Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4] >
Considering a career change
Thread poster: Red5
Jul 14, 2012

Hello,

I am a middle age guy considering a career shift from software architecture to language translation (English to Spanish). As a software architect I do a lot of writing, but I have not done any translation work professionally. The only related experience I have is 6 years of writing and designing natural language processing applications for the marketing industry combining semantic parsing and artificial intelligence techniques to analyze consumer preferences segmented by various demographic criteria.
As far as credentials, I have a BS.BA with a minor in CS. from an accredited University and 18 years of experience in programming, software architecture, and management primarily in the market research, marketing, and e-commerce industries.

The question is: do you feel this is a feasible career move or do you think I am way off since I do not have a Masters in translation or equivalent degree / experience?

I appreciate any feedback! icon_smile.gif


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:48
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends Jul 14, 2012

You don't give your reasons for wanting to change, which makes me wonder...

From your post, your English seems native level. If you are a native speaker I'd recommend translating INTO English from Spanish rather than the other way round. There is more demand. Translation is the SP-ENG pair is very competitive, but your IT background should mean you have little or no problems with the technical side, tools etc, although it's not an easy profession to get into if you are looking for high earnings, unless you already have connections to help find possible potential clients.

Best of luck anyway, whatever you decideicon_wink.gif

[Edited at 2012-07-14 16:41 GMT]


 

Red5
TOPIC STARTER
Reasons for wanting to change Jul 14, 2012

Thank you for your response, neilmac.

I’m just burnt out and I need a career change. I know breaking in won’t be easy, but I do welcome the challenge. I have a passion for language. Words make me come alive and… and I don’t want to say anything bad about IT… how is that?

My native language is Spanish, btw.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:48
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Welcome to ProZ.com! Jul 14, 2012

You have a very good writing style in English, and I would imagine the same would be true of your Spanish. That's one of the main hurdles to overcome for a translator. Accuracy alone isn't enough - the reader has to want to read your text, without knowing it's a translation. I would say you probably have a very good chance of creating a specialist niche for yourself. It might be best for you to stick very closely to your areas of subject expertise. Maybe you have contacts that will enable you to deal directly with end clients rather than going through translation agencies.

Nevertheless, I think it would be wise for you to do some sort of basic translation training, simply to find out the accepted ways of translating some things: acronyms, foreign terms, proper nouns, etc. There are some good distance learning ones around. I thought the one I did provided very good value for money.

Good luck!

Sheila


 

Red5
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Jul 14, 2012

Thank you, Sheila! You reply is very encouraging. I’ve been thinking about this career change for a few years and now time is a good time to make it happen.

I agree that doing some translation training would be a good idea. You mentioned you did one that provided good value for the money, is it still available? Could you point me to their website please?

Thanks again,
Alejandro


 

Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:48
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Just go ahead Jul 14, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:

You have a very good writing style in English, and I would imagine the same would be true of your Spanish. That's one of the main hurdles to overcome for a translator. Accuracy alone isn't enough - the reader has to want to read your text, without knowing it's a translation. I would say you probably have a very good chance of creating a specialist niche for yourself. It might be best for you to stick very closely to your areas of subject expertise. Maybe you have contacts that will enable you to deal directly with end clients rather than going through translation agencies.

Nevertheless, I think it would be wise for you to do some sort of basic translation training, simply to find out the accepted ways of translating some things: acronyms, foreign terms, proper nouns, etc. There are some good distance learning ones around. I thought the one I did provided very good value for money.

Good luck!

Sheila


I'm so glad Sheila liked your English too. Almost everything you write says you could be a successful translator. Right background, right skills, right feeling for style. But specialise, specialise, specialise or you'll be competing with colleagues who make 10 euro per hour.

Good luck,
Gerard


 

Anne Bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:48
English to French
It's possible... that's what I did. Jul 15, 2012

Just like you, I was a software engineer, had all possible scientific diploma (Math, Physics, Computer Science, Statistics), but no translation degree.
First, I made several trials (mainly, translating IT books). A few years later, I took a sabbatical leave and went to the U.S. to start my own translation business in the Silicon Valley. I created an LLC, and passed the ATA certification.
It didn't turn as expected, though, as I was denied a visa.
I also discovered that it was difficult to make a living with IT translations, because so many people claim they are experts.
At the end of my sabbatical leave, I went back to my IT job, but kept my translation job too (I made it clear to my employer). It was a lot of work during a few years, working as IT engineer during the day, and translating in the evening and during the week-ends, but this way, when I turned to full-time translator, I had a good flow of work already.
I have improved my rates, little by little. It still doesn't compare with the salary of an IT engineer, but I hope it will, some day.
It's an extremely competitive environment, in which IT experience is really overlooked. But... there is a HUGE problem of quality, and thus a real need for good translators (good writers, I should say).
As I made the move, I see no reason why you wouldn't be able to do the same!


 

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:48
Portuguese to English
+ ...
New Translator Advice Jul 15, 2012

I made a similar shift, from Maths Teacher first to English Teacher for executives and then to translator - the first shift because I could not cope with the kids, and the second because I was spending hours on buses travelling around the immense city (population 15 million). Now I can work at home and earn more with less hassle.

In my case I have not specialised because my subject areas (Mathematics and School Administration) seem to be in poor demand. I specialise in translations into English rather than the other way around (as suggested here). One problem in Brazil, however, (don't know if it applies in your case) is that people who has been to Miami for a week think they can teach English or even translate, which, together with the lowering of rates, has a negative effect on quality. Hence the need for specialisation (not in my case, see above).

