Career Moves - Taking Translation to the Next Level
Thread poster: Emal Ghamsharick

Emal Ghamsharick  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:19
English to German
+ ...
May 2, 2010

Hello all,

I started taking odd translation jobs in university about three years ago. However, it was never my main source of income. I worked for abysmal rates and tried out plenty of other jobs, like hustling credit card contracts, promoting parties or even working as a PA for the CEO of a global defense consultancy firm.

About one year ago, I found out that I could actually make a comfortable living off translation. This year, my income has reached such levels that it would be a reasonable decision to quit school because I would not earn the money I make now even after several years in a regular job - and I'm not even working hard!

Btw, here's a hint for everyone who's hesitant about starting a career as a freelancer: Just do it! I've read a lot of posts by folks who are thinking about getting all sorts of qualifications and working 5 years as in-house translators. That's nonsense! 90% of success is just doing what needs to be done, not figuring out every detail in advance.

The great advantage of freelancing is that you need virtually no capital get started, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Go on Craigslist, get a few jobs doing private correspondence or barbershop websites, and you're ready to go.

Well here's my point: I'm 24 now and I want more from life than to sit in front of a screen all day and blow my money on frequent vacations to exotic destinations.
Are there any people that have crossed over successfully from freelance translations into other careers, started their own businesses or made their lives more worthwile in any other way?


I really don't want to spend the rest of my life as an overpaid secretary. Any contributions are greatly appreciated.


 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:19
Flemish to English
+ ...
No next level in translation. May 2, 2010

Getting qualifications is one of those things, you will have to do to pursue a career in the "normal" world.
My experience at a mulitnational : Those who had been in a leadership role (except for the military, rather difficult at 24) or those who came from a business-school (and had an MBA) had a head-start on all the others.
If there was one job, 9 applicants and 1 MBA, guess who in 99% of the cases got the job.
Some careers are quantitative knowledge-based. This world is all about figures. Try any Blue Chip company and what is required? Languages or quantitative thinking. Yes, the real world considers translators as overpaid secretaries, whereas they attribute themselves the importance of a CEO.
From what I have seen, if I could choose between translation and a middle-management role in a blue chip company by the time I would become 40, I would not hesitate:
Sometimes the perks (bonuses,discounted flights worldwide, hotel and car rental discounts just to name a few), equal many times the annual income.
Companies value translation as a in-house at between £ 20.000-25.000.
In other countries, this is less.
Freelance earns more, but I doubt whether it will earn as much as an in-house at an international institution with say 5 years of service.
A quantitative job can earn double or three times that amount.
Of course, you must have an inclination for abstract and quantitative thinking: be good at math, statistics, accounting, finance etc...

Even Bill Gates or the people behind him had a certain knowledge to sell when Microsoft was founded. In a company or corporation you go up the career-ladder.

However, from you posting it appears that you want to win the lottery and get rich overnight. College (Education) is not for me, translation is not for you.
I admit that moneywise, it is better to be able to play tennis very well or hit the hole on a golf-course.



[Edited at 2010-05-02 20:26 GMT]


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:19
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
hmmmm... May 2, 2010

overpaid secretary???
: )
Well I guess you just insulted most people here.
But if you're 24 - you 've got lots of money - and like travelling to exotic locations...

You should become a professional gambler / poker player perhaps..
On the simpler side of life, you may want to become a holiday tester, or something like that - of you get a normal job and take on a dangerous hobby like mountain climbing, bungy jumping or something like that...

Remember: If at first you don't succeed - parachuting is not for you!


---
Ed


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:19
Italian to English
The world is your oyster May 2, 2010

Hi edm176 (mind if I call you "edm"?)

You're right that it's often easy to make quite good money quickly as a translator. Clients don't pay you any less simply because you're only 24! What they are interested in is how good your work is and how reliable a business partner you are. A lot of translators lack a taste for business so you're ahead of the game on that score.

But bear in mind that there are translators who talk to secretaries and translators who talk to CEOs. To become one of the latter, you need to offer something extra, in the form of specialisation and practical experience in the field concerned.

If I were in your position, I would consider two medium-term strategies. One would be to spend a few years working in one or more potentially lucrative specialist areas while keeping my translation skills ticking over (and making contacts with future clients) while the other would be to invest some of my translation earnings in setting up an agency to put my entrepreneurial instincts at the service of other translators. It really depends on whether you want to spend more of your time managing people and paperwork or actually translating.

And now is also the time to pick up some qualifications, preferably in both translation and your chosen specialist areas. These days there are plenty of reputable institutions offering distance-learning options that you can fit into your schedule.

Good luck from both of us,

Gloria Fayed
T.I. Piste


 

Alexandra Speirs  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:19
Italian to English
+ ...
ho hum May 2, 2010

Very good Giles, for a few minutes you had me wondering who Gloria was ....

 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:19
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
surreal May 3, 2010

I think I might be dreaming this thread.

 

Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 15:19
English to Spanish
Thank you! May 3, 2010

Giles Watson wrote:

Gloria Fayed
T.I. Piste



icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

[Edited at 2010-05-03 04:35 GMT]


 

Emal Ghamsharick  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:19
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks "Gloria" May 3, 2010

That was very helpful. I like the idea that there is some sort outlook to this job. As much as I love juggling words all day, I'm too young to retire from worldly life already.

My sincere apologies to anyone who may have felt I was debasing this profession: Translating is an art and a vocation. Mastery is not the ultimate goal, it is the prerequisite for becoming a translator.


 

Natasha Dupuy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:19
French to English
Gloria May 3, 2010

Nice one, Gilesicon_wink.gif

 

Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:19
Italian to English
+ ...
Gloria unto Giles May 3, 2010

Giles Watson wrote:


Gloria Fayed
T.I. Piste



Definitely losing it - it's taken me until now to get the joke.

I'm with Paula!

Suzi


 

Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:19
French to English
Just wondered... May 4, 2010

edm176 wrote:

I'm 24 now and I want more from life than to sit in front of a screen all day

Very wise. Close the door on your way out. Seriously - you're young - go and live a young person's life. Also seriously, the most effective translators are those with actual real-life experience in a particular field (typically paid employment, but not necessarily - not all fields offer that option, for one thing) in a country where the source language is spoken.
So flee from here with all haste, and come back in 5 or 10 years.

Are there any people that have crossed over successfully from freelance translations into other careers,... etc.

Logically my dear fellow, what would former translators being doing roaming round the forums on a translators' website?
I can well imagine there are boatloads of people who have crossed over successfully into other careers, but having done so, how likely is it that they would come back here to tell us poor saps all about it?

[Edited at 2010-05-04 00:36 GMT]


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:19
Italian to English
Jokes and folks May 4, 2010

Susanna Garcia wrote:

Definitely losing it - it's taken me until now to get the joke.

Suzi



Don't worry about it.

Not everyone shares my sense of humour.

C. Lee Punce


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:19
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
..... I'm just slow.... May 10, 2010

... It took me ages to get it... I could see the 2nd part, but missed the first....(untill I read it with a funny accent)....

(and I kept coming back to figure it out too)

Mr Stuw Pit
aka
Ed


 


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