The Profession

Members of the South African Translators’ Institute are involved in translation, interpreting, text editing, proofreading, text review, copywriting, terminology work and lexicography.

We use the umbrella term language practice for these activities. Some members may do only one type of work, e.g. translation, while others may be involved in a variety of work, e.g. translation, interpreting, text editing, proofreading and copywriting. Being proficient in one aspect of language practice does not necessarily mean a person will be good at another, which is the reason some members specialise. Do not assume that because someone is a good translator they will also be a good interpreter! The skills are very different and not everyone can master both.

The term translation can also be used as an umbrella term for both written translation and oral translation, although the latter is generally referred to as interpreting.

There is a great need for language services in South Africa, but the public is not well-informed about the advantages of using a language professional. Many people undervalue the work of translators and other language practitioners, and translations are often performed by people who are not suitably qualified (such as administrative personnel).

New entrants to the profession should, however, not expect to enter the freelance market and be flooded with work immediately. It takes years to build up a successful practice, and many people start on a part-time basis until their client base is large enough to support a full-time practice. There is a huge untapped market for language services, if potential clients can be educated and convinced of the need for these services.

Read the pamphlet below Becoming a Language Practitioner for information on entering the profession.

You will find information on other aspects of the profession in the other tabs under the What we do menu.

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