What qualifications do you need?

Strictly speaking, qualifications are not necessary to be eligible to work as a translator, although for some areas such as court interpreting, you need to do a special course and get an official certificate. Where qualifications do add value is in the finer techinical points of translation and they will also lend credibility to your profile.

As Brunner points out, “For the more complex translations, the really important aspects to observe are professional formatting and layout, a proper command of translation software and a lot of other aspects which are not strictly connected to linguistics. So I only ever work with people who have a translation degree or even better, an interpreting degree, just to make sure they are up to the task technically.”German translations documents cvs contracts

How many languages do you need to speak?

Most translators and interpreters speak three or four languages and you will obviously need to speak at least two languages fluently. Remember though that it’s a case of quality and not quantity, and you should avoid biting off more than you can chew.

“I speak German, English, Spanish and Italian, and dabbled in French and even Greek at one point”, says Brunner. “As an interpreter or translator, four languages is pretty much all that you can do though – if you want to maintain them to a high standard, that is, and have a life at the same time, of course.”

Where can translators and interpreters work?

Translators have a lot of options here, from working for translation companies to forming their own business, working as intepreters or getting involved in sectors such as dubbing, subtitling and gaming.

The EU is another popular destination and currently employs about 2,000 translators to handle eleven languages, with monthly salaries for permanent staff going from €4,349 to a whopping €18.370.

As Brunner says, “The EU certainly offers one of the most interesting and well-paid employment possibilities for translators. The admission exams are awfully hard though, and I’ve seen some excellent people fail there. Subtitling is also interesting for a translation agency, especially if you can offer an all-in-one package.”

Do translation graduates often end up as translators?

A lot of language students tend to plump for translation degrees, though not all translation graduates go into the field upon graduation.

“A lot of students of translation don’t actually work as translators. Some go into tourism, others into the language business. I myself worked as a director of a language school for many years. So for a student of translation, there are a lot of fields that they can work in.”

Is translation a good business to get into?

The work can, it seems, be a mixed bag and go from the tedious to the very interesting. Entrants should also be aware that the internet has brought with it a significant drop in rates and a highly competitive arena:

“The translation business is as strong as it’s ever been but more people are offering the service, and some bilingual people are selling themselves cheap in the online marketplace for as little as 4 cents per word – that’s 4 euros, not dollars! That’s quite ridiculous, and it harms the global translation community. Plus, there are millions of translation businesses out there, and competition is fierce.”

How can newcomers stand out?

Given the high competition and falling rates, many aspiring translators could well be discouraged. According to Mr Brunner, offering quality is where they can excel.

“The quality will make the difference. Not only do they need to do a good translating job, they need to think how they can add value – for instance, we offer SEO consultancy and we can also put work directly onto our customers’ websites, saving them valuable time. Things that like that add value, and make our clients come back.”

Mark Heaney is a freelance writer living in Valencia, Spain. He has also worked for an english german translation company and teaches English to foreigners. His great passions are linguistics, football, and fashion.


Choose your German Translation Agency carefully

German to English and vice versa is the most common language combination worldwide. That`s right, bigger than Chinese, Japanese, French, Arabic, and other languages which might be more widely spoken than German. The main reason for this is the busy international information exchange between Germany and other, English-speaking countries. Especially in sectors like world politics, engineering and technology, this language combination is by far the most requested. So if you or your company set out to search for a professional language service for the first time, make use of the fact that other people have done the research for you. Here, we present the five best choices for your project:

Mark is one of the friendliest project managers out there.

Mark is one of the friendliest project managers out there.

  • Best German translation agency no. 3: G.Brunner Translation

At G.Brunner Translation, only native-speaking, professional staff take care of your projects. Every one of the linguists has been professionally trained during a minimum 5 years academic career, and they all know what they are doing. This makes G.Brunner an excellent option. You know that you pay a fair price for the quality which you are getting. So many online services use improperly trained persons whose only “claim to translator fame” is that they have spent a period of their lives abroad, or that they have grown up in a bilingual household. There is much more to the profession than that. You need to know how to use the right tools, be computer-literate and able to research terms and expression quickly and efficiently. For this, a specialized training is a minimum requirement.

  • The best German translation agency no. 2: G.Brunner Translation

This company gets our vote as no. 2 because of the additional guarantee of a professional, third-party revision of each project. All too often, other companies use one tried-and-trusted linguist and then just forward the end result to the client. Often, that person is not even on the premises, but only known to the agency by email! And even if they should happen to be properly qualified, who is to guarantee that they are not having an off day? Four eyes simply see more than two, and G.Brunner revises every project, large or small, carefully to ensure that the high quality standards which the company owner, Mr Brunner, has set himself, are met. Often, the owner himself reads through the finished job before sending it to the client personally. The “revision guarantee” is not an empty promise, but the best guarantee for receiving an acceptable end result.

Just as important as the quality of the finished product is customer service, and that is where GB Translation Agency gets out vote as the overall winner. Only a few people manage the business of this language service, and they seem to be always available by phone or email, fast to deal with enquiries and generate quotes, and if something cannot be done in the desired time frame, they are honest enough to tell you straight away. What you see is what you get with this online translations service. On the financial side, there are no hidden costs. Quotes are definitive and tax is always included in the price, unlike other similar businesses. Instead of “fair trade”, this company provides “Fair Translation” services for German – German and many other language combinations. With them, your peace of mind is guaranteed, as all language matters can be outsourced to reliable persones who know how to treat their clients.

