changes in order to best translate or interpret.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of translator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Literature: The body of artistic writing characterized by beauty of expression, form, and universality of intellectual and emotional appeal.
Court interpreting: The form of interpreting where it is mandatory to accurately translate everything the source says in order not to mislead the people who have to make judgements on the cases.
Types of literature genres: The different literary genres in the history of literature, their technique, tone, content and length.
Linguistics: The scientific study of language and its three aspects, language form, language meaning, and language in context.
Postediting: The process of revising a translation, usually generated by a machine, and improving the accuracy of the text in the translated language.
Technical terminology: Type of language used in a certain context, containing terms that have a meaning specific to a particular group or activity, such as in industry, medicine, or law.
Semantics: The branch of linguistics that studies meaning; it analyses of words, phrases, signs, and symbols and the relation between them.
Scientific research methodology: The theoretical methodology used in scientific research involving doing background research, constructing an hypothesis, testing it, analysing data and concluding the results.
Transcreation: The process of reproducing commercial content, usually brand related, in other languages while conserving the most important nuances and messages. This refers to the preserving emotional and intangible aspects of brands in translated commercial materials.
Unseen translation: The translation technique whereby unseen extracts from Latin and Greek prose or verse are presented to translators for them to translate the excerpts perfectly in a determined language, for instance English. It aims to evaluate vocabulary, grammar, and style and increase linguistic knowledge.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of translator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Develop terminology databases: Collect and submit terms after verifying their legitimacy in order to build up terminology databases on an array of domains.
Coach employees: Maintain and improve employees’ performance by coaching individuals or groups how to optimise specific methods, skills or abilities, using adapted coaching styles and methods. Tutor newly recruited employees and assist them in the learning of new business systems.
Write research proposals: Synthetise and write proposals aiming to solve research problems. Draft the proposal baseline and objectives, the estimated budget, risks and impact. Document the advances and new developments on the relevant subject and field of study.
Follow work schedule: Manage the sequence of activities in order to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule.
Type texts from audio sources: Listen, understand and type content from audio sources into written format. Keep the overall idea and understanding of the message together with relevant details. Type and listen to audios simultaneously.
Make surtitles: Translate lyrics for opera or theatre in order to accurately reflect in other languages the meaning and nuances of the artistic libretto.
Use consulting techniques: Advise clients in different personal or professional matters.
Conduct scholarly research: Plan scholarly research by formulating the research question and conducting empirical or literature research in order to investigate the truth of the research question.
Make abstracts: Write abstracts and resumes of documents summarising the most important points.
Improve translated texts: Revise, read, and improve human or machine translations. Strive to improve the accuracy and quality of translations.
Adapt text culturally: Adjust text so it is culturally and linguistically acceptable to the reader, while preserving the original message and nuance of the text.
Use computer-aided translation: Aid the language translation process by using computer-aided translation (CAT) software.
Develop technical glossaries: Organise technical terms used e.g. in scientific and legal settings into terminology databases and glossaries to aid future translations.
Create subtitles: Create and write subtitles making sure they are synchronised with the dialogue.
Work with authors: Consult with the author of the text to be translated in order to capture and preserve the intended meaning and style of the original text.
Write scientific papers: Present the hypothesis, findings, and conclusions of your scientific research in your field of expertise in a professional publication.
Perform project management: Manage and plan various resources, such as human resources, budget, deadline, results, and quality necessary for a specific project, and monitor the project’s progress in order to achieve a specific goal within a set time and budget.
Perform sworn translations: Translate documents of all kinds and affixing a stamp indicating the translation has been performed by somebody endorsed by the local or national authorities.
Keep up with language evolution: Study the evolution of the language and integrate language changes into the performance of job activities.
Identify new words: Determine if there are new words being used by a significant number of people by doing research.
Analyse text before translation: Understand the messages conveyed and the nuances of the text in the original text to be translated.
Use translation memory software: Facilitate efficient language translation using translation memory software. This software collects and stores previously translated texts and their translations, broken down into segments. It looks for matches between these previously translated segments and the present text.
Decode handwritten texts: Analyse, understand, and read handwritten texts with different writing styles. Analyse the overall message of texts to ensure coherence in the understanding.
Translate language concepts: Translate one language into another language. Match words and expressions with their corresponding brothers in other languages, while making sure that the message and nuances of the original text are preserved.

ISCO group and title

2643 – Translators, interpreters and other linguists





  1. Translator – ESCO
Last updated on August 8, 2022

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