I want to know
where they work
What do they do?
Where do they work?
What do I need to be one?
What’s the training?
How do I apply?
Patents can be complicated and technical, but they need to be understood by people all over the world. In order to translate them into other languages, technical translators obviously need to be linguistic wizards (they always translate in their mother tongue), but they also need to understand the often cutting-edge science in the patents.
Sometimes the right words just haven’t been invented yet, so it takes a touch of creativity, a tonne of tenacity and a dollop of determination to trawl the web, study technical sites to find the perfect descriptions.
Translators work in patent offices or in law firms. Once you’re established, there’s a market for freelancers too.
Obviously, translators need amazing language skills – nothing short of bilingual. To prove it, a degree in languages often helps, but even then you’ll need a diploma or a Masters degree in translation too.
You can get by with just two languages – one to translate from and another (your mother tongue) to translate to – but the more languages you speak, the more useful you are and the more likely you are to get work.
Understanding the words is one thing. Understanding the ideas is another. For that, you need enough of a science background to get your head round patents which, by definition, are pushing the boundaries of innovation.
Translators don’t just wrangle words and ideas. They have to have the personal and team-working skills to deal with clients and colleagues too.
Patent translation is a very specific skill, so most translators start out as in-house translator in order to get experience. Their work will be rigorously checked by an experienced translator for at least the first six months, until they’re consistently hit the right standard.
You’re dealing with ground-breaking technologies and you’re among the first to know about them. While the translating is technical, there’s creativity in finding just the right words too.
Did you know?
The song ‘White Christmas’ was written by Irving Berlin in 1942. It is thought to be the world’s most valuable music copyright.
Translators often have to come up with the goods at short notice. They need to have a cool head and a juggler’s skill with their time management.