Monday, March 30, 2020

5 Alternative Careers to Professional Translation during the COVID-19 Pandemic by Ofer Tirosh

The global language services industry has grown from a value of US$23.5 billion in 2009 to $46.9 billion in 2019. Statista projects that it will reach a value of $56.18 billion by 2021. As such, there are plenty of opportunities to make money based on speaking more than one language. That doesn’t necessarily mean providing professional translation services; a wide range of jobs exist that allow you to use your language skills every day. Here are five examples to get you thinking. 

Medical translator and interpreter 

Medical translator jobs and medical interpreter jobs are another excellent choice for those looking to work with languages but in an alternative career to translation. And with the world currently in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, there is an unprecedented need for medical facts and discoveries to be shared between countries swiftly and accurately. This is important both for monitoring COVID-19 and in the race to find a vaccine. 

A medical translator converts documents of a medical nature from one language to another. These could be anything from research papers to individual medical histories. 

A medical interpreter interprets between medical professionals and their patients. A medical interpreter could also interpret

between one healthcare professional and another, for example as a means of sharing medical best practice between countries. 

Medical interpretation is a highly skilled job, requiring the interpreter to have an in-depth knowledge of a huge range of medical terminology. It’s a role that can be incredibly emotionally demanding as well. Could you face delivering the news to a patient that they have a life-limiting illness? 

On the flip side, working as a medical interpreter can also be immensely rewarding, as your work can contribute both to individual patients’ experience of the healthcare system and to the ‘greater good.’

Video game tester

A video game tester career is an interesting choice for those who speak multiple languages. What does a video game tester do? Tests video games! Beta testing allows game developers to identify bugs and to ensure that games are appropriately localized for all of the countries/regions at which they are aimed. 

Let’s say you work as a Spanish translator. If you already undertake Spanish to English translation or English to Spanish translation, then you’re well-positioned to work with game developers who are looking to publish their game in both of these languages. Of course, a natural aptitude for and enjoyment of video games will also be a major plus point if you’re aiming for this kind of work! 

Multilingual content writer

If you’re looking for something less emotionally taxing than medical interpretation, then working as a multilingual content writer could be the role for you. You’ll need top-notch writing skills, of course, as well as the flexibility to turn your hand to everything from social media campaigns and blog posts to websites and white papers. 

Content marketing is big business. Statista reports that 12% of industry professionals publish six or more items of marketing content every week, while a further 24% published two to three pieces of content each week. Finding reliable clients with long-term content marketing strategies, therefore, presents a wealth of opportunities. 


How good are your typing skills? If you have an eye for detail and can work efficiently, then transcription is an excellent alternative career to professional translation. You can transcribe in your native language or your second language. 

One of the key benefits of working as a transcriptionist is that the setup costs are fairly minimal. Once you have a foot pedal and a laptop set up, you’re ready to start marketing your services – simple! 


If you speak two or more languages and want to share your passion for them as part of your career, then becoming a language teacher makes sense. You can teach online or offline, to children or adults, part-time or fulltime. This makes teaching a particularly flexible career choice, as you can fit it around any other commitments that you already have. 

If you’re planning to teach in schools, then you will need to undertake appropriate training. In many countries seeking to drive up teaching standards or struggling to deal with an understaffed education system, a ‘golden handshake’ means that you can receive payment for training, as well as learning the skills you need for your future career. 

Final thought: don’t forget about translation!

Many of the careers above can be considered either instead of working for a translation company or alongside such work. If you decide to stick with translation as well as adding an alternative career path to your CV, then go for a specialism. These vary enormously – as the examples below show. 

Legal translator

A legal translator converts legal documents from one language to another. Accuracy is of paramount importance. 

Literary translator

Literary translators spend their time converting novels, poetry, plays and the suchlike into other languages. 

Both of these translation disciplines include working with language but in quite different ways. As such, if you’re already working in translation and considering alternatives, remember to think about different kinds of translation too. Finding out how to become a certified Spanish translator, for example, could provide just the kind of new focus that you need, without a complete change of career. Just a thought! 

Ofer Tirosh is the CEO of Tomedes. He is an author who focuses on linguistics and the importance of foreign language in globalization and localization.


  1. Covid-19 has indeed changed so much of what people used to refer as normal. I guess life won't be the same again. Am afraid some jobs, businesses and professions could be a thing of opinion though.

  2. What an interesting post which encourages us to think about more and more ways in which one could provide their individualised language skills to service users of various client markets. Ultimately, being able to help in any way possible during the current pandemic, no matter how big or how small the action is will truly make a difference. So, if you consider the role of translation and interpreting within the field of medicine and health care, access to translators and interpreters of this discipline remains a necessity.

    With this in mind, medical translation is a key specialist area within Stealth Translations and we have been able to assist a number of our customers who are involved in care for those who are both directly and indirectly affected by the pandemic.

    Thank you for such a timely post.

  3. This is very good information, but in order to be good in medical, legal or any other translation of documents you will need to have a good professional knowledge of these specific areas, because if you don't you risk to give very bad translation services.