Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

For information on partnering with, please contact us.

Explaining 'Globalization and Localization'

There's a good chance you've never heard of the Globalization and Localization industry, yet it's an important industry, with it's own Globalization and Localization Association industry trade group 

If you've taken the time and done the study to become a linguist (or are thinking you might like to do that) below is information about the industry from Hans Fenstermacher, CEO of the trade association. He speaks for the language industry as a whole:
1. What training/education usually is necessary to work in this field?
Linguistic jobs require fluency in the source and target languages, which is based on years of language study. Top linguists in our industry typically have professional training at language schools and in translation and interpretation programs, and being tech-savvy is a prerequisite for almost everyone in the language business. Most of us in the trade are "power users" of technology; it's in our DNA, and many of the biggest clients for the industry are high-tech companies, like Adobe, Dell, and HP, who set a high bar for language localization skills. The best kind of "training" for the language business still comes in the form of professional on-the-job experience. 

2. What different kinds of jobs are there in this industry?
Language-based jobs include translator, interpreter, editor, linguistic quality assurance manager, and terminologist, among others. Project managers often aren't linguists at all, since they are responsible for workflow, resource allocation, communications, scheduling, and troubleshooting. Account managers generally coordinate the interface with the client and project teams, scope, budgets, and more. There are also technology-intensive jobs, such as localization engineer, tester, and machine-translation specialist. Since the vast majority of translated content is formatted in some way, there are jobs in this area as well: desktop publisher, web specialist, graphic illustrator, and so on. Finally, there are numerous other business-centric jobs, including tasks like vendor manager (to recruit, train, and evaluate project resources) and IT specialist (to build, set up, and maintain the numerous multilingual environments and databases that are required). Like any business, the language business also requires numerous professionals in areas like finance, sales, management, etc. Linguistic jobs (especially translators and interpreters) are just about the only jobs that are done by individual freelancers around the world; most of the other jobs are full-time, although some (like desktop publishing) may be outsourced or offshore to specialized or lower-cost companies around the world.

3.What qualifications are necessary? Does just the ability to speak languages sometimes work?
For translation work, knowledge of several languages is a minimum requirement, but is not really enough. Translators need to have experienced translation skills (which is different from just "speaking" two languages), and they usually have to have specialized subject-matter expertise. A literary translator could not begin to translate a technical manual for an oil refinery, for example, without some specialized knowledge, terminology, and experience. Most translation work also involves the use of software tools, so advanced technology expertise comes into play: knowledge of Translation Memory software, terminology databases, content management systems, machine translation, and more. Interpreters usually use less technology; on the other hand, simultaneous interpreters (those who work in booths) must have a vast vocabulary at their fingertips and be able to think in two languages at the same time, which comes only from professional training and practice.

4. When and why did this industry suddenly begin to boom? What are some statistics on that? How does GALA help those seeking jobs? 
The language industry has been steadily booming for some time. Ours was the original offshored industry. Remember: in the early 1990s Ireland became the largest exporter of software in the world, largely on the strength of the language localization offices high-tech giants like Microsoft and Oracle set up there. As an industry, though we have for decades gone in-country to get the linguistic expertise we need. Since the Internet exploded in the mid-1990s, the language business has been at the forefront of global commerce. Suddenly, every business was facing global competition and had to step up their language game. With the rapid development of the Web and translation software tools in the past 10 years, the industry has seen a huge rise in jobs that require a combination of skills in language, technology, business and more. Most of the training is done on the job right now, because job-seekers' skills are lagging behind the need. But GALA is exploring the development of a "talent initiative" in 2013 to address this skills gap. And we offer a service at where language-industry job seekers and employers can find each other.

Hire and Retain Right People

Don't Procrastinate--Work!