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Demand for translation work from Spanish to English - feedback needed
Thread poster: roverbond

roverbond  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:19
German to English
+ ...
Jun 10, 2012

Hello,

I live an hour from London and wondered if anyone can tell me if there is much demand for translation work from Spanish to English (which is my mother tongue) I have barely done any translating as i have worked as a teacher in a secondary education for the past 15 years but have decided that i need a change of career. Is it worth pursuing this?

thanks

Roverbond


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:19
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Spanish>English Jun 10, 2012

My impression is that of the into English pairs, the Spanish>English pair is the one with the most competition.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Little stability Jun 11, 2012

As out colleague notes, there is enormous competition in this pair, and not only from L.Am. "bilingual" sweatshop operators and chancers. If you are looking for the relative stability and regular income associated with State sector teaching work, I'd forget translation as an option. If, however, you are resilient enough - both personally and financially - to roll with the punches until you get established, you might give it a go, but it's better to have source of income to fall back on.

Most of the native English translators I know here in Spain started out in TEFL, and some of us still do the occasional stint, maybe on summer TEFL courses, but again the private sector is a minefield and the State system in Spain... the least said the better.

Whavetever you choose, I wish you the best of luck, although my advice is to leave any rose tinted specs at homeicon_wink.gif

[Edited at 2012-06-11 07:45 GMT]

PS: In the London area you might find work, either in-house or freelancing, but most agencies or clients will want someone with experience, which could prove a stumbling block until you get up and running. You might find the rates and conditions offered disappointing too.

[Edited at 2012-06-11 07:49 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-06-11 07:50 GMT]


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:19
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree 100% with Neil Jun 11, 2012

I make these same essential points whenever I'm asked for career advice by translators (or prospective translators) just starting out.

You are talking about a language pair in which highly qualified, experienced, and efficient translators sometimes experience unnerving dry spells. If (as is by definition the case) you don't meet this definition, then you would be, realistically, in a position of "taking what you can get" at low rates.

The smart way to start out would be to take on projects on a part-time basis while working a steady full-time job. This will allow you to have more freedom of choice regarding the projects (and rates) that you accept, as you would not be solely dependent on your income from translation.

Good luck!


 

Paul Adie  Identity Verified
Germany
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes and yes. Jun 11, 2012

I can only agree with what's been said above. I've got 6 years' experience working as a freelancer and in-house translator, and I still had dry spells when I only did freelance work. Luckily, I translate from other languages and have other interests that I'd like to explore, maybe a source of work in the future.

However, you need someone to verse you on how translation really works. It's not nice and frilly like the texts you get at university with extensive deadlines. And, in my opinion, you really do need a CAT tool, even more so if you intend to translate medical, financial or legal documents.

What about combining teaching and translation? I don't know how that would work in practice as I was never a teacher.

If you're good and you like it, go for it. Good luck!

Paul.

Edited to add: It's not all gloom. I've only worked in translation since graduating and I've lived well, got some savings, am not too frugal and I would like to think it would continue that way.

[Edited at 2012-06-11 14:14 GMT]


 

roverbond  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:19
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
other options Jun 11, 2012

Thank you very much for that useful advice.
Yep I have a nice permanent job at a school nearby for two days a week and just wanted to supplement it with some translating, i also could translate from German to English but i guess that would be just as competitive??
Would it be an idea to offer free translations for charities at the beginning? i had thought of places like Amnesty.. I would not be worried about low rates at the start.

More advice would be very welcome!

roverbond


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:19
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
German>English Jun 11, 2012

roverbond wrote:

Yep I have a nice permanent job at a school nearby for two days a week and just wanted to supplement it with some translating, i also could translate from German to English but i guess that would be just as competitive??


Far less competitive than Spanish>English, but again that is just my impression.


 

Paul Adie  Identity Verified
Germany
Spanish to English
+ ...
More Jun 11, 2012

I would start with German to English to be honest. I have worked with German agencies: they pay better, professional staff, pay on time, pleasant to work with. Just my personal experience.

Don't undersell your translation skills. If you're good, charge accordingly. Otherwise, you're polluting the business.

I did charity work too at the beginning to get experience, which led to my first paid jobs. I do the odd piece for charities now and then, but not as much as I'd like.

Edited to add: From what I can see, I would say there's more competition in Spanish to English, but it's because there's a glut of people who think they can string a sentence together in Spanish so that makes them a translator. There are a lot of guff translations in this combination going around.



[Edited at 2012-06-11 18:18 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-06-11 18:19 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My 2 cents Jun 11, 2012

roverbond wrote:
i also could translate from German to English but i guess that would be just as competitive??

Certainly competitive, but it seems the rates are better than ES>EN (though I'm only an observer in both those pairs).
Would it be an idea to offer free translations for charities at the beginning? i had thought of places like Amnesty..

If you can get it, that would be good. They often ask for experience, though.
I would not be worried about low rates at the start.

