How to start translation career?
Thread poster: Yasaman

United Kingdom
Local time: 20:26
Jun 11, 2013

Hi everyone,

I was borne and raised in Iran, so my native language is Farsi. I've been living outside of Iran since 2010 (3 years in USA and UK since March 2013). I've studied English for years and I speak in English fluently. If I want to translate English books into Farsi in the future, what steps do you recommend to take? what classes should I take? Do I need a certificate?

I would love the opportunity to voluntary assist a translator to learn more about this field. Or would you suggest any other kind of voluntary job that might be more helpful?

Any comment r feedback is very much appreciated!


[Edited at 2013-06-11 11:30 GMT]


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:26
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi. You may consider studying English and English literature Jun 11, 2013

as your major at any university. I don't know what kind of education you have, but that will be very helpful. And then you can participate in seminars and read materials about literary translation, and I am sure will will learn the trade, if you really love it. You must like writing in the language into which you want to translate. Some creative writing courses in Farsi might be of help -- even online, if there is anything like that.

They have one at the University of Toronto -- maybe you can take it online.

There is also one at the University of Edinburg.

[Edited at 2013-06-11 14:29 GMT]


Alex Alexandre  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:26
Portuguese to English
+ ... webinars to start you off Jun 11, 2013

Hi Yasaman

Like you, I'm am just at the beginning of attempting translating as a career option, even though I have been doing non-paid translations for years. I am also a face-to-face interpreter.
I would suggest watching/participating in the webinars provided by as a way to get some ideas on how to get started. Recently I attended two myself [“Starting Out as a Freelance Translator” and “Making More Money: Presenting Yourself Professionally to Attract Clients.”] which, I found, were very useful.
I would say that having the right qualifications should undoubtedly help, but having an excellent command of both the target and source languages, as well as competence in translating, should be enough to get you started and you can always continue to develop yourself professionally by obtaining any qualifications you find suitable as you go along.
I hope this helps.

Best of luck



Woodstock  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:26
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Sources of information Jun 11, 2013

Lots of information right here on ProZ

about getting started:

Proz is a gold mine of useful information. The articles and forum threads (1st and 3rd link) are free, of course, and some of the courses in the second link are, too. Use your fields of study or work experience to your advantage and specialize in those. Above all, translate ONLY into your native language, the one you grew up with and were educated in, at least to start. Only then can you guarantee good quality and idiomatic language. You can always explore translating into other languages if you achieve native fluency and cultural expertise in them later on.

Best of luck to you!


United Kingdom
Local time: 20:26
Thank you! Jun 12, 2013

Thank you all for helpful responsesicon_smile.gif



Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:26
Member (2007)
+ ...
Mentoring is possible here Jun 12, 2013

Yasaman wrote:
I would love the opportunity to voluntary assist a translator to learn more about this field.

Here's another link that takes you to the mentoring programme here on There are three mentors offering help with English to Farsi. The programme is only for paying members, but that could be a very good investment for you. You say you'd be happy to volunteer, but you should expect to be paid something for your work if the mentor is earning from it. It will be paid below the market rate, of course, to take account of the time the mentor will spend in checking your work and giving feedback.

Or would you suggest any other kind of voluntary job that might be more helpful?

I would plead with you not to accept commercial translations for free. This is a very damaging practice for the industry, as is working for ridiculously low rates. It's much better to read extensively about how to translate (although taking a course is always recommended) and then accept work at a slightly-below-average rate on the understanding that you lack experience. Your client will benefit from a slightly cheaper translation, but it should be a good translation, thoroughly researched and double-checked for typos etc. Your per-hour rate will probably be very low as you will take so much more time on it than an experienced translator would need.

Most of the established NGOs ask for experience, not without good reason as their translations really need to be perfect and they certainly don't have time to give feedback, but there are others who need voluntary translators of non-commercial texts: all things Wiki, the TED programme... Then there are all the non-commercial blogs and sites that interest you in English and that might well interest other Farsi speakers. I imagine most owners will give permission for both the translation and for your name to be displayed, even if they can't actually vouch for the correctness of the translation.

If your aim is to translate fiction, I would certainly recommend that you study creative writing in Farsi, even if you don't study literary translation. Remember, you won't be translating individual words, as you might if you were just helping a friend to understand a letter in English; you'll be translating the message contained in the English text into the equivalent message in Farsi, and the nail-biting, tear-jerking, spine-chilling or rib-tickling effect will have to be reproduced.


Hannah D  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:26
French to English
+ ...
What I did... Jun 12, 2013

Hello Yassi.

I can only tell you how I went about it.

1. The first thing I did was a Masters in translation. I don't believe this is necessary. I got a scholarship so didn't have financial pressure but that may be an issue for you (?), in which case I wouldn't worry. I don't believe that my qualification has directly influenced my translation career (since agencies seem to insist on tests anyway, which sort of makes the whole process feel a bit redundant). What it did do for me was give me confidence and an idea of what to expect as well as improve my professional skills.

2. I did internships. Again, money wasn't an issue as many of them you can do by distance and fit around whatever other work you're doing. When my internships came to an end, I submitted a quote for carrying on the work at a fair (but not 'bottom-feeder') rate. They were happy with my work and they are now clients.

3. I worked as a volunteer. You'll find endless volunteering opportunities out there. If you're starting out, do it.

4. I applied to loads of agencies. Most didn't reply. Some did. My application contained information on the voluntary work and internships. Try and get some of that under your belt before you apply.

5. I got in touch with direct clients. I thought about where I am location-wise and then considered my work experience outside of translation. I sent targeted applications 'on spec'. For every 40 'are you interested?' messages, I got one positive response. Enough for the moment.

6. My latest move was to become a full member on Proz. I dug my heels in because in my head becoming a full member meant paying an amount that is currently fairly significant to me, and I had an image of fighting for rock bottom projects. But within 24 hours of purchasing membership, I have paid off the membership fee. And the work was both interesting and at a fair rate.

That's just the way I went about it.


Yuri Radcev  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:26
Member (2012)
English to Russian
+ ...
learning to swim Jun 12, 2013

just start translating. don't waste time. otherwise you may sink in a spoon full of good advices.


Jakob Boller  Identity Verified
English to Danish
+ ...
Interpreting? Jun 13, 2013

A lot of the Farsi jobs that I come across tend to be interpreting. If you are interested in that kind of work, you might want to work towards getting the appropriate interpreting certification for your area.

If not, you'll find plenty of translation work for that language as well.

Like most responders, I would recommend seeking education in the fields of translation or interpreting, but you don't have to wait until you get a degree to start translating. Start right away.

I'd give you advice on finding clients, but I'm not very good at that, myself.


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