Mobile menu

How to count years of experience
Thread poster: cello

cello  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 11, 2005

Hello everyone!
I've been reading through the forum questions on getting established and I would be grateful for your advice on my 'problem': How can I (without bending the truth) count my years of experience as a translator?
At the moment I am in the process of seriously establishing myself as a freelance translator (updating my CV etc.) I am British and I graduated in 1989 with a degree in French and Spanish. Since graduating I have lived in Spain and my main income has come from TEFL teaching/management, although I have translated on and off since I arrived here.
Four years ago, with some friends, I set up a company to bill for translations, proof reading etc, so I have been a part-time translator for four years. However, to become a member of professional organizations, and on our Proz profile, you are required to state years of full time experience.
I don't want to lie, and on the other hand I don't want to sell myself short. Is there some kind of formula for calculating full-time experience?
Incidentally - in the credentials section of the profile - does a degree in languages count? I've looked at several other member profiles and they have included their degree in both "education" and "credentials"
Thanks in advance...
I forgot to say that at the moment my profile reads "zero" years experience, which looks awful!

[Edited at 2005-04-11 10:15]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:40
Member
French to English
Full time vs part time Apr 11, 2005

cello wrote:

I don't want to lie, and on the other hand I don't want to sell myself short. Is there some kind of formula for calculating full-time experience?



There is a huge difference between the type of experience you gain from part-time or full-time translation. If you do not have any years of full-time experience, adding up the time you spent translating part-time is not the same thing.

People usually want to know how long you have been earning your main source of income from translation -- in other words, has the quality of your work allowed you to earn a living from translation work, or was translation something you did on the side (which does not say much about the quality of your work).

In my opinion, full-time translation work makes such a difference because it shows whether or not you can market your services, whether or not your work is good enough to attract repeat business, etc.

Don't worry. There is plenty (no, not plenty -- way too much) work for good translators!

Take care,
Karin Adamczyk


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Kevin Kelly  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:40
Member (2005)
Russian to English
+ ...
What is "full time"? Apr 11, 2005

I cannot agree with Karin.

There are many, many reasons that someone may not be working full-time, and low-quality work and lack of marketing skills are far from the most common or important ones.

Furthermore, the implication is that if translator A works eight hours a day and translator B works six hours a day, then translator B must be 25% less skilled than A!!??

What if translator C has several high-paying clients and is extremely productive and can make a living working one day a week, while translator D has to labor 40 hours a week to make the same amount? Who is the better translator? Is translator C's "part-time" work less significant or valuable?

Or take my case: As a freelance interpreter, I used to work about 10 days a month, made a more than adequate living, and was in constant demand. Was I working part-time? Did the time I spent on my own research and reading not contribute to my value to clients?

I am now a full-time staff interpreter who does quite a bit of translation on the side ("part-time"). Does that extra translation not count as much as the translation/interpretation I do during the regular workday? I typically spend 60 hours a week either interpreting, translating or preparing to do one or the other. What category does that put me in, full-and-a-half-time? Does that imply better quality or superior marketing skills?

I suspect that most users of translation services couldn't care less how you gained your skills, how many hours you spend maintaining or improving them, or whether they came through full-or part-time employment. They are interested in the quality of the product you are able to provide them. The proof is in the pudding. Period. (This does not imply that university degrees and formal experience and credentials are meaningless; of course, not. They are pretty good indicators of the probability of a translator being able to provide good work. But ultimately, the only thing that counts is the product.)

My advice would be to quantify your experience however you like, as long as it reflects reality. Say, if you have spent 6,000 hours cumulatively over six years, in my book that is more or less equivalent to "full-time" for three years. In and of itself it says nothing of the quality of that experience.

Kevin Kelly


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:10
English to Tamil
+ ...
What I usually tell a new client Apr 11, 2005

I tell the client that I worked as electrical engineer for 23 years, as German translator for 30 years and as French translator for 27 years. Then I tell him that I have thus a cumulative experience of 80 years and my age is 59. When the astounded client asks me as to how it is possible, I reply with a straight face: "Overtime".

Regards,
N.Raghavan


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:40
Member
French to English
Clarification Apr 12, 2005

Kevin Kelly wrote:

Furthermore, the implication is that if translator A works eight hours a day and translator B works six hours a day, then translator B must be 25% less skilled than A!!??

Kevin Kelly


I clarified what I meant by part-time versus full-time -- having translation as your main source of income is what I consider full-time translation, regardless of the **number of hours** you spend translating.

Being able to earn a living from your translation activities does in fact say something about your marketing skills and the quality of your work.

Take care,
Karin


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:40
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Various ways, but honest is best Apr 13, 2005

cello wrote:
I've been reading through the forum questions on getting established and I would be grateful for your advice on my 'problem': How can I (without bending the truth) count my years of experience as a translator?


For on-line registers that request "number of years" experience, I calculate the number of months that I spent doing translation as my main source of income. Months that I did something else as my main source, but also did translation, I count as half-months.

However, it would by many not be considered dishonest if you simply noted the number of "years" (whether full or partial) since you started doing translation professionally (not counting number of years in full-time study).

I got my current job on the strength of the fact that I had "5 years'" freelance experience, but I never told my employer that I had that many years' experience. She simply took the year that I got my translation degree and subtracted it from the current year, and got "5" as an answer. In reality, I also did other stuff in those years (like further studies and some part-time non-translation work), but I did spent some time during the entire time "doing translation" too.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

cello  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to all and a few comments on your replies Apr 14, 2005

Firstly, I'd like to thank all of you for taking the time to give me such detailed advice, which has been extremely orientative.
I think my situation is best described by Narasimhan: "overtime" is what I have been doing since I arrived in Spain, recently graduated. At that time the only way to make a living, decent or otherwise, was in English teaching. (In Malaga if you can sell two pints of beer to a tourist in English you would probably describe yourself as bilingual and therefore by definition a translator!!!- I have had students who scraped through Cambridge 1st Certificate in English who describe themselves as such!)
As Kevin so rightly points out, there are many reasons why someone is not, or cannot, be a full time translator. Almost all of the people I know here who are now full time translators have had the financial support of a partner who pays the bills while they "establish" themselves.
I do see Karin's point about working full time, being able to earn a living and building up business. However, since I started "part time" translating about four years ago I have had repeat business and my "good" clients have reached me via existing clients, so I suppose that counts for something. Needless to say that "part time" for me has meant on occasion translating all 'morning'(Spanish mornings end at 2pm or later) and then going off to teach from four to nine, and of course weekends and 'holidays'also get 'sacrificed'.
As Samuel says: "honest is best". Although my degree (1989) was in applied languages and almost completely translation based, I wouldn't dream of "giving" myself 15 years experience (as his employer would probably suggest), which in any case would be pretty obvious that I don't have due to my lack of knowledge as far as the business/technical developments of recent years are concerned.
So I'm off to make some calculations based on Kevin and Samuel's suggestions. If anyone has any other comments to add, I'd be glad to hear them as I think that making the transition to full time freelance translation probably deserves a "how to" and if I have five minutes to spare I might just...
Once again, many thanks to all of you.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:40
Member
French to English
Sounds like you are on the right track Apr 14, 2005

cello wrote:

Firstly, I'd like to thank all of you for taking the time to give me such detailed advice, which has been extremely orientative.



Hi again Cello,

It sounds to me like you are on the right track. You know how much effort you have put into translation work and you have some excellent suggestions on how to *count* your experience in a way that is honest, gives you credit and can be impressive enough to help you attract more customers.

Good luck,
Karin


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

How to count years of experience

Advanced search


Translation news





memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs