Future and Permanent Occupation
Thread poster: Alex ST

Alex ST  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 01:11
Member (2009)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Jul 19, 2010

Dear Colleagues,


As freelance translator there is more flexible time. But, are you confident to survive with this profession for future so that you are sure to leave your permanent job? Since everybody could be a freelance translator, then at a point of time there should be a saturated profession where the demand is less than the supply. Thanks to share your thoughts.

Alex


 

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz (X)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 20:11
English to Polish
+ ...
heh Jul 19, 2010

Alex ST wrote:

Since everybody could be a freelance translator,


I think you'll unleash hell with this remarkicon_smile.gif

then at a point of time there should be a saturated profession where the demand is less than the supply. Thanks to share your thoughts.


If this theory was to hold, why isn't it "saturated" already? Whence the imbalance?


 

Alex ST  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 01:11
Member (2009)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
supply could be over demand for freelance translator Jul 19, 2010

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:
If this theory was to hold, why isn't it "saturated" already?


Well, we never know when the saturated will happen since this involves the entire world. But, it could be.


 

Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:11
Member
Dutch to English
+ ...
Saturation not feasible Jul 19, 2010

Alex ST wrote:

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:
If this theory was to hold, why isn't it "saturated" already?


Well, we never know when the saturated will happen since this involves the entire world. But, it could be.


No, I do not believe it will be saturated. If you are good and you have an established reputation, you will always have sufficient work. I used to be afraid of saying NO but I have had to do it (too many requests) and nothing bad happenedicon_smile.gif. These days I pick what I want to work on. I still work too many hours but now it is by choice.

I do not believe there are sufficient qualified translators to cover all translation needs.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:11
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A little correction Jul 19, 2010

Alex ST wrote:
Since everybody could be a freelance translator...

Let me correct this sentence a little bit. Indeed, "everybody COULD TRY TO BECOME a freelance translator". This is a very difficult industry requiring many skills, hard work, and a desire to excel, and every day we see people stepping out after months (or even years) trying to make a living in the midst of a fiercely competitive market.

Yes, trying to become a freelance translator and make a living of it is very much open to all the daring, but success (i.e. having continuous work from kind customers at reasonable rates) is a very different matter.


 

Sonoko Enami  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 03:11
Member (2010)
English to Japanese
No saturation Jul 20, 2010

I have to disagree, Alex.

Fortunately (or unfortunately!), translation is not an occupation lucrative enough to attract everybody, and it's not easy money, especially for the first few years when newcomers have to struggle just to make ends meet.

I've seen people who give up staying in this field after a year or two when their income was less than that of a job at a fast food joint.

I live in Japan, so the situation may be different in other regions, but at least here, you could make more money working in a bakery, for instance, unless you excel in translating and you are good at marketing your translation services.

Sonoko


 

Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:11
Member (2008)
English to French
Is your question rhetorical or is it about yourself? Jul 20, 2010

Reading through the thread the thought that pops up in my head is "Yes, I guess everyone could translate, but not everyone should."

And the same goes for painting, poetry, photography, creative writing, music etc.

These are all careers that can be quite lucrative if you "make it" but if you don't you'll either have to do it as a side-line or a hobby.

Thing about how many people you know with "real" jobs who take gigs to play guitar or drums just for the fun of it, now ask a professional musician if he or she feels threatened by these fly-by-night artists and the answer is no.

Companies that hire amateurs (usually) do so knowingly as a compromise between something free (playing the radio/mp3s in the bar/google translate) and a professional (well-paid musicians/ well-paid translator). And when push comes to shove, they'll fall back to the free solution and rarely, if ever, upgrade.

So there is room at the top, it's the bottom that overwhelmed in our industry at the moment.


 

Alex ST  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 01:11
Member (2009)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Our room is narrower and more translators must give up Jul 20, 2010

Arianne Farah wrote:
So there is room at the top, it's the bottom that overwhelmed in our industry at the moment.


Thanks for all answers. I feel the situation but most importantly I consider all situations at globe. You know there are always new comers in translation business and media has reported that translation industry becomes the most lucrative business. It will stimulate more translators, no matter amateurs or professionals, to compete more seriously. Agencies are growing, looking for the cheapest translators (sometimes without considering the quality, or they can't look through it just deciding by the cheapest service). Machine translations and online TM(s) are more sophisticated and scoping more areas and fields. So, it looks to me that it's correct there is room at the top, however, that room becomes narrower. That's from my point of view. Perhaps, you have different angle?


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:11
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Some wrong judgements in my opinion Jul 20, 2010

Please allow me to give my opinion about things I believe you got wrong:

Alex ST wrote:
It will stimulate more translators, no matter amateurs or professionals, to compete more seriously.

Yes, but jobs and money don't come for trying, but for achieving. Honestly I cannot see an amateur doing the job of most translators here, who have to master very tricky materials on a daily basis.

Alex ST wrote:
Agencies are growing, looking for the cheapest translators (sometimes without considering the quality, or they can't look through it just deciding by the cheapest service).

SOME agencies (a minority) are pushing down rates, but there is a whole host of good agencies out there who require quality and are ready to pay for it, the same way their customers want quality work and have a budget for it.

Alex ST wrote:
Machine translations and online TM(s) are more sophisticated and scoping more areas and fields.

Actually the kind of stuff translated with MT is stuff that would have never been translated if MT did not exist, since people who want it translated don't have the money for a human translation, not even at the lowest rates. MT is not eating away any of our work today. I cannot tell in 20 years time, but this is what happens today.

Alex ST wrote:
So, it looks to me that it's correct there is room at the top, however, that room becomes narrower.

This is not true. International trade and globalisation have created a huge market for translation, and the top of the market has kept growing. Proof of this is that most translators you can talk to in Proz.com are all busy during the year, and Proz.com has an awful lot of users. Maybe the market has shrunk a bit today because of the bad economic climate, but as soon as global economy picks up again, quality translation will surely keep growing.


 

Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:11
Italian to English
+ ...
Amateurs translating Jul 20, 2010

[quote]Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:




Yes, but jobs and money don't come for trying, but for achieving. Honestly I cannot see an amateur doing the job of most translators here, who have to master very tricky materials on a daily basis.

[quote]

Sorry, Tomás, but I have to disagree, Kudoz is already full of amateurs trying to master very tricky materials on a daily basis - and doing so with the help of experts.

Suzi


 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:11
German to English
+ ...
Not worried Jul 20, 2010

I've been full-time freelance for almost 10 years now with no end in sight, so I'm not particularly worried. Most people in the US, even those who speak another language besides English, have precious little idea of what a translator or interpreter actually does. We have to push and push to get foreign languages taught in the schools. It's a great profession, but not one graduates are rushing toward in droves, at least here.

 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:11
French to English
Excess supply Jul 20, 2010

Marijke Singer wrote:

Alex ST wrote:

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:
If this theory was to hold, why isn't it "saturated" already?


Well, we never know when the saturated will happen since this involves the entire world. But, it could be.


I do not believe there are sufficient qualified translators to cover all translation needs.


One could argue that not all translation necessarily calls for 'qualified' translators.icon_smile.gif

As Arianne has hinted, the way that the cheap/cruddy end of the market operates would suggest that there is indeed excess supply at that end of things. Not so for the good quality end. The trouble is, too much of the market is perceived as the cheap end by those buying translations (see also theory of the market for lemons).

All that said, and without wishing to be unkind to non-native speakers, it would be good to clarify whether the OP meant "everyone" or "anyone".


 


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