Translation Skills

7 Powerful Translation Skills Every Translator Needs

Although there are many benefits to being a freelance translator, you still need to have the necessary translation skills for the profession. In other words, if you’re unprepared for what translation will demand of you, then your freelancing career will be in jeopardy. 

So, instead of going into uncharted waters in translation, be sure to have these seven powerful skills in your arsenal.

Language Fluency

“Fluency is vital when translating target languages,” says Ashley Urquharta recruiter at Australian help and Paper fellows. “Therefore, you have to know the target language thoroughly, in order to pull it off. Some of the best ways to immerse yourself in a language is to live or spend a lot of time in that language’s country, to get a better sense of how it’s heard and spoken.”

Exceptional Writing

Being a good translator isn’t just about being able to speak the language… but also being able to write it. As with your own language, writing in a target language is just as important as speaking it. In other words, you must be able to write with flair, as well as keep in mind the variety of text styles – promotional and marketing, formal/legal, casual, technical, etc.

One way to make your writing better, in this case, is to get plenty of feedback on it. You can ask native speakers and or fellow translators how words should be written, or how they should sound. Another way is better your translated writing is to take a writing course that helps you perfect you writing in a different language other than your own.

Reading And Comprehension

As you learn to speak and write in a target language, it’s obvious that you have to able to read it fluently. As you learn to read in that language, you should be able to understand the text, whether you’re reading something aloud, listening to someone else or audiobook read, or immersing yourself with different texts of the same language. Plus, whenever you read certain words and phrases that you really like, don’t hesitate to add them to your vocabulary. 

Cultural Knowledge

It’s important to have a deep understanding of both source and target cultures. That is, cultural knowledge of the language that you’re translating. 

Cultural knowledge has to do with values systems, and how people (in your target language) view the world. You also have to think about their culture-specific aspects like pastimes, customs, etc. The reason being, there are some things in your culture that aren’t the same in other cultures. 

Here are some great ways to extend your cultural knowledge:

Know Your Strengths

Knowing your strengths as a translator is essential to the business. In other words, there’s no need to take on every translation job in the market. 

For example, if you’re bilingual and have years of experience in a language other than English, then let that be your starting point. If you specialize in an area of a language, then go with that. 

Adequate Research Skills

It’s not surprising to see that many translators spend most of their time researching things. The purpose of this research is to make sure that the terminology, wording, vocabularies, background, and jargon are correct, as they translate.

Here are some ways that you can go about your research, as a translator:

  • Learn how to refine Google searches, when looking up translations.
  • Learn from your peers and or fellow translators.
  • Find and bookmark your most useful reference sources
  • Don’t be afraid to ask around on translator forums.

Knowledge Of Self-Employment

“In general, all freelancers need to possess skills in self-employment,” says Benjamin Mansergh, a business writer at Boom essays and State of writing. “As a freelancer, you have to know about customer service, sales, and marketing, especially if you’re going at this on your own, should you choose not to go through an agency.”

To familiarize yourself with self-employment skills, or to brush up on said skills, there are short courses that you can take on marketing, business, and customer service. 


So, there you have it! Our list of essential translation skills, qualities, and abilities you need to be a successful freelancer. We hope that you find this list useful in your translating endeavors!

Molly Crockett writes and edits for and She also writes for As a marketing writer, she shares her unique lifestyle tips and personal development advice with her audience.

P.S. If you want to learn more on how to become a successful freelance translator, be sure to check out my free and paid books and courses.
P.S.S. To get your free guide on becoming a highly paid translator, click here.

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