Career paths

What careers can you have in localization?

Are you interested in any of the following?

  • Translation & foreign language
  • Project management
  • Web development & publishing
  • Business & marketing
  • Public relations & advertising
  • Writing & editing
  • Programming & software development
Here is an overview of some possible career paths in localization:

Client Side—Career Path

  1. Translator/Editor—Language Lead—Project Coordinator—Project Manager—Program Manager/Product Manager--Director/VP of Globalization
  2. Bilingual Customer Support—Bilingual Customer Support Manager—Global Technical Support Director
  3. QA Engineer/Localization Engineer/Internationalization Engineer—Global Production Manager/International Engineering Manager—VP of Globalization/Director

Vendor Side Career Path

  1. Translator/Editor--DTP—Language Lead—Project Coordinator—Project Manager/Vendor Manager—Program Manager/Product Manager—Operations/Production Manager—Owner
  2. Account Manager—Business Development Manager—Manager of Sales--Owner

Definitions

Client Side—Career Path

1. Translator/Editor—Language Lead—Project Coordinator—Project Manager—Program Manager/Product Manager--Director/VP of Globalization

Translator/Editor
Language translation or editing of documentation, manuals, web sites, etc. The translator/editor should have native fluency in the target language. The background of a translator/editor may include a translation degree or ATA (American Translator Association) certification or country equivalent accreditation in a language pair.

Language Lead
If there is a team of translators/editors for one language, companies sometimes assign a language lead to coordinate the work flow, Translation Memory, scheduling and delivery for a particular language. The background of a Language lead may include several years of translation experience, high quality translation/editing ability and demonstrated communication/leadership skills.

Project Coordinator
A project coordinator will use TMS, troubleshoot, and interface with the translation team on a daily basis. The project coordinator typically reports to the Project Manager. The background of a project coordinator may include experience as a translator/editor, and/or a Master’s degree in translation management or strong organizational skills from another industry.

Project Manager
The project manager oversees the translation team and project coordinators, interfaces with external vendors, and oversees work flow and tool implementations. The responsibilities are linked to final and ongoing delivery of projects. Project managers do not typically manage people (performance reviews, etc.) rather they manage projects and processes and supervise activity. The background of a project manager may include several years as a project coordinator, PMP certification (Project Management Professional) and/or a Masters degree in Localization Management.

Program Manager
Program managers manage a team of project managers, do performance reviews and determine overall localization strategy. The program manager may interface with the company's cross-functional teams such as Engineering, Marketing, Customer Service and QA to determine globalization strategy implementation company wide. The background of a Program Manager often includes three to five years as a project manager, strong CAT tools knowledge and the ability to strategize, evangelize and motivate a diverse team.

Director/Vice-President of Globalization
The Director or Vice-President of Globalization oversees the entire globalization team of translators, QA, engineers and Program Managers. The Director/Vice-President may report to the CEO or senior Vice President. The core responsibilities are twofold—ensure the efficient, streamlined success of the globalization team and translate and communicate this success into ROI for the business. The background of a Director/Vice-President may include 7-10 years experience as a program manager, a Masters in Business Administration, strong business acumen, ambition, and excellent process knowledge and people skills.

2. Bilingual Customer Support—Bilingual Customer Support Manager—Global Technical Support Director

Bilingual Customer Support
The bilingual customer support representative is typically hired to interface with end users in the target language to respond to/troubleshoot product issues. Responsibilities include data entry, resolving billing issues, technical problems, shipment delays, and installation issues. The background of a bilingual customer support representative may include a Bachelor’s degree in a technical field and fluency in at least two languages.

Bilingual Customer Support Manager
The bilingual customer support manager typically manages a team of global customer support personnel. The team may be centralized or remote. This manager helps train the customer support representatives, provides scripts to use, and interviews and hires the appropriate personnel. The background of a customer support manager may include a technical degree, some management training and at least 2-4 years of customer support experience.

