Is it possible to make a living through translation/interpreting?
Thread poster: Leaf
Leaf
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:44
English to Chinese
Mar 10, 2003

I have been living in the UK for eight years and have obtained a BA and a MA. During my study for the MA I did three translation/interpreting modules and also worked as a free lance interpreter/translator, translating/interpreting between English and Chinese.



However, I have never had enough work to make me think that such work can sustain a reasonable living. After gradution I got a part time job and carried on doing free lance work at which point I came to realise that I am actually quite good at it and enjoy doing it more than anything else.



I really want to take it more seriously but have no idea as to how to get more work. Could you give me more advice on that?





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Chinoise  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:44
English to Chinese
+ ...
Tips: Mar 10, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-03-10 11:18, Leaf wrote:

I have been living in the UK for eight years and have obtained a BA and a MA. During my study for the MA I did three translation/interpreting modules and also worked as a free lance interpreter/translator, translating/interpreting between English and Chinese.



However, I have never had enough work to make me think that such work can sustain a reasonable living. After gradution I got a part time job and carried on doing free lance work at which point I came to realise that I am actually quite good at it and enjoy doing it more than anything else.



I really want to take it more seriously but have no idea as to how to get more work. Could you give me more advice on that?









Hi Leaf, B.A., M.A.:



Keep answering questions + keep bidding on jobs ====> your eventual success!





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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:44
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
To make a living as a translator? Mar 12, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-03-10 11:18, Leaf wrote:



However, I have never had enough work to make me think that such work can sustain a reasonable living. After gradution I got a part time job and carried on doing free lance work at which point I came to realise that I am actually quite good at it and enjoy doing it more than anything else.



I really want to take it more seriously but have no idea as to how to get more work. Could you give me more advice on that?







Hi, Leaf



Thank you for visiting ProZ.com and the Chinese Forum!



I think a large number of new translators would like to know the answers to your question and concern. I would love to take this opportunity to share with you my thoughts.



First of all, you did the right thing by giving yourself a chance to experience the life as a translator/interpreter while holding a day job or part-time job. I advise every new translator to do so. This means that you are still able to survive when there is no translation or interpretation job available to you.



Personally speaking, I love the life style as a translator, because I simply cannot imagine if I could be ever able to sit in an office cube from 9AM to 5PM everyday, and let someone else to manage my time. As a full-time translator, I am my own boss and decide when I want to work, or even whether I want to work.



It took me 5 years to complete this transition period from a regular office job to a full-time freelance translator. I wish it did not take me that long. One thing you can do and proven to be successful is to let people know who you are and what you can do. To achieve this goal, you need to take the following steps:



1. Join a professional translator/interpreter association. This can help you to understand the qualification and ethic code required to equip as a professional translator. This will also establish your legitimacy and credibility.

2. Join as a member at one or many translators\' websites. Among all translators\' websites out there, I know ProZ.com is the best. The membership fee is only $120 per year. The design and concept of ProZ.com work perfectly for a translator like you who want to make known and also needs recognition and credibility. It also can give you a good idea in terms of your position among the rest of translators.

3. Find your strong edge and try to be unique and standing out. Stick to your specialty and be the best. With such good understanding of yourself and this business, present yourself to other translation companies with confidence by emailing or sending out your positive looking resume.

4. Setup a web page where people can easily find necessary information about your services, qualification, experiences, education background and contact information. Post out your sample translations in your web page. Be sure to format your translations in various subjects that you are good at side-by-side with the source text and save them as PDF files, or you can simply take advantage of the \"Portfolio\" which is designed for your \"Profile\" at ProZ.com. For getting the idea, you are welcome to take a look at my \"Profile\" and \"Portfolio\" pages at ProZ.com.

5. Sell you service, not your soul. To start with this career, sell your service with superb quality at a reasonable price. If you bid a job too low, it can make people think you are too \"cheap\" and forget to take you seriously. Stick to your quote, even though you are losing money. Take every single job seriously. Only take those jobs you know you can do excellent. Do not do any mediocre job, just because you need the money. It can backfire at you later. Remember, your goal is to get as many happily returned customers/clients as you can. Again, sell you service, not your soul.



To answer your question in short, you can make a darn good living by serving as a full-time translator. I am a perfect example. But, for now you might experience a rough time to start with due to the slow economy and war. But, it is not necessarily all true because, for some strange reasons, I am much busier this year than I was last year.



Print out the above-mentioned steps on a piece of paper, and check out one by one after each step is taken. You are really fortunate that there are all these resources available for you to learn how to become a full-time translator. I remember I had to figure out everything on my own when I was starting out.



Good luck with your endeavor!



Kevin





[ This Message was edited by: TongliUSA on 2003-03-29 17:24]

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Leaf
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:44
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
many thanks Mar 20, 2003

Dear Kevin

Thank you ever so much for your message. It is truly enlightening. I will take your advice and try my best to achieve my goal.


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Li-chuan Yen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:44
English to Chinese
My experience Mar 26, 2003

That\'s a good one, Kevin! I think for every job you have to find the right way to approach it and some investments are absolutely necessary.



I think another good thing is, if possible, to find a part-time or even full-time job in a translation company. Working in an organised company helps one learn the process and understand the client\'s needs.



Another thing is keep trying. When I started, I sent out hundreds of applications and kept looking for new opportunities. If there\'s chance, do a good job and retain the client.



One day, you\'ll be offered more jobs than you can take. Enjoy!


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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:44
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Great suggestions, Li-Chuan! Mar 27, 2003

Li-chuan,



Great suggestions! It is also a delight to hear from you.



Talking about investment, I am afraid I over invested on some of the software programs, which get upgrade just about every year and not get used much. I feel like trapped in a catch-22 game. However, I think Windows XP and MS Office XP are the “must have” things for every translator, because such new improve versions offer you the VERY stable and easy operating Chinese input system, and made Chinese translation very easy to manage.



Another point we should emphasize here is that a translator must constantly learn new words and accumulate knowledge in every field possible (Be sure set your own priorities). A translator can become obsolete if he or she does not keep up with learning the updated information directly from the countries and/or the people that the languages are used. I met someone here who told me that he does not read Chinese newspaper or online news, and does not watch cable or satellite TV programs from China or Taiwan. I think this is very dangerous for a translator, because this tells me that he “lost touch” with the resources required for him to be a specialist or professional in this business.



Kevin



[ This Message was edited by: TongliUSA on 2003-03-27 16:35]


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Leaf
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:44
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
thanks very much May 16, 2003

Dear Li Chuan



Thank you very, very much for your encouragment. I am very glad to receive advice from someone who is doing so well and yet so even-headed.


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