A great majority of the translators and interpreters in the United States work on a freelance basis. The data of The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average pay is $45,430 per annum. The competition in the field is severe mainly because the entry barrier is low. Many bilingual people apply for translation jobs thinking that just being bilingual is a competitive advantage. It is indeed, but it is not the only one and it is not enough to make you a perfect translator. Besides from being bilingual or fluent in a second language, the best translators have a previous background in a specific field such as engineering, chemistry, law, medicine, etc. which add serious value to their resume. Next to that, they are also familiar with some of the most-used translation tools that save time and increase the quality of the translation.
Nowadays, technology is here to stay, and it is literally everywhere around us. The translation profession does not make an exception of this rule. The computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools are blooming in the professional translation world. However, the question of using such tools raised serious discussions within the business. Some translators believe the CAT tools are appropriate only of specific types of translations. Others, on the other hand, are afraid that take precedence over the human translations.
Contrary to the popular belief, CAT tools have nothing to do with machine translations. Computer-assisted translation tools offer numerous functionalities that supplement the professional translator’s everyday workflow.
To begin with, any CAT tool is able to create and manage the so-called translation memory (TM). Such a memory reduces the translation time significantly by allowing the translator to reuse existing strings of texts which have already been translated before. The TM stores all the strings in an internal database which gathers on-going translated content. Therefore, the translator can go back to it when needed reducing the need to repeat himself/herself. Before the beginning of the translation process, the TM analyses the source document to estimate the total word count and provide costing. The CAT tools are useful not only for the translator but for the reviewer/editor as well as he can just continue the upkeep of the consistency. If the regular translator is on holidays or unavailable for some reason, the TM and glossary will always be at your disposal for reference.
In addition to that, a great majority of the CAT tools nowadays offer built-in quality assurance solutions, such as auto-correct, grammar and format errors, missing words and tags, etc. It saves a considerable amount of time as the translator work his way through the task, and the project manager, at a later stage, cleans up the project quite quickly.
Furthermore, CAT tools can significantly reduce the turnaround times and provide high-quality translations which is essential in the business. It also increases the productivity of the translator who do not lose valuable time to translate one and the same content several times.
CAT tools offer another competitive advantage when it comes to updates as well. In many translations, such as software manuals for example, there is a constant need of updating content with each new product release. The CAT tool automatically identifies new content, so the translator does not need to spend tremendous amount of time to go through the files one by one and update the content piece by piece.
The main aim of the CAT tools is to make the translation process easier. According to many translators familiar with such tools, they guarantee high quality and assure consistency of terminology through their TM. CAT tools also decrease the amount of manual entry work thanks to the pre-loaded grammar and orthographic checkers. However, many professionals argue that use of such tools is limited to specific types of translations – technical, financial, or any other kind of content that has a large number of repeated words/phrases. When it comes to translating novels, books, or any other literary texts, the CAT tools may not be that effective, although they can be helpful as well.