Guest post: Tips for Getting Started as a Tech Translator


I’m happy to present a guest blog post for translators and interpreters who are getting started in their careers featuring Tianci Hu Marrero (Iggee) and Tips to Get Started as a Tech Translator

Iggee is a full-time freelance translator and software developer based in New York. In the 7 years of her career, she has worked on numerous tech translation projects such as blockchain whitepaper, software localization, optical hardware, and API documentation.

tech translation


Many of us became translators because we love languages. We love languages because we are into literature - the artsy side of things, like reading Moby Dick in English or jumping on the Rimbaud train. When I started out as a translator in 2016, I did not imagine myself working on materials that have anything to do with tech. Just translating UI strings for a game made me feel out of my depth. 

I was in my first year of translating. The project was an API document. I convinced myself that there is nothing a few googling sessions can’t fix. As it turned out, I spent 4 gruesome days navigating indecipherable sites, hoping to get validation for every single sentence I wrote. I turned the project in - the client did not complain, yet the experience taught me a most valuable lesson about professionalism. 

After that job, I took an oath never to take jobs I am not comfortable with. More importantly, it spurred me to start learning more about computer science and led to my career as a programmer. If you want to choose a specialization, I believe my experience transitioning to tech will be of service.

Here are things I recommend you do if you want to become a tech translator.


  1. Learn during your off time. 

Learning what you need to know when you are already on the project is helpful, but it is often too little too late. If you know you want to specialize in tech, it is time to utilize your off-time. Depending on your schedule, you can start a full-on educational journey, or simply read one or two tech blogs a day. When you persist, the result will surprise you. 

If you want to go on a full educational journey, start here:

  • Harvard open course CS50: This introductory course covers basic CS concepts like programming languages, database operations, and lower-level computing. It will give you a good technical foundation and equip you for researching higher-level tech concepts. 


If you want to brush up on tech industry buzzwords, start here:

  • Many tech industry professionals write on Medium and the ideas expressed there are often more nuanced and specific than in large-scale publications. This is how I would use the site: if I want to read up on ChatGPT, I simply type in “ChatGPT” and find one article that interests me. When reading through the article, I research all the unfamiliar keywords. For example, as I read I asked Chat GPT to build a To-Do app — Have we finally met our replacement? I researched keywords like “in-memory storage” and “Copilot”.
  1. When on the job, know your resources.

When you run into an unfamiliar technical term and you cannot be sure that the translation fits the context, you can actually ask for help from tech-industry people at, Quora or Reddit. (Try “Explain Bitcoin to me like I’m five years old”, people are happy to respond to that!) Stackoverflow is also a great place to cross-reference terms and check for contexts, as it contains millions of specific technical questions. Words that show up often with the term-in-question can help you navigate your search in your non-English target text.

When you are translating into a language other than English, you can seek out online programmer communities in your respective country. For example, is a Chinese developers’ forum where you can look up terms & ask questions.

Apart from these websites, you can also utilize’s wonderful KudoZ feature. If you are unsure, you can use Tech Forums to reach out to fellow translators on who list Tech/IT as their specialized field. Don’t let any term or sentence go unchecked!

  1. Get out of your comfort zone, but not at the expense of quality.

Most of us probably have received project offers where the sample source text seemed a little cryptic. I believe you should take projects that are out of your comfort zone. However, it is good to know where to draw the line. My rule of thumb is that if you feel overwhelmed looking at the text and the feeling does not recede after 2-3 google searches, don’t take it. Clients will always appreciate your honesty. Handing in a translation that cannot be properly understood by the technical users in the target language is a big drawback to both the clients and your reputation.

  1.  Inform your clients about your new specialization.

When you start to feel more comfortable with an area of the tech industry, don’t hesitate to email your existing clients. Likely, you filled out a form stating your domains when you first registered with a client. Let them know when you can handle a Blockchain whitepaper or an internal IT document!

If you are seeking new clients, don’t forget to mention your specialization as a tech translator. This will remind them to reach out to you when an appropriate project comes along. As translators, we all have several fields we work frequently in. You can research the client on their website. If they have a lot of clients in the tech industry, tell them tech is your focus!

  1. Do not hyper-specialize.

There are many subsidiary fields to tech. You can work in blockchain, software development, academic computer science, developer relations, and AI, but workloads from these domains ebb and flow. I love translating academic text in computer science, but really, how many computer science textbooks are out there to be translated? For example, 2021 and 2022 were boom years for blockchain, but that trend died down in 2023. There will probably be a lot of AI-related work in 2023, and as tech translators, we should be flexible and meet such demands. To do so, it is important to keep learning and inform your clients about your new specializations.


In conclusion, starting out as a tech translator is challenging. With the right tools and persistence, you can become a subject matter expert in several tech subdomains. Surprisingly, despite the prevalence of tech, not many translators are qualified to handle tech-related translations. It is a rewarding field to establish yourself in. Best of luck!


Thanks for sharing this post with us, Iggee!

For those interested in learning more about this topic, be sure to check out the upcoming workshop—an Insider's Guide to Terminology, Concepts and How to Get Clients.


Topics: translation, guest post, technology, bitcoin, tech translaiton, ChatGPT

Helen Shepelenko

Written by Helen Shepelenko

Helen is the training manager. She has been with since 2009.

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