One person mentions sabbatical leave. Why not take this opportunity and attend a ProZ event or conference? There is a Conference in September in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and I'll be there, as also shall many important translators, including some from Spanish-speaking countries like Argentina and Peru. If Rio is too far for you, ProZ has a list of conferences around the world, there was one in Barcelona I remember but it may have already been held.

I am also impressed with your English. If your Spanish is the same level, you are sure to do well as a translator. The issue of acronyms etc depends on the client. I have one client who insists all measurements are converted into Imperial units while others do not; some translate company names and others don't - as they say, there are two rules: 1. The client is always right; 2. When the client is not right, then rule 1) applies.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:48
Chinese to English
Getting started is fairly straightforward Jul 15, 2012

I've been a translator almost since leaving university, so I can't tell you much about the difficulties of a career change. But I can say that getting into translation is fairly easy. It's a job with pretty much zero barriers to entry: qualifications are nice, but not a necessity; you don't need to be located anywhere in particular; you don't have to join any organisations; you don't have to buy any special equipment. Just a computer and an email account, and you're sorted.*

Particularly for you, Red - your language skills are obviously great, and your areas of in-depth knowledge are in great demand, so you should find entry into the industry no great difficulty.

The hard part comes later: establishing long-term relationships with clients to offset the perpetual panic of freelance life, maintaining decent rates when all about you are seeing theirs hacked away at by low-quality translators, fending off the constant attacks from the MT (machine translation) monster.

But if you can get comfortable in it, it is a great life: working from home, flexible hours, reasonable income, a constant flow of new and challenging texts to work on - lifelong learning built into the very fabric of the job. Good luck and enjoy it!


*some of these things can be very useful later, but you don't need them to start out.


 

Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:48
German to English
Keeping your knowledge current Jul 15, 2012

Hi Red5
by now you'll understand what some people have to do to get established, if you take the plunge your experience of that process might come close to some of the stories (working across time zones for an agency that may or may not pay up, dealing with downtime, the uncertainties of knowing whether your marketing will pay off etc) but rest assured it will be unique.
FWIW my view of your situation is that a sabbatical might work out, to get established, but that when you become accepted as a reliable worker in your chosen field you might find that you need to keep your industry knowledge up to date. This is somewhat a description of my position: I am not a fulltimer, but I do translate in the field of my 'day job'. Would I be able to keep up to scratch if the day job disappeared and I had to go full time with the language work? It makes me think.
What I'm saying is that there's a market and potentially a bonus for reliable part timers who are committed to following their industry. Agencies always want to reduce their risks, and reliable, knowledgeable and accurate translators give them that warm low-risk feeling. Set out your stall, be open about the amount of work that you can take on, let your partners know that your work has to follow certain workflows and schedules, and then they can decide about whether to work with you, with the full expectation of no surprises.
Anyhow - enough from me..!
Good luck, whatever route you choose
DB


 

Natalia Pedrosa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:48
Member (2012)
English to Spanish
+ ...
As a colleague has pointed out Jul 15, 2012

The hard part comes later: establishing long-term relationships with clients to offset the perpetual panic of freelance life, maintaining decent rates when all about you are seeing theirs hacked away at by low-quality translators, fending off the constant attacks from the MT (machine translation) monster.

I think that getting into the industry is actually the easiest part of all. The tough thing is to get long-term clients who stand by you and demand your services on a regular basis. Then again you have that leading edge that is being specialized in a demanded and 'difficult' area of expertise.

I think you will make it without any major problems.

Best of luck and welcome to the translation jungle!

Natalie


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:48
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
WLS training courses Jul 15, 2012

Red5 wrote:
I agree that doing some translation training would be a good idea. You mentioned you did one that provided good value for the money, is it still available? Could you point me to their website please?

It's on my profile so it isn't a secret, so here's the link: http://www.wls.ie/tranbroc.htm

Sheila


 

Red5
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Jul 15, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Red5 wrote:
I agree that doing some translation training would be a good idea. You mentioned you did one that provided good value for the money, is it still available? Could you point me to their website please?

It's on my profile so it isn't a secret, so here's the link: http://www.wls.ie/tranbroc.htm

Sheila


Thanks again!


 

Red5
TOPIC STARTER
Thank You All! Jul 15, 2012

Thank you for your sharing your experiences and tips. You have given me a lot to think about. Competition and declining salaries are a bit of a concern, so I will proceed with caution and specialize.

 

Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:48
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
My opinion Jul 16, 2012

I have a diploma in translation, but looking back I must say that I didn't learn anything at school (nothing!!!) that helped me to be a good translator. I don't know anything about the courses Sheila recommends, but in my opinion you learn translating by doing.

You need to have good language skills, you have to be very good in the target language, preferably a native speaker, but what helps most - I think - is to have good writing skills. Most people who never worked with language before don't even know how to write a proper letter, and if this is the case it doesn't help much that they are specialized in a certain area or that they know the source language very well.

A friend, who is very good at writing marketing texts in German and who speaks English almost like a native speaker once told me that he thought he could be a translator, too. I gave him half a page to translate, and it took him 4 hours to finish the job. The result was ok, but I could tell that the English source text had (badly) influenced his style in German, and besides that the time he took to finish this job was much too long. At this speed he would have starved as a translator.

These are problems you are faced with when you start translating, and I am not sure if a translation course will help you with that. It's experience that makes you solve language problems faster...


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Considering a career change

Advanced search







SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running, helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features, ensures new

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search