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Translation qualifications
Thread poster: Emilienne
Emilienne
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:47
English to French
+ ...
Jan 10, 2005

I would like to know whether it is possible to get freelance technical translation work if one does not have a recognised qualification in language/translation but is bilingual with experience of technical translation work in industry?

Is is possible to get work with the above credentials?


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:47
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Jan 10, 2005

For example, doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc.. are generally sufficiently well-placed in their specialisations to be favorably considered. Another example: the mandatory requirement to be a translator at the EU Court of Justice is a law degree, not a translation degree. (You need to have a law degree to present yourself in the open competition.)

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Emilienne
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:47
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks and further query Jan 10, 2005

Thanks for your reply. It is encouraging.
Here is my personal situation:
Bilingual English/French (dual nationality with English as mother tongue)
Degree in Biological Sciences with a year in France
4 year experience in Marketing (with some French translation/interpreting work)
5 years Science teaching experience to A level
4 years as a Technical Author authoring in English and translating into French (Science/Engineering topics)

I'm considering going freelance as a French Translator. What do you think my chances of success are? (I have no translation qualification)


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:47
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't rush in Jan 10, 2005

Starting is always an uphill struggle, so before you commit yourself exclusively to translation, consider the advantages of maintaining your other activities with translation on the side. (This will include tax and financial angles as well, but I'm not in a position to inform you on UK regulations as regard this).

This way, you should be able to chalk up quite a few credentials in your field of specialisation (publications, lectures, teaching, fellowships, professional guilds, etc.). Point to them when you apply for translation jobs.

At a later stage, you might want to consider further qualification.

Even a hobby can become a specialisation. A translation software specialist (who is also a ProZian) once gave a talk at the ITI on how - apart from software in general - he got to be a kind of authority on Old English Sheepdogs, thanks to his pet. And good luck!

I'm sure others will be willing to share their experiences.

[Edited at 2005-01-10 13:22]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:47
German to English
+ ...
Translation qualifications Jan 10, 2005

Emilienne,

I recommend that you join one of the British or French professional associations, such as the ITI, IoL or SFT.

Marc


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 05:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
Two more essential elements Jan 10, 2005

You have a strong background in terms of linguistic and subject matter skills and experience. Two more essential elements added to these assets will guarantee you a good reputation: (1) excellent writing skills in the target language, and (2) good business practices (punctuality, dependability, availability, attention to quality and good customer service).

If you can break through the "barrier" of finding your first clients, then your good work will advertise itself and you will pick up new clients by word of mouth. Qualifications do not necessarily confer, nor guarantee these two strengths, and so you will be at a distinct advantage if you cultivate them.

[Edited at 2005-01-11 01:49]


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Emilienne
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:47
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you "GoodWords" Jan 11, 2005

Thank you very much for your very positive and encouraging reply.
Do you have any tips on how to win those first clients?


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:47
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The two-edged sword Jan 11, 2005

Emilienne wrote:

Do you have any tips on how to win those first clients?


This probably isn't a "how" question as it is a "who" question, and that kind of advice has a way of backfiring. Some people sell lists of establishments to apply to, and the effect has been, to encourage them to throw the thousands of applications they received as a result into the waste-bin.

Some people might refer you to the yellow pages, but that seems to be culturally-conditioned and the results are highly erratic. On the whole, you might get better ideas by starting a thread asking people just how THEY got started (real experiences), and then that might just tell you there are many ways that can't be classified or given out as cut-and-dried rules on how to start.

I'd say, go where you're wanted and not where everyone else goes. That would imply approaching those circles where you (and not everyone else) have a certain initiative and control, such as institutions dealing with your specialist areas. Or even better, those you have written texts for, and who know you in person. I have a friend who, as an ex-nurse who decided to stay home raising children, started with hospitals and pediatric clinics. No one else could offer better, and she soon had all the healthcare establishments in her home region. And all this by word of mouth.

Governments trained me, so I started with governments and stayed there for quite a long time. The experience took me from tourism to universities, hospitals, ministries and (in those days) state-controlled corporations (the latter a very interesting area to explore, even - and especially - when the private stockholders started coming in). They were good "credentials" for private agencies, which eventually came to form around 50% of my portfolio, but the agencies had so much repeat business that I can't really say that percentage reflects my income.

Each one of us can give you different backgrounds, just as each will have had different reactions/can tell you different effects as to how their clients evolved. Many of my government corporation clients have been privatised, but keep referring me to other, official institutions abroad with which they have maintained contact. (I thus can't say I myself started with a specialist area, as I went with my clients to their areas of interest, and developed them in such a way that I now specialise in several fields). Others, such as the Ministries, have my contact data on their lists and pass me on directly, so that I'm still surprised from time to time by institutions like Courts of Justice I've never worked for calling on my mobile.

Mailing lists may have worked in better ways for other translators. Don't undermine the associations, as Marc points out; these also have their own mechanics.

Another thing to consider in asking for advice and asking people to share their experiences is, that each of us reflect unique language profiles which determine what we are useful for. And not all of us will reflect the possibilities that could well be unique to a person in your position. In a word, it's all very well to standardise, but this is something no organized body can determine for you. You'd be better starting off with an in-depth self-assessment of your strengths.

Hope it helps.


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Emilienne
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:47
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jan 11, 2005

Thank you very much for your help, Parrot.
I shall start by examining my own strengths and go from there.

If anyone else can let me know how they started out, I shall be most grateful.


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Promenader
English to Chinese
Opportunity + devotion Jan 27, 2005

Hi,

I am just new here and saw your post and try to share my experience with u. In my opinion, if you love lauguage and culture in addition to specific knoweledge, you could become a translator. Just the matter of opportunity. There should have any opportunity arising if you pay attention to it.

Certification is a piece of paper, the most important is your translation skill and how your client comment on your works.You can build your reputation and qualification by your works. Hopefully it could help u to go further. Good luck!


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