Category Archives: Interpreting

A follow-up on 50 Best Jobs (book)

I received a letter from Dr. Laurence Shatkin today. Dr. Shatkin is one of the authors of the book titled 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality, 2nd edition (JIST Publishing). In short, he explained that he had to base his book on the Department of Labor’s SOC (Standard Occupational Taxonomy). Because Dr. Shatkin’s letter is both gracious and professional in tone, the least I can do is to include excerpts from it:

The most important limitation is that I must rely on career information databases from the Department of Labor to provide information on the hundreds of occupations that I put into my books, and those databases sometimes lump together occupations that you or I might prefer to be defined separately. For example, although the government’s official Standard Occupational Taxonomy (SOC) recognizes one occupation called Accountants and Auditors, the O*NET database (which is what I used for the personality types in 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality) splits this into two separate occupations. Sadly, with Interpreters and Translators, both SOC and the O*NET keep these two titles lumped together. The O*NET does not provide separate information on their personality types or on any other characteristics or requirements.

What results is an average. I would guess, although I do not have any data on hand, that there are more interpreters than translators. (I’d appreciate hearing from you about whether this is true). This would explain why Social is the second personality type listed as the average for this combined occupation, although a translator’s work environment is not very social. In fact, translating is probably an excellent occupation for an introverted person.

I should point out that the Department of Labor tends to keep occupations lumped together in cases where the initial stages of the preparation pathway are similar. In the case of Interpreters and Translators, one would start preparing for both of these occupations by becoming knowledgeable about a foreign language. Eventually, one would reach a fork in the road and would decide which occupation is more suitable.

The statement about the type of education/training required is also based on information from the Department of Labor. Most occupations allow a range of preparation routes, and this one (or two, if you prefer!) probably allows a wider range than most. The policy of the Department of Labor is to list the shortest of the possible entry routes, even if it’s not the one most preferable. So, for example, they list associate degree as appropriate for Registered Nurse, even though a nurse without a bachelor’s degree faces severely limited job choices. That’s why “long-term on-the-job training” is listed for Interpreters and Translators.

This open dialogue is encouraging. Care to participate?

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Filed under Bilingualism vs. Translation, Interpreting, Marketing, Professional development, Public Relations, Translator Education

A disservice to career seekers

I am an avid reader. Sometimes you can find me spending 2-4 hours at the local Borders or Barnes & Noble. The practice of perusing the contents of a book before buying it is enhanced by the ability to use the Amazon app on your smartphone and scan the ISBN code for prices, reviews, etc.

This weekend I saved myself almost $30. One of the books I did not buy is titled 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality, 2nd edition, by Michael Farr and Lawerence Shatkin, Ph.D.

I invite you to see it for yourself. Please go to page 260 and read the description for Interpreters and Translators. Court, community, health care interpreters, interpreters for the hearing-impaired and translators are lumped together in this oversimplistic, rushed description of our professions. The personality code AS stands for “Artistic” and “Social.” I have known many social interpreters, but translators are not necessarily your social butterfly. We like to work quietly, with as few distractions as possible, because translation requires a great deal of concentration and intellectual focus.

I recently wrote to the book’s publishing house, JIST Publishing, in Indianapolis, IN, to complain about the serious misconceptions inserted in this shabby description. I also posted a review on Amazon, so it does not bear repeating here. Suffice it to say that prospective students of translation and interpreting in this country will be mislead by reading this inaccurate portrayal of language professionals.

Beyond this pointed complaint of mine, I acknowledge that there is a collective PR campaign that you, I and our fellow interpreters, translators, agency owners and other stakeholders in this industry have to carry out. The floor is open.

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Filed under Bilingualism vs. Translation, Interpreting, Professional development, Translator Education