Well, you should be! Translate for NGOs by all means - many of us do that - but translating for below-market rates for commercial concerns doesn't do any good either to the industry as a whole or to you. You'll find it extremely difficult to ask the same clients for a reasonable rate later. Much better idea is to go for jobs at the normal rates, from clients who look like they'll treat you as a partner/supplier (rather than as a down-trodden employee), and pay a mentor (can be arranged through ProZ.com) to proofread your work before submission. Also, invest spare cash in a basic qualification.

Good luck

Sheila


 

roverbond  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:19
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Qualification Jun 11, 2012

Okay! Sheila you mentioned a basic qualification is there one you could recommend? I did translation as part of my degree many years back and actually did 2 semesters at the dolmetscher schule in Heidelberg. I like the idea of pushing the German side more it would need some work but I'm willing to do it.
I do appreciate everyone's comments!


 

roverbond  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:19
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Basic Qualification you recommend Jun 11, 2012

Okay! Sheila you mentioned a qualification which one would you recommend?
I did 2 semesters at the Dolmetscher institut in Heidelberg 20 yrs ago so it's all a bit rusty.
Any ideas about charities who may need volunteers for translating?
Again all responses greatly appreciated!


 

Sian Cooper  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:19
French to English
+ ...
Spanish more competitive than French? Really? Jun 23, 2012

Hi, guys, I'm a bit late on this one, but no matter, I hope.

I'm coming in as a new freelance translator, looking where and how to build business, too. I offer FR and ES - EN, and I am surprised to hear how competitive you see the ES world as, just going from the jobs here. Looking at ProZ jobs in those pairs, quote via ProZ, the FR-EN jobs regularly get 30+ quotes; the Spanish ones under 15.

Now, it may of course be that generally Spanish jobs are actually out there in US/South American agencies, and most of the market just does not come through ProZ. But the market that does, does not seem to be that heavily targeted.

Any comments to enlighten my naivety, please?

Thanks!

PS I'm going to have to learn German and Italian really fast, I think... and Dutch. And probably something really obscure. I'm going to be so poor! icon_eek.gif

[Edited at 2012-06-23 22:42 GMT]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:19
Hebrew to English
From what I'm told...... Jun 23, 2012

The ES>EN market faces extensive competition from Latin America/South America. There's probably a few Portuguese translators too who think it's "close enough" (this certainly happens in the Portuguese market - Spanish translators who think it's "close enough").
If the Spanish jobs on ProZ don't garner as much attention it might be because many ProZians refuse to compete with South Americans on price (and let's face it 99.99% of all jobs on ProZ are won on price). Maybe more ES>EN translators are tired of this race.

In addition, I'm not sure French faces the same level of competition from its former colonies.

Although they are both notorious language pairs when it comes to competition.

However, as you can see I don't work in these pairs so I'm going on what I've been told by fellow ProZians.

[Edited at 2012-06-23 23:53 GMT]


 

roverbond  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:19
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
German to Eng Jun 24, 2012

S_Cooper wrote:

Hi, guys, I'm a bit late on this one, but no matter, I hope.

I'm coming in as a new freelance translator, looking where and how to build business, too. I offer FR and ES - EN, and I am surprised to hear how competitive you see the ES world as, just going from the jobs here. Looking at ProZ jobs in those pairs, quote via ProZ, the FR-EN jobs regularly get 30+ quotes; the Spanish ones under 15.

Now, it may of course be that generally Spanish jobs are actually out there in US/South American agencies, and most of the market just does not come through ProZ. But the market that does, does not seem to be that heavily targeted.

Any comments to enlighten my naivety, please?

Thanks!

PS I'm going to have to learn German and Italian really fast, I think... and Dutch. And probably something really obscure. I'm going to be so poor! icon_eek.gif

[Edited at 2012-06-23 22:42 GMT]


So are you saying that there is enough work of German to Eng to give you a few hours work a month??


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:19
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Learning languages takes time Jun 24, 2012

S_Cooper wrote:

Hi, guys, I'm a bit late on this one, but no matter, I hope.

I'm coming in as a new freelance translator, looking where and how to build business, too. I offer FR and ES - EN, and I am surprised to hear how competitive you see the ES world as, just going from the jobs here. Looking at ProZ jobs in those pairs, quote via ProZ, the FR-EN jobs regularly get 30+ quotes; the Spanish ones under 15.

Now, it may of course be that generally Spanish jobs are actually out there in US/South American agencies, and most of the market just does not come through ProZ. But the market that does, does not seem to be that heavily targeted.

Any comments to enlighten my naivety, please?

Thanks!

PS I'm going to have to learn German and Italian really fast, I think... and Dutch. And probably something really obscure. I'm going to be so poor! icon_eek.gif

[Edited at 2012-06-23 22:42 GMT]


If you need something to increase your chances of getting work fast, I would say it's better to specialise in a given subject rather than learn another language. Getting up to speed for translation in a language is a long-term process... and you would still need to have a speciality for the other European languages. And learning an obscure language takes even more time because they're mostly really different to those you already speak. And then if you find that the market for that language is already cornered, you're stuck.


 
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