Being a translator in the UK : working from French, German and Dutch into English
Thread poster: Peter CD1
Peter CD1
Dutch to English
Aug 30, 2008

Working as a translator in the UK from French, German and Dutch into English, what is the likelihood of finding frequent work?

I would imagine you would have to specialise in something but would I be wrong in thinking that there would be an existing surplus of French to English translators?


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:09
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
16,211 Aug 31, 2008

A search on ProZ shows 16,211 freelancers worldwide offering French to English; 12,733 offering German to English; and 2,286 offering Dutch to English. So you are facing a lot of competition.

To succeed, you need to stand out from these crowds. You are right, specialisation will help, though I think it is better to think in terms of finding a niche that you fill better than anyone else. That may be a specialist subject, a less usual language combination, experience in a particular area, a businesslike manner that gives customers confidence in you, even things like being willing to work unsocial hours. In short, anything that will make outsourcers contact you rather than the tens of thousands of your competitors.

A good starting-point might be to have a more informative profile on ProZ. And let me put in a plug for the ITI who offer various training schemes.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:09
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
That many? Aug 31, 2008

Peter Linton wrote:
A search on ProZ shows 16,211 freelancers worldwide offering French to English; 12,733 offering German to English; and 2,286 offering Dutch to English. So you are facing a lot of competition.


12,733 for German to English? Where are all of these people when I need a vacation? Given the number of desperate contacts I receive from strange agencies you'd think there weren't more than a dozen. Maybe it is indeed a matter of specialties.

From what I've seen, if you stay sober, organize your business rationally, deliver good quality on schedule and treat your customers well you should do fine in most major language pairs in the long run. Whether you are in the UK, Estonia, Italy or the Netherlands shouldn't really matter. It's not like 1994 when most translation work was local - these days you'll get calls or e-mail at midnight from New Zealand or the US looking for service.

There's plenty of work out there, more than you'll ever be able to take on if you organize things right. The numbers Peter cites are real - the numbers you'll find in the ITI directories are perhaps more indicative of the number of "serious" professionals in the UK - but I don't think they'll matter much if your business house is in order.


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Paula McMullan  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:09
French to English
Be a part of ProZ and get noticed Nov 4, 2008

I joined ProZ just over two years ago as a novice translator, posted my CV and started responding to Kudoz postings to demonstrate my technical expertise.

Within a couple of months, I had been approached by half a dozen agencies and individuals. I have developed a great relationship with one of these agencies, which gives me regular and well-paid work, and I've done various assignments for others.

Even now, I get regular requests from agencies which I cannot fit into my schedule.

My investment in ProZ membership was the best money I have spent, but you must put an effort into the site before you get something out of it.

Good luck - it's worth hanging in there.

Paula


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