To be a good translator you need to be conversant with all the basic word processing software. A few years ago it was sufficient for translators to know Microsoft Word, Excel and Power Point. However, in this day and age, translation service providers must have some desktop publishing knowledge. When working for agencies, they will expect proficiency in working with CAT tools, like SDL TRADOS, and others. However, computer-assisted translation tools only come into their own when you work with lots of similar texts. If you work mainly for direct clients (private individuals and small to medium size companies) you’ll get so many different types of terminology, that CAT tools are struggling to earn their keep.
The time to hone your typing skills is at the beginning of your career as a freelance translator. The ability to touch type will save you enormous amounts of time and pain.
Where does the pain factor come in? After working in translation for thirty years and having to look down on the keyboards to “see where you’re going”, you will be using your neck vertebrae and discs to a high degree. Thus increasing your chances of suffering from degenerative disease.
Handling IT emergencies
As a freelance translator it is very important to know how to solve IT problems. You are in the middle of an urgent translation job, your computer crashes/your internet connection disappears. What do you do? Do you have a back-up plan? Do you know how to get access to the technology you need at short notice?
Establish contact with an IT professional before you find yourself in need of one right in the middle of a translation job with a tight deadline. Know where you can go if your own Internet connection fails. Is there a friendly neighbour, a small business nearby that can accommodate you in an emergency? Make a plan, so you have back-up when you need it.