1.4 Know the Different Jobs in the Translation Industry


Translators are the most prominent professionals in the industry. However, a number of other professionals work hard every day to make translation projects possible.

It is very common for freelance translators to assume other roles in the industry during the course of their careers. Some professionals actually assume more than a single role. Project Managers, for instance, may moonlight as freelancer translators in the evenings and weekends.

So, it is worth learning about the main roles in the industry, along with their respective duties.


Work with “document translation.” There are hundreds of thousands of translators around the world. The vast majority work as freelance translators. In-house translators represent a very small percentage of the professionals. That’s why our guide focuses mostly on freelance translators.


Work with interpretation, which means “oral translation” (most clients will wrongly refer to an interpreter as a translator. Interpretation services may be provided live in the client site or over the phone/skype/etc.


Editors will revise the translation provided by the translator. They may improve the quality of the writing, although their main goal is to work on the terminology chosen by the translator. Terminology, particularly technical terms, may be appropriate and consistently used throughout the documents.


Proofreaders will usually work last on a document. Their role is to make sure there are no remaining glitches on a document so it can be delivered to a client. When graphical work is required on a document being translated, proofreaders will work on the translated documents only after it is completed.

Project Managers

A central component of the translation industry. Project managers are the amalgam for all the people working on a translation project. They will receive a project straight from the client or the business developer and assign all the resources required to have it completed. Project managers work crazy hours to connect people in different countries. They are usually held accountable for the success or failure of a project. Because of that, project managers are usually the ones choosing who works with them or not.

Business Developers (or sales professionals)

Business developers are also known as account managers. Their main mission is to sell translation projects to clients and prospective clients.

Few clients in the translation industry have a good understanding of how translation works. Most clients will not grasp how much work is required for a professional translation to be completed.

The main challenge for translation business developers is to educate clients without scaring them off. Clients don’t like to be said a deadline or a target-rate is impossible. Good business developers can guide translation clients to get the most from their budget without compromising quality.


A typesetter works on a translated document to make sure the content fits the original document design. Some languages are wordier than others. As a result, the translated text will usually differ in size. A document with 100 pages in English, for instance, may have 120 pages when translated to Portuguese or Spanish. Editing text, resizing text placeholders, and handling the whole “adaptation” process is one of the typesetter’s roles.


DTPists are professionals working with Desktop Publishing. Desktop Publishing is a term created to mean publishing work done “through a computer desktop”. DTPists may do the work of typesetters plus work with images (conversions, OCR, etc.).

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers focus on the graphic aspects of the DTP. They may create images from scratch or by combining existing images. Some graphic designers will provide concepts or templates for website development, as well.

Localization Engineers

Localization engineers will work on the technical aspects of larger translation projects. They may help translators and project managers with translation tools such as WordFast and Trados. Localization engineers are involved in more complex software and website translation. They also help with challenges such as converting currencies, dates, and measurement units in a project.

User Interface Testers

Testing a translation is required mainly for software translation. When software is translated, not only language is changed. Other changes may occur depending on the target end-user. How software is sold and delivered changes dramatically around the world. The needs that a software fulfills may also change. Because of such changes, it is key that the end-product is thoroughly tested to make sure both translations and interface adaptations look right from a user perspective.

Exact Instructions

Or see index for the Ultimate Guide for Becoming a Freelance Translator.

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