Starting in France
Thread poster: markstone

markstone
France
Local time: 15:26
French to English
+ ...
Aug 4, 2013

Hi, I'm new to the site. I've done a few small translation projects in Spain and France, mainly found by word of mouth. I've been living in France for the past three years and am now looking to find more work.

Whilst my spoken French is not amazing (I'm still not happy with my accent!), I can churn out some pretty good translation work and the main client I've been working with was very pleased with the way it was written. I'm hoping that being a Native speaker will be an advantage in a market that is full of French translators who have very good, but not quite perfect English.

I'd really like to get some form of certificate to help me get work. Does anyone know if there's an exam I can sit that will give me a certificate that's recognised in France/Europe/internationally? Also, is it worth sending lots of CVs to translation companies/agencies?

Any help or advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers for now, Mark


 

Nelia Fahloun (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:26
English to French
+ ...
Visit the French forum Aug 5, 2013

Hi Mark,

I think it would be wise for you to consult the multiple threads which exist in the "French" forum: http://www.proz.com/forum/french-25.html.
If you still cannot find answers, feel free to post a message there; the community is quite active.
I would also strongly recommend you to read blogs by translators who live in France and try to attend some training courses. The French translators association is organizing two sessions - one in Paris and one in Metz - of a one-day course tailored for beginners called "Réussir son installation et se constituer une clientèle":
http://www.sft.fr/formation-traduction-reussir-installationaconstituer-clientele2.html#.Uf9rQef0Hh4
http://www.sft.fr/formation-traduction-reussir-installationaconstituer-clientele3.html#.Uf9rXOf0Hh4

I would also recommend you to put more information on your ProZ profile and maybe include a (professional-looking) photo.

Bon courage !

Nelia


 

nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:26
English to French
+ ...
two sides : working as a freelancer in France and working as a translator Aug 5, 2013

To work as a freelancer in France you need to register you business properly in order to pay your taxes and social insurance, register for VAT etc.
The training mentionned by Nehlia is specifically designed to adress this matter.
The French forum also give lot of information.

To work as a freelance translator: finding clients, dealing with agencies, CAT Tools, specialising, certificates/diplomas ... you will find information in many forums.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:26
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
MA? Aug 5, 2013

markstone wrote:
Does anyone know if there's an exam I can sit that will give me a certificate that's recognised in France/Europe/internationally?

The most common certification is an MA in Translation Studies. Once you have a couple of years experience, an alternative/additional exam is the IoL DipTrans. Either/both would be a good idea for you, IMO.

I'm assuming you're young and therefore inexperienced, and don't have industry experience (in IT or wine), either. In theory, you don't absolutely have to have any qualifications to be a translator, just skill. But you'd be at a real disadvantage in your language pairs - you need something to put you ahead of the thousands and thousands of other professional and not-so-professional translators. Otherwise, it's possible that the only way you'll get full-time regular work will be by charging too-low rates, and that's a nasty downward spiral of sweatshop working.

As others have said, you need to browse this forum and the French one, and come back with specific questions. If you want to market your services here, you really need to pay close attention to your visibility on the site. For that, visit the Site Guidance Centre and follow all the advice for growing your business. There are even free webinars to attend!


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:26
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
diplomas and experience Aug 5, 2013

Do you have any kind of diplomas? You'll need at least an MA to impress clients. I got mine at ESIT in Paris, there are other universities who do them.

The other route is by way of experience in a field where there are lots of translations. Have you worked in any other fields?


 

markstone
France
Local time: 15:26
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Aug 5, 2013

Thanks to everyone who has helped me on this, I really appreciate it. I’ve got an Engineering degree, a Masters in IT and a bit of experience in both fields. Actually, I’ve got experience in a lot of fields, have travelled a lot as well.


