Career as a Professional Translator


Spanish translation is an ancient activity, but Spanish translators have hardly ever been granted the respect that creators of original works receive. They have always been disregarded as minor figures and mere adjuncts of the authors they translate. That they enjoy such an unimportant status is partly the fault of Spanish translators themselves. Spanish translation has never been regarded as a full-fledged profession in itself; it has never been the end but always the means to an end. In other words, the professional side of Spanish translation has been more or less non-existent. The translators have also been content with this kind of derivative status and have never fought to earn a true recognition for their efforts. They have often worked under conditions of minimum pay, their contribution has never been recognized, yet they often have to exercise a kind of creativity that is beyond the capacity of a monolingual author or writer.


However, the changing nature of the world with a constant exchange between nations in all fields including international relations, technology, trade and commerce has thrust translators to the forefront. So much material is being translated nowadays, that our age has often been dubbed the ‘age of “translation”. According to reports published in the UNESCO´s Index Translationum, an annual bibliography which records the number of significant translations undertaken worldwide, that number has increased from approximately 9,000 in 1948 to 41,000 in 1971.

Translation as a Professional Career

This increase has been accompanied by an improvement in the status of translators. Coordinating bodies have been established on behalf of translators, for example, FIT (International Federation of Translators), a European body, TAALS (American Association of Language Specialists) and the Translation Committee of the American Center of the International PEN, and the American Translators Association. These bodies conduct annual meetings, conferences, publish important findings in the field of translation studies and have their own accreditation programs (ATA). Translators have also their own international journal known as Babel.

The Conference on Literary Translation held in New York in 1970 sponsored by PEN produced a “Manifesto of Translation”, which drew attention to the unacknowledged role played by translators in the dissemination of civilization. The manifesto also stressed the need to introduce translation studies as a formal discipline in universities. As a result, translation is being taught at many universities and colleges.

Controversy still dogs the field of Spanish translation, and the status of translators. Yet, today, translators might find that their services are in great demand by the government of various countries, by multinational corporations and their subsidiaries, by importers and exporters, by commercial nonprofit research institutions. They may also expect to receive a good pay for work done, though rates can vary from country to country.

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