Starting out as new
Thread poster: canadadutch

French to English
Dec 30, 2010

I have often thought about starting out as a translator but with English as a mother tongue and German, French and Dutch as source languages, I wonder if the market is already saturated with people who would offer this, in particular from French into English? Having worked in legal-related jobs for the best part of nearly eight years I would imagine that would be the specialism I would offer. I joined this forum a few years back in the hope of finding out some useful information. Languages are, I would like to think, one of my few strong points and it seems a shame to never be making any use of them.

I did a translation MA in 2002 but with translator agencies not interested and simply not bothered unless you have years and years and years of experience, starting up can seem like an insurmountable hurdle.

Is there any merit in starting out doing it 'on the side' in addition to your usual day job? Would you need to set yourself up with indemnity insurance for something where you just don't know if it will work out or not? Plus, working 9 to 5 and only being free in the evening and at weekends, your availability is somewhat limited. Any way around that? If it takes off then you can of course always resign from your usual job and then do it full time but before it gets to that stage then better of course to keep a predictable source of income.

I would find it hard to imagine there haven't been people in a similar position so if I could hear some experiences then I would really appreciate that. I am not trying to have a moan but it can be frustrating at times nonetheless.

Apologies for any spelling errors I may have overlooked - am typing this from a French keyboard in France, am used to a QWERTY one in the UK, where I live.


Ashley Wans  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'm doing it Apr 8, 2011

Hi canadadutch,

I've just started professionally translating within the last couple months (I do have some previous unpaid and volunteer interpreting and translation experience). I have kept my part-time day job, and so far I am picking up freelance projects with what I feel like is a good rate of success considering my newness to the field. I am now VERY busy between translating, working on promoting myself as a translator, applying to and bidding on jobs, working at my day job, and the rest of my life. However, it is possible to balance all these things provided you have a clear plan for how to manage them and if/when you want to switch to translating full time. If I continue to be successful, I plan to go full time at the end of this year.

That said, remember that you will need to budget a lot of time for looking for work and applying to jobs. It's a matter of marketing yourself the best you can, and then sending out enough copies of your CV to make sure that it will end up in the hands of the minority percentage that will hire less experienced translators.

The more projects you get, the more experience you gain, and thus you become more employable as time passes, even translating part time. Just try to learn from each project so that you are better qualified for the next one.


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