Global Technical Support Director
The Global Technical Support Director manages a global support team of managers and customer support personnel. The Director may be responsible for the international customer support of up to 50 languages. The location of the team may be centralized in one office or the person may have a remote team worldwide spanning coverage 24-7. The background of a Global Technical Support Director may include 7-10 years of customer support management, a technical degree, an MBA, or management training.

3. QA Engineer/Localization Engineer/Internationalization Engineer—Global Production Manager/International Engineering Manager—VP of Globalization/Director

QA Engineer, Localization Engineer, Internationalization Engineer
  • The QA engineer may do linguistic testing, internationalization testing or localization testing. Linguistic testing involves checking for syntactic, grammatical and cultural correctness for the target language. Internationalization testing includes checking that the software works uniformly across all regions of the world (was properly 'internationalized'). Localization testing includes reviewing the software for a specific country or ‘localized’ region to make sure time, date formats, and currency are adapted correctly. The background of a QA engineer may include a technical degree, bilingual skills and technical aptitude.
  • The localization engineer may do debugging, compiling, CAT tools analysis and implementation and file handoffs. The background of a localization engineer may include a technical degree, bilingual skills and a few years as a localization QA engineer.
  • The internationalization engineer works directly with the code, has programming experience and is familiar with Unicode standards. The background of an internationalization engineer would include a technical degree and/or computer programming courses.

Global Production Manager/International Engineering Manager
The International Engineering manager or Global Production Manager manages a team of QA, localization and internationalization engineers. This person is responsible for the technology side of the globalization process. They choose and implement CAT tools, develop work flows, and oversee scheduling and coordination across teams. The background of this person usually include 5-7 years of experience as a localization engineer or internationalization engineer and management training.

Director/Vice-President of Globalization
The Director or Vice-President of Globalization oversees the entire globalization team of translators, QA, engineers, and program managers. The Director/Vice-President may report to the CEO or senior Vice President. The core responsibilities are twofold—ensure the efficient, streamlined success of the globalization team and translate and communicate this success into ROI for the business. The background of a Director/Vice-President may include 7-10 years experience as a program manager, a Masters in Business Administration, a technical degree, strong business acumen, ambition and excellent process knowledge and people skills.

Vendor Side Career Path

1. Translator/Editor--DTP—Language Lead—Project Coordinator—Project Manager/Vendor Manager—Program Manager/Product Manager—Operations/Production Manager—Owner

Operations/Production Manager
The Operations Manager or Production Manager manages the entire globalization production process for the vendor. They coordinate the scheduling and determine the tools, work flow, MT, and DTP components. This person must have strong people skills, attention to detail and strong production knowledge. The background for this person is 7-10 years in vendor side production including tools implementation, testing and management.

Owner
The owner of a translation company, in addition to knowing the translation/localization industry, must have a solid grasp of the financial aspects and cash flow of the business in order to succeed. Size of companies may vary from a one person outfit, essentially a freelance translator, to a $200 million global company with 50 offices worldwide. The background of an owner should include knowledge of the globalization market and solid work experience in the industry on the sales or production side or both. Lastly, an entrepreneurial spirit is necessary to weather the challenges of the globalization marketplace.

2. Account Manager—Business Development Manager—Manager of Sales--Owner

Account Manager
The Account manager is tasked with growing existing client business. The account manager meets with current clients, evaluates the efficacy of current processes, and reaches out to new managers to grow the business with current accounts. The background of an account manager might be 2-4 years experience as a project coordinator or project manager. An account manager typically is paid a larger base and lower commission.

Business Development Manager
The Business Development Manager is responsible for getting new business for the LSP. The BDM may attend trade shows, do cold calling, make client visits and leverage marketing efforts and contact existing clients. The background of a business development manager may include a localization degree or experience in sales from another industry or previous account management experience. A business development manager is paid a large base with commission potential to double or triple their base pay equivalent.

Owner—(see above)