I’m now going to look into doing an MA in Translation Studies or the IoL DipTrans. The latter seems more attractive if you can just pay to sit the exam. I’m going to get the ‘auto entrepreneur’ status in France and try to set up my business from Lyon. I’ve made myself a website as well so will take things one step at a time and see where it takes me!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:26
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Scrub my previous answer! Aug 6, 2013

Now that you've replied here and given some information on your profile, I can see that you're not the newbie to professional life that I'd supposed you to be.icon_smile.gif If you're impatient to get going, I really doubt you'd see much value from the large amount of time spent on an MA (though others might disagree). I'd recommend you think of doing something "lighter" to give yourself a credential in translation. I did a certificate in translation (details on my profile as they're a private company and I don't like to advertise blatantly), which was only the basics but it seemed very good to me. I learnt things that a bilingual person doesn't automatically know: how to deal with untranslatables, acronyms, proper names... and about the style and register to adopt for different sectors/texts. The company also does a diploma that's specifically designed to prepare for the DipTrans. BTW, your remark about just turning up on the day for the DipTrans is way off the mark: I haven't done it but I know of many here who studied for a long time, and then failed, sometimes twice, before passing. It's VERY tricky, with texts expertly chosen/written(?) to include all the likely traps, and very little time to consider solutions. But then that's what the job's all about!icon_smile.gif

As for your other remark on your first posting, it's worth doing anything and everything to make yourself known to potential clients. And they can be anywhere - if you have kids then speak to all the parents outside the school at throwing-out time. Remember, a housewife has family, friends and neighbours, any of whom might be responsible for hiring translators for their company. Certainly, send your details to agencies, but do it carefully, with targeted letters, and only to agencies who work in your pairs and subject areas and have expressed a wish to receive applications (either here - go to the Blue Board and click on Applications - or on their websites).

A word of advice from someone who's been there, it may be worthwhile to hone your marketing skills on the bigger ones, who have mountains of work at reasonable-ish rates (ignore those sharks who want sweatshop workers), and then apply to the gems of smaller agencies who often make for a much better long-term relationship. Whoever you apply to, getting one acknowledgement in 10 is considered very good; a small job from one in 25 would be great, so don't hold your breath. But you might well get a call a month later from someone with the perfect job. In the early days, you'll do best if you can be available weekends, evenings and public holidays. It's a pain, but that's when agencies are most likely to draw a blank from their resident pool of suppliers. Of course, by the time they find that out, it's mega-urgent!


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 15:26
English to Polish
+ ...
Looks like a good start Aug 6, 2013

markstone wrote:

Thanks to everyone who has helped me on this, I really appreciate it. I’ve got an Engineering degree, a Masters in IT and a bit of experience in both fields. Actually, I’ve got experience in a lot of fields, have travelled a lot as well.


Having an engineering degree and a whole big Master's in IT should definitely enhance your credentials as a specialist in those fields. This said, the same clients and outsourcers should probably have software localisation work, so you might as well learn about that if you're so inclined. Localisation doesn't always have that much to do with IT as regards the content localised, but you'll always be 'within' a program or system and will benefit from your greater understanding of the setting.

I’m now going to look into doing an MA in Translation Studies or the IoL DipTrans. The latter seems more attractive if you can just pay to sit the exam. I’m going to get the ‘auto entrepreneur’ status in France and try to set up my business from Lyon. I’ve made myself a website as well so will take things one step at a time and see where it takes me!


You have one Master's degree already, so I'd perhaps focus on DipTrans for now, and later other certifications as well (including any French ones), and only take an M.A. in translation if you really have the time and money and no better CPD avenue, which should not be the case, by the way. You might be able to qualify for a translation-related Ph.D. course or post-Master's, which would be harder to complete (or even start) but less of a lateral move than just getting an M.A. Bottom line: I'd load up on certificates (whatever you can pass and afford the fees for) and try to move up with the degrees rather than staying on the same level. But others may legitimately disagree with me on this.

Edit: Also, since you're going to spend some time on Proz.com, try and get the 'Red P'. Some outsourcers appreciate this type of verification.


[Edited at 2013-08-06 11:28 GMT]


 


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