Starting out: Is undertaking a translation masters a good idea?
Thread poster: Angela G

Angela G
Italian to English
+ ...
Mar 2, 2013

A few years ago I gained my degree in Spanish and Italian and now I would like to move to Spain and establish myself as a translator there. I am aware of how difficult the situation is at the moment and so I thought that perhaps undertaking a translation masters there might be a good way to enter into the country.
I have seen an interesting course at the University of Salamanca which would also provide a supervised translation related internship.

I was wondering if having such a qualification would improve my job prospects or if it would be a waste of time?

Any advice or information would be much appreciated.

Thanks


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I don't think you could ever say that a Master in Translation is a waste of time for a translator. Mar 3, 2013

However, a Master, particularly when you have a language degree under your belt, may actually have quite a small impact on your ability to attract and retain clients, so I wouldn't advise anyone to do such a course simply for that purpose. The fact is that clients are looking for some indication that you'll do a good job, but they rarely have specific criteria in mind. Once you have experience, that generally is all they're interested in; and at the beginning of your career, you might find they're reluctant to give you work anyway, whatever qualifications you have (that "catch 22" of the inexperienced freelancer). But you say this course will give you the chance to gain experience of translating in a proper commercial environment, so that experience goes down on your CV - even if it isn't paid, it's professional experience.

I suppose it probably boils down to the usual: money.icon_smile.gif Certainly, living in Spain, the country where one of your source languages is spoken, will bring you great benefits, regardless of where you finally start up as a professional translator.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree with Sheila Mar 3, 2013

Sheila has said just about everything I would have. All I can add is that doing the "master" would mean you had something worthwhile to do while you wait for the freelance translation work to come in. The internship part also sounds interesting, so I'd definitely go for it.

 

ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 01:40
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Go for it! Mar 3, 2013

I believe a graduate degree is definitely not a waste of time at all. A masters degree will give you a wider perspective, and will give you an opportunity to center yourself among other things. Besides, the experience of living in another country is priceless. So, I would recommend you to go to the graduate school in Spain.

 

Angela G
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Mar 3, 2013

Thanks everyone for all the advice. I will definitely look into the masters now. As you all said, living in Spain would be invaluable experience whether I do the masters or not and the internship might provide a chance to forge some contacts.

Thanks again, just one more question...

For those of you that are based in Spain, do you think that there are opportunities there at the moment for native speakers of English?


 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
Masters Mar 4, 2013

If you can afford it, I would definately go for it. You could always teach English on the side to help you fund your studies. I actually know people who did this masters and were pleased with it. It includes legal translating too, which is good.

The masters will definately get you work here in Spain, without it you would struggle. Agencies, nowadays, must work to the European standard. For the Brits, that means a language degree, but Spanish agencies are not very convinced and would much prefer to see a masters. In their eyes, you would be qualified, without the masters, you wouldn't be.

As for work, price dictates everything in the Spanish translating market. If you work for 0,05 cents a word, you will be swamped within no time...

Good luck


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Your clients don't have to be in Spain Mar 4, 2013

Angela G wrote:
For those of you that are based in Spain, do you think that there are opportunities there at the moment for native speakers of English?

If you're talking about salaried jobs, they're very few and far between for everybody in Spain at the moment. Here on Fuerteventura (which I accept probably isn't totally representative of Spain as a whole), we have 35% official unemployment, and for the 18-25 age range it's a staggering 50%.icon_eek.gif So it definitely isn't the time to go looking for "ordinary" jobs to tide you over while you study, e.g. shop or restaurant work. English teaching, OTOH, is something that very few of those unemployed people would be able to do, so you might find work there.

But you'll probably want to set yourself up as a freelancer in the longer term, so why not target the world? You certainly don't need to restrict your client base to Spain. I've been freelancing here for 9 months, and I don't have a single Spanish client! Mind you, I don't offer Spanish (yet), so maybe it's less surprising, but my clients aren't all in French or English speaking countries either. You should certainly not neglect all the other countries in the EU and elsewhere, some of which provide much more lucrative markets.


 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
In-house position Mar 4, 2013

In either Madrid or Barcelona, you should be able to get an in-house position too if you are interested. They don't pay much, but you can learn things. I haven't seen any ads recently for translating positions in banks or law firms, but they are relatively common too. They pay a bit more but you will need some solid experience behind you. HTH.

 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
I don't really see the value Mar 4, 2013

to you as someone who translates into English of a Masters in translation from a Spanish university. The Masters in question looks as though it is for translation into Spanish, which could put you at a disadvantage compared to your classmates if your mother tongue (and the language you intend to work into) is English.
Equally, the Masters awards 60 ECTS points which is fairly low for a Masters, especially considering that you can get the same amount of points with a DipTrans, which is only an exam, and which I think will be regarded more highly by clients looking for someone who translates into English.
It is much cheaper to study in Spain than in the UK certainly but, unless you can find a Masters in translation into English at a public university in Spain, you could risk wasting your time by perhaps not preparing for your future career in the right language combination.

I also agree with Sheila's comments about your location and the situation there not mattering much if you are working as a freelance translator. I also have very few Spanish clients and I do translate from Spanish into English. Most agencies don't only offer the languages of the country they're based in so agencies all over the world have the potential to offer your language combinations to clients and therefore have the need for freelance translators with those combinations.


 
Believe in Yourself! Mar 4, 2013

Agreed. You as a professional must use your knowledge of the languages, cultures and subject matter while converting one language to another. Since you are fluent in two languages, it will be easier for you to translate. Go ahead and all the best!

 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ongoing debate Mar 5, 2013

Marie-Hélène raises an interesting point. Naturally most of your classmates will be Spanish. I have studied translation both in a monolingual and dual lingual setting, and I prefer the latter, but not everyone does. I think that Spanish is a challenging language to translate and so I have always appreciated native insight as to the meaning of the Spanish text. For other English native speakers, the classes have been a bit slow...

The IOL transdip isn't a recognised qualification in Spain, agencies barely know about it. But naturally it is the preferred qualification for Britain. You wouldn't have to choose though, once you are freelancing, all costs incurred by the transdip can be written off, so you would effectively get it for free.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:40
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
my Masters Mar 5, 2013

I studied at ESIT in France, so most of the other students were French. However there was a significant groupe of native English speakers and our course was tailored to our native language. It's highly likely that the course in Spain will offer similar opportunities

 

Elena Volkova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:40
English to Russian
+ ...
A Masters in a separate subject Mar 7, 2013

If you decide to go down the Masters route I would advise that you consider obtaining a degree in a different subject, not translation. That way you can use it as your area of expertise in translation - and you should have one anyway. I have been in the business for 9 years and found that while the tricks of the trade can be learnt in practice, gaining an understanding of another subject matter (law, finance, etc.) is way more complex - and yet such knowledge was most valuable when translating in that field.

Also, should you decide on a career change, having a degree in a different subject will give you more options.


 


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