How can I get started with translation?
Thread poster: Sparrow2
Jul 9, 2009

Hi!

I'm new to this site, and hopefully I'm not offending anyone by doing this. I am a native Finnish speaker, and have been living in the US for about four years now. I graduated with a BA in Archaeology in Finland in 2005 and have been working the field since then. The job market is really slow right now, and I am considering other things to do for money. I was actually accepted in to University to study English. At the time there were 10 spots for yearly admission in Archaeology and 60 in English, so I thought I had a better chance to get in with English, and then immediately change my major into Archaeology. The English department twisted my arm to do 5 credits of their courses anyways, though, being sceptical of my choice of major. So I did their first year translation courses of Finnish-English and English-Finnish. I also did one semester of exchange studies (anthropology / archaeology) in the States before graduating. My TOEFL computer based score for that was 270/300, should have been better though, I scored better during the test drive. I think the requirement was 150 or 175 or something. Can I make some money doing translations? I think my best areas would be humanities academic or just generic language. How would I get started with that? Any advice would be appreciated. Or you can just kick me off the site, for not being a professional /career translator...

Thanks,
Nina

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-07-09 21:50 GMT]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:46
English to French
+ ...
Back atcha Jul 10, 2009

Sparrow2 wrote:

Can I make some money doing translations?

Yes, you can. As long as you enjoy translating and feel it is more than just a way to make some money, you can. I know you are interested in money. But are you interested in translation?


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chica nueva
Local time: 20:46
Chinese to English
Some suggestions regarding using this site ... Jul 10, 2009

Sparrow2 wrote:
... I am a native Finnish speaker, and have been living in the US ... I graduated with a BA in Archaeology in Finland in 2005 and have been working the field since then. ... I did their first year translation courses of Finnish-English and English-Finnish. I also did one semester of exchange studies (anthropology / archaeology) in the States before graduating. My TOEFL computer based score for that was 270/300, ... Thanks, Nina

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-07-09 21:50 GMT]


Hello Nina
Welcome. Very good. Don't worry, there are all sorts of translators here... Your topic heading is very general IMO, in fact it is the topic heading for the whole forum! IMO you've made a good start by coming here. Next, I suggest you fill out some details on your profile, and introduce yourself at the Finnish Forum. Then learn to use the functions on the site such as Forum Search and Directory to find information relevant to your fields, and develop your reputation and terminology and search skills through 'KudoZ' terms help. Hope this helps.
Lesley

[ http://www.proz.com/siterules/forum/2#2 ]


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xxx1279
Local time: 02:46
All joking aside... Jul 10, 2009

Okay, enough of the sarcasm. As a group, we can be pretty protective of our profession, but we just like to do what we can to keep people from getting in way over their heads by assuming that translation is easy if you happen to know a couple of languages.

You gave us lots of concrete information in your post. It sounds like you might have what it takes to consider translation as a career. Many professional translators work in another field first before becoming translators. This can actually be a plus, since you have specific knowledge of another field that can become your field of specialty.

You can learn a lot from the information here on this website, which will better help you to evaluate your potential as a translator, learn how to improve your skills, and figure out how to run a profitable business. I strongly suggest you read other posts in the "Getting established" forum and articles in the "Community" section.

Realistically speaking, I think the main potential downfall of a plan to "make a quick buck" as a translator is that it takes time to establish any business to the point that it is reliably profitable, and the translation industry is no exception. Most freelancers need a year or two to really get going, especially if they are straight-up newbies. Even if you absolutely love being a translator and are willing to do the hard work required to learn the job, deal with legal and tax issues as a freelancer, learn translation software, earn credentials, market yourself, and win over some clients with your good quality and service, chances are that you will not quickly generate a constant stream of income.

I hope this information will prove helpful to you as you make your decisions. I (and I'm sure countless other Proz members) have found freelance translation to be very fulfilling work. Good luck!

Regards,
Clare


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:46
English to German
+ ...
Specialise and improve your skills Jul 10, 2009

Hi Nina,
You don't need to apologise, and there's no reason for not participating here.

I'm a banker by training, and worked in investment banking before starting my financial translation business around 15 years ago. So yes, it is possible to get started - but as in any profession, it takes a specific mindset to be sucessful. (On top of this, you will need to hone your entrepreneurial skills - freelance translation means running an independent business.)

The job market is really slow right now, and I am considering other things to do for money.

