Careers in the Global Language Industry

In our fast-growing sector, talent is always needed and people with a variety of educational and professional backgrounds are valued. Across many business verticals, global language professionals occupy diverse roles ranging from CEOs to software developers, translators to sales managers, interpreters to consultants, and many more.

Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source language text into the target language text. Translators working in the localization industry bring specific expertise to their role. They are often deeply knowledgeable about a specific industry like travel, automotive, healthcare and sciences, for instance, and they are well versed in the use of computer-aided translation (CAT) software that helps them ensure efficiency in the translation process and consistency in the translation. Translators can work as freelancers, they can be employed by translation agencies, or by global businesses that that prefer to do their translation work in-house. 

Interpretation is the process of rendering a spoken or signed message into another spoken or signed language, preserving the meaning and intent of the source language. Interpreters often work for hospitals, at conferences, for the legal and government sectors, and also in institutions of higher learning. With the advancement of communications technologies and interpreting-specific technologies, interpreters can increasingly deliver their services remotely with the help of software.  

Project managers are responsible for planning and executing a project which is typically defined as an undertaking with a defined scope, as well as a defined start and end time. In the localization industry, project managers must have a good understanding of the localization process and the stakeholder ecosystem. They must bring excellent time and self management skills, and have a solid understanding of the risks associated with their projects. Increasingly, project managers in the localization industry must be comfortable working in agile environments and hence bring agile project management skills as well. 

Localization engineering is responsible for converting one thing (be it a website or a document, an app or a software tool) from one language to another. The responsibility of a localization engineer often entails separating localizable from non-localizable strings, identifying problems in the source code that may prevent proper localization, and readying files for hand-off to the translation team. They also receive localized strings back and integrate them into a localized build or version of whatever tool or app their organization is working on. The source materials that an organization uses often come in a wide variety of technical formats. In fact, in many large companies, different groups use different technical formats and a localization engineer must be able to work with anything that is handed off to them with a deep level of technical confidence, experience, and expertise.

Internationalization is a design process that ensures that a product can be adapted to various languages and regions without requiring engineering changes to the source code. If an app, software tool, or website is properly internationalized, it is easily localized. Internationalization engineering is one of the more specialized positions in the localization industry. Internationalization engineers are often part of a preemptive initiative by an organization to pre-screen for localization pertinent features, functions, content, code and other information in order to design for localization in advance.  They have deep knowledge of character encoding and Unicode enablement, understand global date and time formats, and how to support bidirectional languages. They also understand a company's design process and are often the first to point out flaws in a design that will lead to poor reception of a solution in a specific market. 

The role of a tester or quality assurance professional is to ensure that any localized product — be it a website, a game, an app or an online marketing campaign — works as well in the target language as it does in the source language. In the localization industry, a difference is made between a software and a linguistic tester. A software tester is responsible for testing the overall functionality of a product or content, runs software builds, and records bugs in bug tracking databases including problems with internationalization, incorrect currencies, country standards, etc. They often rely on automatic testing software to see how the app performs across multiple platforms and devices. A linguistic or language tester is responsible for the linguistic quality of the product or content and checks work received from language service providers. They often work as revisers and use automatic QA tools to detect errors, flag them, and calculate quality scores, or determine if the work should be re-routed back to the language provider for corrections.

In the localization industry, sales and account management positions are uniquely located with language service providers. Sales efforts can be divided into those that develop new business and those that cultivate and nurture existing business. Sales managers, also called hunters, find prospects, create new relationships, and bring in fresh accounts to the company. Account managers grow existing business. Since client relationships are already established, the main objective of an account manager is to keep the accounts active and bring in new projects and revenue opportunities.