Career paths in localization


The global localization industry is growing by leaps and bounds, but we are facing into a severe talent shortage.

Many new entrants to the industry are unaware of the career choices available to them, meaning 40% of graduates leave the industry after taking up entry-level roles. It is therefore crucial that we as localization recruiters map out available career paths to help new entrants grow their careers in localization. With that in mind, we set out some of the career choices available to new entrants and experienced employees looking to take their next steps within the industry.

Have you any advice for young people thinking of a career in localization? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.


  • A translator converts words and meaning from one language to another
  • It’s not just about translating a document or website word for word; the translator’s job is to convey the original tone and intention of the message, taking into account cultural differences
  • The reader must believe the words were written in their native language
  • Translators work with written words and software and must have native fluency in two or more languages. More and more, translators are working with computers and software to translate more efficiently and consistently
  • Many translators work as freelancers, but some are employed as in-house employees

How do you get here?

  • Typically, people become translators after studying linguistics/translation at university
  • Depending on the country and language, it may or may not be enough to join professionals in that industry. It is very important to gather the experience in translation from the very beginning, like working or volunteering for any translation/localization companies. It could be translation work but also testing/quality assurance, working on terminology lists, anything involved in the production

Where would you go from here?

  • Project translators sometimes have to advance their skills in various CAT and DTP tools,  so they extend their services into these areas. Also, translators may become Project Managers and follow the career path for PMs.


Project Manager

  • A project manager in the localization and languages industry manages localization projects from start to finish
  • This involves managing quotes and workflow, ensuring agreed standards and specifications are met, ensuring the project is on budget and meets its deadline, as well as managing the various team members involved in the project
  • The project manager also liaises with the client and manages their expectations
  • Project managers must be organized, good problem solvers, and have excellent people management as well as customer relations skills

How do you get here?

  • The path to a position as a project manager in localization very often begins with an assistant’s position where the employee has broadly the same responsibilities as a project manager but without the overall responsibility for project delivery
  • A university degree is usually a must,  but the subject studied is not that important. However, as mentioned already, PMs can come from a linguistic background like translators, who already have substantial knowledge about the industry. We have seen also Localization Engineers looking to and successfully transitioning into PM roles

Where would you go from here?

  • Project Managers become more senior by managing more and more diverse and complex projects, co-operating closer with clients and making more important decisions about the workflows.
    For large clients it is called managing programs – so the position of Program Manager is usually higher up the ladder than Project Manager
  • A Project Manager with solid people management skills could develop into managing the entire production or even operations of the whole company within a language service provider.  There are also of course project management roles in large global client-side companies with localization departments


Software Testing and Quality Assurance (QA) Professional

  • The software testing and QA professional ensures that the localised product is every bit as good as the original version
  • They ensure that the product features work as intended, both while the product is being localised and once it is manufactured
  • To do so, they create ‘test cases’, which are a series of steps that a typical user might follow when using the product. If a problem or ‘bug’ shows up during the testing, it is logged by the quality assurance team and sent to the localization engineer for fixing
  • Quality assurance professionals are familiar with different programming languages. Attention to detail is a must for roles in this area. One missed bug could cause havoc if it’s picked up by customers!

How do you get here?

  • Very often the companies do not have special requirements for people who do the testing, just being the native speaker of the target language and knowing some basics about computers, etc. However, people with technical skills could be considered for testing positions more often as they could manage to fix technical problems by themselves and be more independent from localization engineers. Also, it may be easier to get involved being someone with linguistic background, as it helps to understand the job itself better and not only fixing the bugs from technical point of view but also translate the necessary text with a good quality.

Where would you go from here?

  • Good testers may master their skills in testing and play more and more vital role within the organization. Knowing the tools, processes and workflows they could advance within the company, managing other testers and participating in production meetings. Quite often testers become Localization Engineers and follow the career path of a localization engineer


Software Localisation Engineer

  • The Software Localisation Engineer takes apart all the elements of the product to be localised, ensures they are localisable and then once localised, puts the elements together again
  • It is the localisation engineer’s responsibility to locate and identify all the necessary files and to prepare them for translation. Once the files have been translated, the localisation engineer can start building the localised products
  • When the localised product is built, it is then ready for testing. Localisation engineers fix all issues found during testing
  • The main requirements of the role are excellent problem-solving skills, a technical background, and the ability to communicate with both software developers and translators

How do you get here?

  • Localization Engineers must have a strong technical background so they can perform their duties in the proper way.
  • Additional linguistic skills could be an advantage but they are not crucial while experience in CAT and QA tools is very welcome.
  • Localization Engineers may come from testing background, or come from a development background or come in from university where they have studied a IT related discipline.

Where would you go from here?

  • Localization Engineers, with experience, become experts in the field of CAT tools and how to deal with various files, content type in different projects.
  • Client-facing Localization Engineers may advance to Solutions Engineer working closely with sales in a pre-sales capacity.

L10n People is a 360-degree global staffing company for the IT, games and localization industries — run by experts and used by experts.

Annette Lawlor About Annette Lawlor

Founder of L10N People
I love matching the right person for the right job and hearing the excitement in someone’s voice when they are offered their dream job, knowing that it will make a great change in their life.


  1. Hello, Annette! Thanks for sharing some insights about a career path in localization, great info! I think that people looking to gain experience in this field, will also be interested in knowing and reading the latest news in the l10n world. I recommend to have a look at where you can find lots of resources about this topic.


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