Understandably so, but this shouldn't be your only reason or motivation. To understand some of the responses to your original posting, you need to bear in mind that this can be a fiercely competitive market, exacerbated by the presence of countless participants calling themselves "agency" or "translator" who don't have a leg to stand on.

Can I make some money doing translations?

Probably, but again - this is not enough: to be successful doing this, you need proper planning, specialisation, and constant training.

I think my best areas would be humanities academic or just generic language.

Why? I admit that I have no idea about the market for archaeological translations, but since this is your subject field of specialisation, it would appear logical to start there - perhaps including some related fields.

Or you can just kick me off the site, for not being a professional /career translator...

Now that was a (sub-conscious?) invitation to kick you, in my view. Another key skill is being able to stand up for what you do, and stick to your ground.

Browse the forums and the knowledgebase articles - there's a wealth of knowledge and advice waiting for you. Good luck!

Best regards,
Ralf


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:46
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks Clare! Jul 10, 2009

Clare Corado wrote:
All joking aside...

Thank you Clare. I entirely agree with your reply. It's a very welcome, frank, sensible, sensitive statement.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:46
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The worst question... Jul 10, 2009

Sparrow2 wrote:
I'm new to this site, and hopefully I'm not offending anyone by doing this.

Of course you don't offend anyone! The worst question is the one you don't ask. It's perfectly reasonable that you want to learn more about translation and its potential as a source of income in your situation. My colleagues have answered better than I would, but I wanted to wish you lots of luck in the process of deciding whether translation is for you, either temporarily or as a future career.

Take care!
Tomás


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 07:46
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Hardly Jul 10, 2009

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:
... your best bet is focusing on your area of specialisation, i.e. archaeology. Probably not too many jobs offered in this field, but you should be one of the top candidates for anyone looking for translation in this field.


On the contrary, Madeleine. The archaeologists of my acquaintance are some of the best practical linguists I know (the German ones at least). I doubt they'll need the translation skills of a student. Tutoring school pupils might be a more appropriate way to turn a quick euro.

***

Edited to add:

As Ralf and Clare point out, translation is a serious business where serious success usually requires a long-term commitment. Your TOEFL scores, school grades, etc. are utterly uninteresting to potential clients. All that matters is whether you can deliver the desired product: a translation that is appropriate for its intended use.

It's certainly possible to establish a sideline as a translator which is fun and profitable. I did this out of sheer boredom while I was working as a systems consultant and programmer for a German software company. But I also benefited from the guidance of a friend who had been a professional translator for over 20 years.

Define your goals and then work out a plan to get there. If you need quick money to pay next month's rent you might be better off tutoring after school (I wasn't being sarcastic). You might "get lucky", but I sent months initially without getting a single translation project, though admittedly I wasn't trying that hard and was more concerned with figuring out details like tax obligations and invoicing requirements first. Since you're in the US now (according to your profile), you might want to have a look at Corinne McKay's book on freelance translating (it's available on Amazon). It presents the profession from the perspective of a successful US-based translator and is a good read. Although I'm American, a lot of what I would have to say is more relevant to a European resident and more particularly one working my specific language pair. Your potential market is likely very, very different and will probably require different approaches.

[Edited at 2009-07-10 08:04 GMT]


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
You don't have to be a professional/career translator Jul 10, 2009

Sparrow2 wrote:

Or you can just kick me off the site, for not being a professional /career translator...

Thanks,
Nina

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-07-09 21:50 GMT]


Proz is for people interested in translation. Some are professional translators, some are not. You don't have to worry. Start to take part in Kudoz questions, forums etc. And your translation career will take off. Fill out your profile page carefully and the moment you state you are a professional translator, you will be one.
Welcome to the fray and good luck.



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xxxPRen
Canada
Local time: 03:46
French to English
+ ...
Gee Writeaway.... Jul 10, 2009

writeaway wrote:

Sparrow2 wrote:

Or you can just kick me off the site, for not being a professional /career translator...

Thanks,
Nina

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-07-09 21:50 GMT]


Proz is for people interested in translation. Some are professional translators, some are not. You don't have to worry. Start to take part in Kudoz questions, forums etc. And your translation career will take off. Fill out your profile page carefully and the moment you state you are a professional translator, you will be one.
Welcome to the fray and good luck.



Better watch out for the heavy-handed mod - I got bounced for insinuating it might take a bit more than wishful thinking. You know... I wished I was a translator and now I are one!!


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