Looking for recommendations for a new translator
Thread poster: traductrice-ac

Local time: 19:23
French to English
+ ...
Jul 21, 2009

Hello et Bonjour,

I am about to start my 2nd year of teaching French at the HS level this Fall. I majored in French and then went on to get my M.A. in Education with certification to teach French K-12. I did well on the Praxis for French. I studied abroad my entire Junior year of college (I did take a translation course in France at an international school as part of the requirements for that academic year (2003)). I keep up with French as best as I can (reading news, watching movies, speaking with native French speakers when possible).

I'm writing because I really want to start doing more translation. I worked on a project for my church a few years ago, where I translated some religious articles into French. It was difficult to translate into French, especially with some of the vocabulary, but I really enjoyed it. It's like a really fun puzzle! There was a local woman who looked over my French and found it satisfactory, and then a native French speaker did the final editing. I didn't get too much feedback, other than that my French was very good (for a native English speaker, I'm guessing was the context).

I have looked at this site before, and wanted to apply for some jobs (I've done medical transcription, so I feel that that could be a possibility. I'm also great with technology, but don't know a lot of French vocabulary in that domain). But I'm not sure what good first steps to take are.

My questions are:

1) Can you just start applying for jobs if you have no posted experience on this site? Is it okay to set my rates very low and explain that I'm just getting started, or should I get experience elsewhere and then start charging on the low-end side?

2) What are some other good ways to be more involved and increase the likelihood that I will get translating jobs?

3) Are there any basic programs (trados?) recommended and/or required, or is it okay for me to do it all on my own at first until I get more accustomed to the jobs on here and see that this is something realistic for me?

I'd really appreciate anyone's input who got started here and has had success- answer any or all of my questions and I'd love any tips.

Thanks, merci en avance,



chica nueva
Local time: 12:23
Chinese to English
Bonjour Amanda! Jul 22, 2009

traductrice-ac wrote:
I'd really appreciate anyone's input who got started here and has had success - answer any or all of my questions and I'd love any tips.

Bonjour Amanda!

1 (It depends what you mean by success, I guess) Have you approached any agencies or possible direct clients in your city, I wonder.
2 I found I had to sit the Naati exam before I could be considered by the agencies, so perhaps sitting a translator exam would be a good idea. That would give you credibility, and also be a pathway to membership of a professional association.
3 I suggest contact the local T&I association branch and see if you can attend one of their meetings, and get advice there. Also, perhaps, ask around amongst the language teachers, Alliance Francaise etc, to see who is translating and whether translation is for you. How does that sound?
4 See what others say. eg Some of the peers here own their own agencies - they might be able to give you 'harder', more commercial advice ...
5 I have improved my skills through participating in the KudoZ terms help and the forums on this site. I have the feeling that in some pairs, many bid for jobs and few succeed.
6 Rates: If you are 'qualified', you should charge a professional rate, IMO. A similar income to what you are achieving as a teacher could be a benchmark.
7 In fact, your background sounds a little similar to mine. Perhaps you could also consider getting work editing or proofreading. Consider your translation speed and resources also. Will you be faster at Fr->En, or En->Fr. (Taking a timed exam could be a good indicator for this). Which direction will be more viable as an income earner ...
8 You can also use the KudoZ to see which fields you are strongest in.


[Edited at 2009-07-22 06:00 GMT]


Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:23
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Here are some ideas: Jul 22, 2009

1) Yes you can aplly anywhere if you want, even without diplomas and experience, as long as you can provide good quality translations, you might not be selected right away, but at least you can drop your details with agencies or organisations that have the same fields fields of expertise as you have.
AND NO IT IS NOT OK TO SET YOUR RATES VERY LOW, you will be dumping prices in general and make us all look like 3rd world 3cts a word translators.
Either you provide professional translations at professional prices, or you get addiitonal training,. Anyways you may opt to not translate INTO a foreign language, but into your native tongue only,. but that is up to you. (and the client of course)

2) You might want to start for local companies, good causes or pro bono work if you are only looking for experience... or get a trainneeship in a local translation agency...

3) Trados or WordFast can be a lot of help, expecially of you regularly do work for the same client, you can figure out how they work on your own or take an online trainign course, or have a local colleague explain how it works (again a traineeship might be a good idea)



Michael Mestre
Local time: 01:23
English to French
+ ...
About rates Jul 22, 2009

Dear Amanda,

I am only repeating here what I read on other threads a while ago :

Your rates should reflect your skills and the market price.
Dividing your rates by three in the hope of getting more jobs will only achieve the following :
1) You will get bad jobs that no one else would accept.
2) You will be treated like a janitor by the agency (a badly treated janitor).
3) You create an unrealistic perception of the market price by unprofessional agencies and clients (as other people have correctly pointed out above).

Here is my piece of advice :
-Make clear that you lack experience, not skills. Having very low rates creates the opposite impression.
-Compensate by never missing deadlines, and by spending a LOT of time even on small and uninteresting projects in order to make sure that everything is in order, if possible earning extra brownie points by pointing out mistakes in the source text.
-Set your rates in the lower end of the spectrum for serious translators, but not the bottom end.
It seems that you are not a paying ProZ member so you may not have access to that data, but here's what I see when clicking on the rates statistics tool for English to French :
Average "minimum per word" = 0.10 USD
Average "target per word" = 0.13 USD
They also display a nice bell curve showing that most people (>90% maybe) have more than $0.06 USD as a target rate.

It is a psychological effect, really. Imagine yourself in an instrument shop, with $500 to buy a guitar, and no chance to try the instruments (not that I would recommend such a shopicon_razz.gif )
You will probably avoid buying the $100 guitar that looks just fine but must "have some hidden flaw" and your purse may be directed towards the $450 guitar that must be better than that $300 guitar.
But maybe the $300 guitar is really better than the more expensive one, and it is even possible that the $100 guitar is not so different from the $300 one.
This example is slightly artificial, but apply it to professional computer software and it becomes VERY relevant.

I hope that this helpedicon_wink.gif


Local time: 19:23
French to English
+ ...
Merci beaucoup Jul 23, 2009

Thanks for your input. It definitely gives me a good starting base and some great ideas. I also agree with what people said about pricing and appreciate your thoughts. I will look into getting some training at a local T&I place or with the Alliance Francaise.



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