Skill Requirements for Translators

This skill list is of course probably idealistic as you have no real control over the skills that volunteers will bring to your project.

Essential attributes summary

  • Mother tongue speaker
  • Passionate about their language
  • Computer experience

Nice to have:

  • Graduate qualification: Computer Science, linguistics, language

Essential skills explained

Mother tongue speaker

Many people say they are proficient in multiple languages. Some people are, most people aren’t. The problem with people with multi-language skills is that they often do not have access to a deep understanding of either language. And a deep understanding is what you need if you want to find words that can be reused in a different way in a computer translation. So treat the polyglot with caution until proved otherwise.


This may seem redundant but a person who is passionate about their language is much less likely to say well there isn’t a word for “Proxy Server” and is more likely to understand the need for a good and extensive translation.

Computer experience

Someone who has no computer experience will not have the best understanding of words used differently in the computer world – words such as ‘execute’ and ‘run’. But a BSc is also not needed. You need someone who can comfortably use a computer they can always lookup difficult words in online computer dictionaries.

Graduate qualifications

This is a nice skill to have especially when defining terminology that requires a deep understanding of language, etimology and computer usage and definitions.