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Starting up/making a living as an En>Ru translator
Thread poster: maxtsymbalau

maxtsymbalau  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:25
English to Russian
+ ...
Apr 5, 2009

Is it presently possible to make a living as an English>Russian translator? Is this work outsoursed at all (I would imagine people in Russian-speaking countries charge a lot less than people living in the US)? How much can one expect to be earning? Any advice for a guy just starting up? Any help/advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks! By the way, I live in Minnesota, US.

[Edited at 2009-04-05 20:07 GMT]


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 03:25
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Welcome! Apr 6, 2009

Hi maxtsymbalau,

First, English into Russian language pair one of the most active combinations, so there's definitely plenty of work.

On the other hand, the competition is pretty strong due to sheer numbers of translators + those who believe themselves to be translators.

The rates are like in many other combinations - from peanuts to pretty high and quite sufficient to make a good living. Just don't expect you'll immediately get high rates and large jobs: it tales time to build one's clientele base and secure regular inflow of jobs.

Cheers,
Oleg


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The Misha
Local time: 20:25
Russian to English
+ ...
It's like asking if you can make a living running a corner grocery ... Apr 6, 2009

... and it also depends on what you mean by a living. Surely, there's a grocery on every corner, yet all of them are still there. First of all, it's a business, and like in any business much depends on how you go about it. It also helps if you are good, though it is by far not a sine qua non. Judging by what I see here, there's a ton of Russian natives in the old country cranking out fairly yucky translations in both English and Russian, yet they all seem to be working and keep asking most ludicrous KudoZ questions. I, for one, am good both ways but chronically underemployed for an obvious reason that I do not actively solicit clients. It's all right, there are other things to do in life. Depending on your age, background and other options available to you personally, I'd say there are more lucrative occupations than this.

Good luck either way.


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maxtsymbalau  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:25
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Making a living in a Western vs Eastern European country Apr 6, 2009

Thanks for an encouraging comment, Oleg! Can you say anything about market prices for En>Ru, meaning do the translators working from the Eastern European countries bring them (the prices) down? Life is still much cheaper and people earn less in Eastern Europe than, say, in the US, where I reside.

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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 17:25
English to Russian
+ ...
The interpreter's perspective Apr 7, 2009

The Misha wrote:
I, for one, am good both ways but chronically underemployed for an obvious reason that I do not actively solicit clients.


Unlike The Misha, I solicit clients almost non-stop... and yet I'm still underemployed.

The greatest bulk of the work I do is interpreting, not translating. From a pure economic point of view, it makes all the sense in the world: it is very difficult to outsource interpreting! (Not impossible with modern technology, I imagine, but difficult still...)

But with being mainly an interpreter, being court certified and soliciting clients almost constantly, I still wish I'd have more steady flow of income.

This is way I work so hard on getting certified in Spanish, because that's where the money is...

I don't mean to discourage you, though, but be prepared for a very rough start and lots of "no" when you market yourself. Also, if you live in the area with a sizable Russian population, consider interpreting - but don't expect a bed of roses there, either.

The comparison with a corner store is a very good one. Yes, if others can do it, so can you, but - those others have been there for a long time, and it won't be easy to compete with them.

Bottom line: you'll need a lot of dogged persistence, and don't quit your current job yet.


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 03:25
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Rates and working from a "cheap" country Apr 7, 2009

maxtsymbalau wrote:

Thanks for an encouraging comment, Oleg! Can you say anything about market prices for En>Ru, meaning do the translators working from the Eastern European countries bring them (the prices) down? Life is still much cheaper and people earn less in Eastern Europe than, say, in the US, where I reside.


First, one must be very rich to live comfortably in a poor country!

It's one of the false assumptions - charging less because the cost of living in the country of residence is lower. The logic is as follows: if we grade the standards of living from 0 (no standards at all) to 10 (ideal standard), Western countries' standards would be 7-9 and those of developing countries, 1-3. Translators who undercharge manage to increase the level to, say, 4 - they earn more than they would if working for local clients and that's that. But we have to pay triple to improve our standards to even 6 because services of good quality are scarce and very expensive; import taxes, customs duties and bribes are added to prices of high-quality imported goods... And even with very high income we can't buy ourselves good motor roads, medical services, reliable insurance, guaranteed safety in the streets and many other things which ARE standard when living in the West.

Do the translators working from the Eastern European countries bring the prices down? Why, sure, and not only those from the East European countries. Search the web and you'll see a lot of translation companies (frequently owned by people whose native language is Russian) offering services from the UK or US at the basic rate of $US 0.04 or 0.05. (In these structures, jobs are often outsourced to FSU-based translators at $3-5 per page. The margin is pretty good, the turnaround may be pretty high at times, and the bank account is kept in a third country, so there are no taxes paid... Business, isn't it?

As for specific rates, I can refer you to Rates tab in my profile. There's no one to tell you what to charge, it's something you decide on your own; but some of the ideas may be helpful.

Cheers,
Oleg


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