We hope that after reading our “Top 3” above, you know who to contact for your next project. 🙂

Have you ever outsourced work to one of our “three winning companies”? Which aspect of their work did you like the most? Let us know in the comments!


Remember when you were at university doing your translation degree. Remember your teachers telling you about the holy grail of translation, the monolingual dictionary?

Monolingual dictionaries, was the reasoning, are much more useful than bilingual dictionaries because they help the translator really understand what a thing is about, by describing the term in question rather than just offering a couple of translations into the target language, without any context to explain them, and thus, they can mislead a translator and you and up using a completely wrong word?


I have not believed this from day one, although some of my colleagues bought into the myth and swore by their monolinguals. That is, their big, fat Collins dictionaries or whatever.

I have refused monolingual dictionaries from day one, and here I am, ten years in the business as a successful translator (even if I say so myself). But I had a nostalgic moment today and suddenly remembered how monolingual dictionaries were sold to us at translators’ school, and how they were made out to be somehow the purer form of the art, as opposed to the linguistic fast food crap that a bilingual dictionary was. Instant lookup of the translation term? How rude!

Have you ever really used monolingual dictionaries, and do they translate to the age of the internet? Maybe I got it all completely wrong? Let’s talk mono and bi in the comments.



After another year fighting it out (and collaborating) with the agencies and freelancers in the translation business, the time has come for a summer break.
Off to Lanzarote with the girlfriend tomorrow… (And with her whole family, but that’s another story :-)) So how does a translator spend his holiday? Rent quads, cycle along the coast, or try to put on a bit of a tan? Yes, quite possibly.

Bring the notebook? Quite definitely not. While I admit that I will probably carry my all singing-all dancing smartphone to check my emails every few days, if I can have the discipline to stick to that rhythm (an auto-responder is set up with a picture of me, on the island), more serious hardware stays at home. Just to make sure it’s not only unlikely, but actually impossible for me to work.

So thanks for reading, I shall be off to enjoy my holidays, and you enjoy yours, whenever you decide to take them and wherever they may take you (unless you’re on a permanent vacation, that is).

Do you usually manage to completely disconnect and stick to that Check your emails twice a week routine? Any ideas for putting your business on hold, while on holidays? Let us know in the


I should be lying on the beach by now instead of fighting it out with translation agencies…

First of all, dear readers, sorry not to have posted anything for a while. I’ve been too busy with- you guessed it… translations!

Today, I received an email from a translation agency for an IT translation over the weekend. I wasn’t too bothered about it so I made a proposal. The following row ensued (see this link) – you’ll only be able to see it if you are a member of Translatorscafe, though. Please follow it and say what you think, you can use comments on this page or write directly in the forum. Makes for a good read… Which is why… we make all this effort to market our services ourselves instead of having to deal with agencies like them!

Any other experiences like that when working for agencies guys? I’m glad I distanced myself from most of them by now… and today, got rid of one more!! Let us hear some stories in the comments

This is a guest post by Johannes Moe, of Moe Rental, about why he chose professional translation after years of messing around with online tools. OK, so we’re mentioned favorably, so don’t blame us for a bit of publicity 🙂

english translation do-it-yourself

Like many of us, I used to swear by online translation tools and dictionaries like Google Translator, etc. Whatever I had to translate for my business, I did it myself. Even if I could barely speak German, I insisted on stitching together my own linguistic masterpiece, literally from bits and pieces: a bit of my own German, some sentences translated by the Google Translator, a little bit of help from my friends/the other people in my office, etc. The result was sometimes good, sometimes passable, but more often than not well below par. So why the refusal to use professional translator services? You guessed it: I did not want to spend the money. Until one day when my business partner left a contract on my desk, which had to be translated for the following day. There was no time to go the DIY route this time. So I reluctantly pulled Google search up and started scanning online translation agencies.

After comparing quotes from LinguaTrans and MyGengo, I ultimately settled on G.Brunner Translations, who I thought offered the best guarantee of quality combined with a decent price. Firstly, I was surprised at how cheap it really was, certainly much less than the amount I had feared spending for so long, and secondly, I must admit it was much more efficient. For a modest fee, I found the text in my inbox the next day. Admittedly I had to pay a surcharge due to the last-minute nature of that particular job, but even so it was affordable for my company.

When I opened the received file, I was pleasantly surprised: Not only did they preserve the format, but I received the document as the same file type and with the same file name except for the suffix “DE” (for “DEUTSCH” as in “German”). Perfect for one-click file managing. And when you consider how much time and money I saved on resources (my and my co-worker’s precious time and productivity), it actually hardly cost me anything more than the DIY method. I have since established a positive collaboration with the above, and on occasions, other translation agencies, and I have never looked back. So my business advice for today is, even if at first sight it seems to be an unnecessary expense, leave translation to the professionals. You’ll be rewarded for higher efficiency and productivity increase, and you’ll be able to get on with the work that you’re supposed to do.

From 2010, clients will find a new translation payment system on our website. Instead of having to pay by international bank transfer, which for some may be connected to high costs, you will be able to pay directly on the page by credit card. Just like when booking a flight online. The exact procedure, if you choose this payment method: As soon as we have finished the translation of your document, we will send you a preview of the document in German or English, along with a link to the payment page, to your e-mail address. Upon payment you will find the translated document in your inbox. What do you think of this new system? Tell us about it in the comments.