Poll: For how many years have you been translating?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 08:10
SITE STAFF
Feb 6, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "For how many years have you been translating?".

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:10
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
How about 51+? Feb 6, 2006

I would have been interested to see how many are in this category. I only know of one other apart from myself, namely Jack Slep. But there are probably a few others.

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xxxUSER00230
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:10
German to English
51+ Feb 6, 2006

Jack Doughty wrote:

I would have been interested to see how many are in this category. I only know of one other apart from myself, namely Jack Slep. But there are probably a few others.


Congratulations - no one can beat you on the experience front!


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Wouter van Kampen
Thailand
Local time: 22:10
Danish to Dutch
+ ...
Warning Feb 6, 2006

6-10 27.3%
3-5 26.7%

[615 voters]

These figures are a warning for everybody who considers a professional life as a translator. Volumes are growing but the population of translators is growing much faster. By my estimation translators with a solid background in another profession, an extended general education and a very flexible and adaptive mind are going to be the survivors. Meanwhile the pressure on rates will continue to be intensive for all those that have not yet discovered a niche market.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 11:10
SITE FOUNDER
Do you have other data on that? Feb 6, 2006

titi@home wrote:

6-10 27.3%
3-5 26.7%

These figures are a warning for everybody who considers a professional life as a translator. Volumes are growing but the population of translators is growing much faster.

Hi titi@home.

Do you know this to be the case from other sources? Personally, I have not seen it argued that the population of translators is growing faster than the volume of translation work, and I do not think it is possible to conclude that from these numbers alone. For example, dropoff and other factors would need to be considered.


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Сергей Лузан
Russian Federation
Local time: 18:10
German to Russian
+ ...
30 Feb 6, 2006

30 in fact from the day I received my 1st translator's fee as 1-st student, but I voted 16-20 (when fees became substantial part of my total income)

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IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:10
Member (2005)
French to English
Translator demography: some qualification required Feb 6, 2006

titi@home wrote:

6-10 27.3%
3-5 26.7%

[615 voters]

These figures are a warning for everybody who considers a professional life as a translator. Volumes are growing but the population of translators is growing much faster. By my estimation translators with a solid background in another profession, an extended general education and a very flexible and adaptive mind are going to be the survivors. Meanwhile the pressure on rates will continue to be intensive for all those that have not yet discovered a niche market.


Even if we admit that translator numbers will outstrip translation volumes, in my humble experience, the crude figures would need to be qualified by the fact that at any given time, the number of tried-and-tested translators available in a given field/language-pair match is finite, and even severely limited at times. I daresay we all often have the heartache of having our hands full, and having to tell a client to look elsewhere.

Entrants to the profession often get their chance when a senior translator is too busy. But I find that the headache of my agency clients is getting hold of reliable translators: I have a rather depressing job of revising applicants' test translations for an agency, and when I spot someone who has promise, I point them out, even if their "score" is below the agency's requirement. Sadly, few even of these promising fledglings get through my client's barbed-wire hoops. The heresy I bump up against is of expecting experienced translators to leap fully-armed from the skull of Jupiter, a point I keep gently hammering home with the client in question: just as I learned by being expertly revised, so my younger colleagues need to be instructively revised in their turn.

The real issue here is one of handing on one's tradecraft to the people who come after us, and ProZ is one avenue for doing this. Agency clients should conscientiously and systematically cause their translations to be revised, so that a young translator can be helped up onto the rails, acquiring the skills and confidence to produce good work to demanding deadlines.

To conclude, a simply "mass-action" view of the market can be misleading. Assisted quality, rather than raw quantity, is the watchword for tomorrow's translator.

[Edited at 2006-02-06 14:05]

[Edited at 2006-02-06 14:07]


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 11:10
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Once again, "It depends." Feb 6, 2006

How many years *have I been translating*? 22

How many years *have I been a professional translator*? 9

I count my "professional translator" years from when I first got paid for a translation. But I had been translating for friends, for personal use, for the church, and for publication by a not-for-profit organization for many years before that.

So I marked 20-25.


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Wouter van Kampen
Thailand
Local time: 22:10
Danish to Dutch
+ ...
Krakow Feb 6, 2006

There were two people saying this in Krakow. One indirectly and in the open during the presentation Global Information Management: Future of Localization (3rd ProZ.com Conference - Kraków 2005), and the other one I cannot mention as it really was off record.

You are right; you cannot conclude this on the basis of only a limited number of voters.

The following key factors are valid for the part of Europe where I live:

1) in recent years, and still going on, many people that held/hold intermediate level positions in offices are made redundant. A portion of these decides to become free-lance translators (predominantly EN>their native language);
2) the percentage of young people (20 -30) that nowadays has a university degree or a diploma of some kind of institute for higher education is extraordinary. They all have had some international exposure using basic English as their lingua franca. There are insufficient jobs for these people. A portion of these decides to become free-lance translators (predominantly EN>their native language);
3) Institutes of higher education sensed the market for translation services some 20 years ago and are still delivering vast quantities of formally trained translators. Most of them first try to find a job at a translation agency or as an international secretary, end up in a temporary job through an agency and then --> 1;
4) Starting up as a free-lance translator is really easy in business terms. Basically: one PC, a suite of office applications , a dictionary, an internet access point and a phone, and you can go ahead. US$ 2000,- ?;
5) Drop off is probably low. Once you have established yourself as a translator you are more or less stuck. Translators are not held in high esteem, since everybody can do it is the general consensus. If you do not believe me. Poll the community.
6) Last but not least, being a freelance translator is an ideal way of making a living when you have young children. Hardly any parent is able to spend lots of time with his/her children during the day. A freelance translator with a mobile phone can do business in a play ground and work on the assignments late at night
7)These days the costs of sustaining a family have become that high that one-income families are becoming rare. Plenty of translation jobs out there on the internet, look at what some portals have to offer, right ?

Note: even in a situation where a split high/low quality market is developing - this seems to be the case - the pressure on rates in the low quality market will undoubtly have an adverse effect on the rates paid for high quality work.

Henry wrote:

titi@home wrote:

6-10 27.3%
3-5 26.7%

These figures are a warning for everybody who considers a professional life as a translator. Volumes are growing but the population of translators is growing much faster.

Hi titi@home.

Do you know this to be the case from other sources? Personally, I have not seen it argued that the population of translators is growing faster than the volume of translation work, and I do not think it is possible to conclude that from these numbers alone. For example, dropoff and other factors would need to be considered.


[Edited at 2006-02-06 19:52]

[Edited at 2006-02-06 19:56]

[Edited at 2006-02-06 19:56]

[Edited at 2006-02-06 20:38]


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Mrudula Tambe  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 20:40
English to Marathi
+ ...
Does it make a difference? Feb 10, 2006

I saw that people having more experience in years are not doing much better than me. OTOH some of them are doing for the sake of job and not dedicated at all. Secondly every moment every word you see in source language anywhere must challange your brain and one should not stop until getting the perfect word in target language then only there is a time value to consider. Otherwise you are not the translator at heart. Suppose I see a word in English on Bus-Stop, my brain starts working on that word and it goes on days for the optional word in Sanskrit or Marathi then that period is to be counted and not my serving years in translation field.

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