Getting freelance (or in-house) work in Spain
Thread poster: Lynsey Shearer

Lynsey Shearer
Spain
Local time: 03:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 10, 2009

Hi everyone,

I graduated 2 months ago with a First Class MA Honours Degree in Interpreting and Translating and have been struggling to get work. I have tried offering to work pro bono for NGOs and charities, I've written to several agencies only to be rejected by each and every one and have spent hours online looking for jobs.
Since I have been unable to get work here (in the UK), I have decided to relocate to Spain. Can anyone give me some advice on how to get established in this market? I've been told by several people that being a native English translator is a great commodity but I want to have a realistic picture of my chances of getting work in Spain. How should I go about looking for work? I would appreciate any advice anyone could give me because I'm starting to feel as if I'm never going to be able to break into the translation industry!

Thanks.


 

Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:57
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Moving to Spain Aug 10, 2009

Hi Lynseyicon_smile.gif

Sorry to hear you're struggling to find work. I know it's disheartening when you start out, but don't give up just yet.

A few points:

1. There is nothing stopping you from applying for freelance work for clients outside the UK. In fact, you may find that you get more business by applying to work with agencies in your source language country. Also bear in mind that freelance translators in Spain have to pay money each month to be self-employed, and you may struggle with this if you don't have any clients to begin with. (Freelancers in Spain will be able to expand on this, or correct me if I'm wrong, as I have never worked freelance there).

2. It takes time, probably a lot more than any of us really realise when we start out, to find clients and keep them. Keep trying and don't get discouraged by a few knock-backs. Ask for feedback from the agencies that do turn you down so that you can work on the things that are holding you back. Most established translators will tell you that they (like me) sent hundreds of applications before they got any work. And remember that getting your first job is often to do with being in the right place at the right time (i.e. an agency's usual translator is busy/on holiday).

3. Specialise. You mention a few topics that you feel more comfortable with on your profile, but you could emphasise these even more there and in your applications to agencies.

4. If you do decide you want to go the in-house route, keep an eye on sites like Proz.com because in-house jobs do turn up quite often. Set your email notification settings so that you find out about these jobs as soon as possible.

5. I'm sure you've already done a bit of reading here, but the Proz.com forums are excellent sources of information. When I started out, I found all the tips and advice I needed here.

Don't give up just yet!


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:57
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Start here? Aug 10, 2009

Hi Lynsey,

Well, you can start here:
http://www.spanish-translation-help.com/translator-jobs.html

or here
www.monsterboard.com ...
(fancy NYC?)

Best thing is probably check out all the websites of spanish based translation agencies (specialised in the same subject matters as yourself) and see if they have any openings for inhouse translators....

Greetings,
Ed



[Edited at 2009-08-10 13:50 GMT]


 

Lia Fail (X)  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
some suggestions Aug 10, 2009

Sorry for your troubles, but Rebecca has given you good advice. To avoid the frustration of "waiting about", you should maybe get pt work in another area, as it's a long slow haul to actually get to the point where you have enough clients to make ends meet. It's very rare to be workng as a translator at 80% or more capacity on day 1, logically.

Lynsey Shearer wrote:

I've been told by several people that being a native English translator is a great commodity



Your sentence jumped off the page, I don't know about that, many people use non-natives (see a few tourist and other webs) and there are thousands of native speakers of English here, although maybe few work in-house (and see below)

Lynsey Shearer wrote:

I want to have a realistic picture of my chances of getting work in Spain.



Salaries in Spain are poor, the mil-eurista (1000 euros a month) scenario applies to in-house translators, the hours are long (cos of the split days) and unpaid overtime is the norm. Just so you know.

If I was to relocate to Spain, I'd get a pt job as a teacher of English and do a few private classes as well (maybe 20 hours total a week), then work on building up a client base. If you are working from 9 am to 8 pm daily in-house, you won't have the energy to switch on your computer when you get home:-) Oh, and if you still wanted to work in-house, well, I'd travel to the city of my choice, get a list of agencies, and contact them for an interview or to drop in a CV.


 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ease yourself into translating... Aug 11, 2009

Lia's advice is very good. Ease yourself into translating by teaching part-time. You should be able to earn 25-30 euros an hour with an invoice and a little less for cash. Teach corporate clients and then you will not need to work in the evenings. Make sure you are paid for cancelled classes.

Working for anybody else - as either a teacher or translator - should be avoided. Ignore this advice if you are able to persuade your parents to emigrate to Spain so that you can live with them - as very many Spanish do.

Good luck.


 

Grace Horsley  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:57
Member (2008)
Spanish to English
Becoming a freelance translator in Spain Aug 11, 2009

Hi Lynsey!

I agree that it's a good idea to start out working part-time as an English teacher or in-house until you get enough freelance work. That's what I did at first, while I built up a relationship with several regular clients. It soon got to the point where I had enough work to go full-time. I can reassure you that there's plenty of work available from translation agencies in Spain, or that's certainly been my experience anyway. I quite often have more work than I can cope with. It's definitely worth giving some thought to specialisation as well, but bear in mind which sectors are suffering most from the crisis because this has obviously affected translators too. I'm afraid I can't comment on the advantages/disadvantages of looking for direct clients because I only work with agencies. For in-house translation jobs I suggest you have a look on infojobs.net, but if you do decide to go for an in-house position I would recommend doing so part-time because availability plays a large part in whether agencies continue to ring you or not.

As for the economic side of things, Spanish agencies don't generally pay very high rates and many of them pay after 60 or 90 days, but if you manage to get regular work from several clients it is certainly possible to make a decent living. I pay €260 a month in social security (the Spanish equivalent to national insurance), so you do need to be working almost full-time to make it worthwhile. But when I was working part-time I used to invoice through a cooperative (mine was called Sapic, but you can look at this website www.freelance.es to get an idea of how they work). It means that you can issue official invoices (through them) while only paying social security for the number of days that you actually work, so if you only do 5 days a month translating, you only pay 5 days' SS. Once you've got enough work it's better to register as 'autónomo', and it's also worth hiring a 'gestoría' to deal with your accounts and taxes, as the Spanish tax system can be confusing to say the least.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll find work in Spain.


 

Louise Souter (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Teaching not the solution Aug 11, 2009

Lia Fail wrote:


If I was to relocate to Spain, I'd get a pt job as a teacher of English and do a few private classes as well (maybe 20 hours total a week), then work on building up a client base.



Teaching in Spain is not that great either. When I was there we were lucky to get more than ten hours a week, the academies were extremely demanding and the commuting awful. I also found private students to be totally unreliable.


 

Lynsey Shearer
Spain
Local time: 03:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 11, 2009

Thank you all so much for your advice!

icon_smile.gif


 

Lia Fail (X)  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
teaching EN Aug 26, 2009

[quote]Louise Souter wrote:

Lia Fail wrote:
I also found private students to be totally unreliable.


Obviously people's experiences can be different ... it wasn't great work for me either, but I did have a fair amount of stability and it combined well with the early translation days. It eventually bored me to death though:-)

With private clients who, indeed, can muck you around by cancelling classes, you negotiate a monthly fee and limited (but reasonable) possibilities for recuperating the classes.


 


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