What does a Literary Translator do?

Translators convert information and language information and words from one language to another. They convert concepts from source languages to equivalent concepts in a target language and compile information and technical terms into glossary and terminology databases. They speak, read, and write fluently in at least two languages, one of which is typically English. They relay the original language’s style and tone and render spoken messages accurately, quickly, and clearly.

Translators apply cultural knowledge to assist with meaningful interpretations or translations of an original message. They aim to have people understand a translation as though it's the original written or spoken material. They do their job intending to duplicate the original text or message’s integrity, intention, structure, and style. They must properly transmit cultural references which includes slang and other expressions that do not have a literal translation. Translators need a bachelor's degree and proficiency in at least two languages, one of which is typically English.

What responsibilities are common for Literary Translator jobs?
  • Assist with the creation of presentations and events.
  • Compile information, such as technical terms, to be used in translations and check translations of technical terms and terminology to ensure that they are accurate and remain consistent throughout translation revisions.
  • Provide translation and transcription services to include the translation of written, electronic and multimedia material.
  • Materials include, but are not limited to: business, legal, medical, technical, documents, software, website localization for video subtitling and captioning.
  • Be able to leverage resources to ensure appropriate and accurate translation.
  • Take an active role in sustaining transliteration standards of the client's practices and operations.
What are the typical qualifications for Literary Translator jobs?
  • Bachelor's or Graduate's Degree in language.
  • Can problem solve for clients with confidence and leadership.
  • Fluency in applicable languages.
  • Strong multitasking skills and attention to details.
  • Able to fix errors and clarify terms.
Education--
Work/Life Balance
3.7 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.5 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

How much does a Literary Translator make?

Confident
$60,430 /yr
Total Pay
$56,639
 /yr

Base Pay

+
$3,791
 /yr

Additional Pay

$60,430

 / yr
$35K$103K
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
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Literary Translator Career Path

Learn how to become a Literary Translator, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Literary Translator

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
3%
2 - 4
28%
5 - 7
23%
8+
46%
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Literary Translator Insights

Read what Literary Translator professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Language Matters Recruitment ConsultantsLanguage Matters Recruitment Consultants
Translator
Aug 28, 2021

“I rejoined after many years and get regular assignments that fit my interests and decent pay.”

iD Tech CampsiD Tech Camps
Translator (Japanese to English)
Jan 19, 2021

“The lunch was always really good and I felt very happy to work with my coworkers and the students.”

Priority Dispatch Corp.Priority Dispatch Corp.
Spanish Translator
Oct 11, 2022

“Working on translations since second week which is great because it is what I am here for.”

E4NET
Freelance Translator
Jan 9, 2021

“That's why I said this is a good place "to start your career."”

United NationsUnited Nations
Translator
May 19, 2021

“There are not many opportunities for career growth once you land in a job in these areas.”

Angel OneAngel One
Translation
Oct 27, 2020

“Good and nice Ambience to work with”

Cactus CommunicationsCactus Communications
Translator
Feb 2, 2022

“High and good payment”

JanssenJanssen
Translator
Nov 18, 2020

“Very political and impossible to progress your career unless you know the right people.”

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Literary Translator Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of translators

A typical day of a translator is spent translating documents from one language to another. Translators typically work in a foreign language that they speak fluently in and convert the contents of the document to another language. A career in translating involves writing rather than speaking and requires written fluency and command of at least two languages. Translators work with unique documents, ranging from technical and legal material to financial, scientific, and commercial documents.

Translators typically work on projects on a contract basis rather than an hourly wage. The working conditions are optimal for those who don't like to commute, as many translators can work from home or remotely. While the demands of each assignment and position vary, translators might also have a typical 9-5 schedule.

Yes, qualified translators get paid well. The average base pay of a translator is $60,430 per year in the United States but can vary depending on language specialty and experience. Salary is dependent on how in-demand their foreign language is and their level of expertise. Currently, German and Spanish are the highest requested languages.

One of the challenges of working as a translator is it is a highly solitary role that requires long moments of concentration and focus. This can be trying for those who are social. Translating can also mean working long hours in order to meet strict project deadlines.

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