Bilingual? Morph your language skills into a rewarding career

Sep 17 2016, 5:36 am

Are you one of more than 300,000 people living in Vancouver who speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, or Chinese? Or maybe you’re among the 45,000 Korean speakers, or 35,000 Spanish speakers?

If you are, and can speak and write as fluently in English as in your native tongue, translation and interpretation can be a flexible and lucrative way to earn a little extra income on the side – or open up a whole new career.

Just ask Zhang Tian Yi (Tia). Fluent in Mandarin and English, Tia translates documents for Canadian companies doing business overseas, and localizes Chinese websites for the Canadian market. What started as a way to supplement her family’s income has evolved into a full-time freelance career.

A native of China, Tia started her career in France. When she moved to Vancouver, she discovered a highly competitive translation market. “To succeed in Vancouver as a translator, you need credentials to differentiate yourself,” explains Tia.



Tia graduated from the UBC Certificate in Translation and Interpretation (Chinese/English)Not only did she learn modern translation techniques, she learned what she needed to stand out in a crowded market: cultural sensitivity, cultural fluency, strong ethics, and the ability to build trust with clients. She also gained valuable industry contacts, and plans to write the certified translators exam.

A good translation and interpretation program also exposes you to many different forms of translation, so you can get a feel for what kind of work is the best fit for you and the areas you may want to specialize in.

Once trained, opportunities for translators abound: copywriting, technical or scientific translation, business, legal, or judicial translation, literary translation, closed captioning and subtitle translation, plus more.

Not only this, but when you’re a translator, you aren’t restricted to working only in your own city, or from one location. It’s a great career to choose if you wish to work from home or are often on the road. Working online allows you to make the world your market, work to your own schedule, and take your office with you wherever you go.

UBC Continuing Studies offers translation and interpretation programs for people fluent in English plus Korean, Chinese, Spanish, or Japanese. Find out more about UBC’s translation and interpretation programs and start filling that skills gap so you can finally  become a translator or interpreter. 

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