Bilingualism, intelligence, and sensitivity are basic aptitudes that translators should bring to their profession in order to be placed at the top of the food web (job market). It is not the perfection in all these qualities that matters, but basic skills in making use of them to produce natural-sounding, brilliantly explained, and adroitly edited translations. With the ubiquitous and almighty Internet Guru ready to help all translators in the world any time, any place, translators have the best editors and professors the world can offer like numberless genies in a bottle. You open the bottle, type and click, and they come out and solve all your problems.
Bilingualism is not something that can be learned -- it should be acquired through direct 'immersion' in both languages. If a language is learned using another language as a medium, it is at best a second language with near-native proficiency. A great consolation for non-native translators can be derived from the fact that nobody is born as a native writer. It is neither uncommon nor surprising that non-native translators can translate as well as or better than bilingual translators, especially because skillful Internet search and research bring solutions to every linguistic question that may arise during translation. Yet, the advantages innate to bilingual translators will remain out of their reach.
What is a lot more important than bilingualism is brain. The Internet is a treasure house of knowledge abounding with high-quality target language texts containing all expressions and information you need to translate like a super expert irrespective of disciplines. But they are of little use if you do not have the brain to learn and absorb anything instantaneously and apply what you have understood to your translation. It may sound cruel to translators and translation aspirants who are perfectly bilingual but have moderate IQ's; truly and honestly, however, they will have more satisfaction in other professions. IQ is a measure of capacities to grasp ideas and solve problems, which are two main ingredients to prepare a delicious dish of words and thoughts. Memory and creativity, two key condiments in the kitchen of a translator, are additional composing elements of the armamentarium of a translator. The capacity to learn in the sense of problem solving (translation is actually a series of problem-solving tasks) is indeed the most important translation tool in this Internet era. A translator well-equipped with this wonderful innate capacity becomes a temporary expert in any topic from any academic discipline while translating.
The third pillar of good translation is sensitivity. Without a highly sophisticated linguistic sensitivity, a translation can be correct, but never attractive. As is true of any other texts, a translated text should keep readers interested in it and make them inclined to absorb its contents. Clients whose writing skills leave much to be desired are not keen at all to see their clumsy sentences faithfully reproduced in the target language so that the target audience would have the same impression as the source audience, one of the main principles of conventional translation theories. Going a step further, translators should not hesitate to use their academic acumen to improve the quality of the manuscript. Clients are not insulted at all when their errors are corrected and contents are upgraded. For them, what really counts is not how faithfully their manuscripts are translated, but how appealing and persuasive the translated texts are. Why not producing a native-level high-quality target text rather than translating the source text as well as possible? This makes translation a high value-added activity for the benefit of the knowledge-based world community.