Where can I find translation courses, or learning resources for becoming a translator?
Thread poster: Siobhan_W
Siobhan_W
Australia
Local time: 14:57
Spanish to English
Apr 6, 2013

I have wanted to be a translator for the last 3 years, and am finally in a stable situation in which I can pursue my dream. I want to be a freelancer from Spanish to English (I'm fluent in Spanish and a native speaker of English). I have looked around and would like to do some formal training. I Currently live in Australia and cannot find anything other then a masters in linguistics. I don't want to do a degree in translation, I would rather do a shorter course (maximum 2 years), but I don't want to move away from Brisbane either.

Are there any online courses or resources for learning and practicing translating? I have signed up for as many volunteer opportunities as I can find, but most want already certified translators ....


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:57
English to Polish
+ ...
University Apr 8, 2013

I really suggest a university course in translation, preferably some kind of formal degree, possibly a post-grad on top of your existing diplomas.

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Nicole Rodrigues  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 04:57
Portuguese
+ ...
Shorter and continuous options Apr 8, 2013

These links might help you:

http://www.ecpdwebinars.co.uk/events.html

http://www.entrepreneuriallinguist.com/entrepreneurial-linguist-workshops/

http://wantwords.co.uk/martastelmaszak/blog/ (she gives a 6 weeks course online every 3 months or so).

http://tragoraformacion.com/

Good luck!

Nicole


[Edited at 2013-04-08 08:08 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:57
Russian to English
+ ...
You, don't have to do Master's in translation but you definitely need some type of a college degree Apr 8, 2013

You don't really need any post-graduate degrees, if you want to concentrate on something other than scientific, academic writing, but you need some type of at least BA to be taken seriously, at least in the US, and then translation courses. I don't know what the level of your education is, but a high school, let's say, plus a three month course may not be enough, unless of course you have done some translation work before for some clients, and they know that you are really good in a particular field, but it may not be enough for new clients.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:57
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Master would be best, IMO Apr 8, 2013

I imagine you're young and just starting in your professional life, Siobhan? If that's true, you have little to offer translation clients at the moment without some sort of formal translation qualification. It's a little different for those of us who come into the industry after a first careerand many years of "life experience". I, for example, did a very basic course offered by WLS: www.wls.ie . But I'm not sure that would be a correct recommendation for you.

You say you're prepared to give 1-2 years to this study; in that case it would seem that a Master in translation would be ideal for you. I gather there are several distance learning courses given by universities (proper ones, not those who only exist as a box office number and who send you a few assignments then give you a worthless piece of paper, for a lot of money). Several names of universities have come up over the years, so spend some time searching here.

Also, the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) may be able to come up with some ideas.

It is possible to set yourself up as a translator in most countries with absolutely no qualifications or experience. However, those who do that can find it extremely difficult to find work that's sufficiently well-paid to constitute a career. At the rates they're offered, the number of words that need to be translated per day to make a living means that quality has to be sacrificed - and that's a slippery slope. You really need one of the following to give yourself a foothold:
- recognised qualifications in your source language(s), plus recognised qualification in translation
- extensive professional experience in your specialist areas (preferably in your source language(s) too)
- long residence in a country where your source language is spoken, with general adult life experience there.

When you're ready to set yourself up as a freelance translator (assuming that's what you want or need to do, rather than working as a salaried translator), it's a good idea to get some training in how to run a company, too. You won't just be translating: you'll be marketing your services, preparing quotes, negotiating with clients, issuing invoices, chasing payments, maintaining bookkeeping records, paying taxes and social security contributions...

By the way: I know it's common to look for volunteer work at the start of your career, and it's always nice to see that translators are willing to do pro bono work for the community (let's not confuse pro bono with "cloud volunteering" or simply "working for free"). But there's no way that NGOs are going to spare the time to teach you your job - you rarely get feedback. In many ways, it's something that's best left to experienced translators.

[Edited at 2013-04-08 09:23 GMT]


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Siobhan_W
Australia
Local time: 14:57
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
An add on to my question Apr 8, 2013

Thank you so much for all your comments, it has been very helpful!

I just wanted to ask - I would like to do the DipTrans exam eventually and so would like to study towards that. I am thinking about taking one of the tailored courses aimed specifically at this exam (Eg: Susanne James). I have lived in Columbia and in Chile, as well as traveled for over 2 years in south America (in rural villages) and Spain speaking only Spanish which I feel is given me a good cultural understanding as well as a bit of life experince perhaps?

I am very determined and will work very hard, I am not looking for a 'fast track' to a career in translation, but I feel this is a good option for study, after which I can gain experience before attempting to become a freelancer. A masters is not an option since I do not have a BA (because I don't want to commit to 4 years, when I feel I could learn the same in 2, and there are no degrees in translation where I live).

So after all that - Do you think it is appropriate? or do you think I'm getting ahead of myself?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:57
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Most translators are freelancers Apr 8, 2013

Siobhan_W wrote:
A masters is not an option since I do not have a BA (because I don't want to commit to 4 years, when I feel I could learn the same in 2, and there are no degrees in translation where I live).

I don't think anyone was suggesting a Bachelor in translation (I believe they're quite rare anyway). What would be more useful would be a Bachelor in Spanish or one in a non-languages area which would become your specialisation. My own daughter did a BSc in mechanical engineering with French - ideal for a translator (not that she is one). Specialisation really is essential for a translator in your pair. Suggestion: take a look at the translators' directory here on ProZ.com to find out how many ES>EN translators are registered here (about 43,000). Multiply by quite a few to find out how many competitors you will have. Then do another search, this time limiting the search to a specialist subject area. An example: there are fewer than 5000 here who specialise in Cooking. Specialisations have a particular importance here on ProZ.com, but you'll find that agencies the world over will be expecting you to specialise.
I would like to do the DipTrans exam eventually and so would like to study towards that.

That's a good qualification to have, but I believe they recommend you to have had at least 2 years of professional translating experience first. But look at that link I gave you as they do a course specifically for that.
I am not looking for a 'fast track' to a career in translation, but I feel this is a good option for study, after which I can gain experience before attempting to become a freelancer.

I know nothing about Australia, but here in Europe there are very few salaried jobs available for translators. Agencies employ a few very experienced translator/proofreaders and they provide unpaid internships for students during their studies. I believe it's very rare for them to take on inexperienced staff. Large companies used to have in-house translators, but most outsource nowadays to those agencies (and occasionally directly to freelancers). You might find work in an admin. job where translations are required from time to time, but that might not be ideal either: it's likely that there will be no feedback, no training and you could well find yourself having to work on texts where you know you aren't really capable of providing quality - not the best grounding for a freelancer. Clients expect the very best from us, which is why you hear so much about specialisations, and only translating into your best (normally your native) language.

I suspect that if you want to be a translator, fast-track or not (I don't think there are many of those actually), you'll have to bite the bullet and go for it as a freelancer. But be prepared for 3 months with practically no income (a part-time job of some sort is useful during that time) and probably over a year before you're feeling at all hopeful of making it your career. Most people need 2-3 years before they really feel established and are earning a reasonable living, month after month.


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