What does a translation project manager do?

The interesting part about translation project managers is that their job doesn’t always have to do with translation. So if you’re a translator aspiring to become a project manager, it helps to understand that project management involves other exciting stuff of its own. In fact, the requirements necessary to become a translation project manager are rarely related to translation itself.

So what skills do you actually need, and what does the job consist of? We’re here to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to be a translation project manager on a day-to-day basis.

What is a project manager?

The job of a project manager is multifaceted, and revolves around organization, negotiation and supervision above all else. Translation project managers are expected to handle the entire lifecycle of many language translation projects.

Necessary skills

Although a translation degree is not an absolute must, it’s definitely an asset. It will help you understand the job a lot more, and relate to your colleagues. Otherwise, a degree in a related field would also be very helpful, such as one related to linguistics or language.

As a project manager you will find yourself in situations when you’ll have to rely on ingenuity and creativity in order to complete a task. Although you’ll have plenty of resources at your disposal to work through challenges, it’s good to have a proactive streak that means you’re confident enough to rely on your own competences to solve new challenges. Needless to say, your IT skills should be excellent, and you need to be able to focus on multiple tasks at once.

Responsibilities

The life of a translation project manager is best described as fast-paced, exciting and one in which there’s rarely a boring moment. A project manager is in charge of coordinating translation projects from start to finish, which requires plenty of dedication and management savvy.

Project managers have to understand the tasks at hand, assign them accordingly, and predict how long they would take to complete. Deadlines, rates and other aspects all need to be negotiated with clients by the project manager, who needs to upkeep a good relationship with clients and potential clients globally. In many cases, project managers are expected to have control over project finances, and deal with project documentation.

Stuff to deal with

A translation project manager has to be flexible, and ultimately take responsibility for the outcome produced by the team.

Helpful tips

The best tip to take home is to try and understand your team, as well as the project at hand. Listen to both your colleagues and clients and engage with them. Your team relies on you to manage their projects and be the problem solver, so do your best to be sensitive to your team’s issues, spot the problem in time and solve it.

Is it worth it?

The position of a translation project manager is a highly rewarding job. Seeing projects come together is the joy of any project manager, and the satisfaction gained from fostering creativity in your team will make all the hard work worth it.

A project manager enjoys the perk of interacting with new people from all over the world most of the time, as it is a job requirement to coordinate a large multinational and multicultural network. You will also inevitably pick up some extra skills from your time working this job — as you will notice that your social skills, time management skills and intercultural understanding improve as a result of the job.