Translating and Interpreting for Christian Churches. Is there lots of work?
Thread poster: Leandro Odero

Leandro Odero  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:35
English to Spanish
Oct 17, 2014

Hello everyone,

I am a Christian believer and, since I heard that specializing on a certain type of Translation or Interpreting field is very convenient and productive, I thought: Why don't I specialize in what I love?

The "big question" is, of course: Is there a lot of work in Translation and Interpreting for Christian Churches?

I would love to have an answer to my big question, which is really important for me to decide on entering this Translation and Interpreting Field.

I really appreciate your help.

Thank you.


Robin Levey
Local time: 06:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't know, but ... Oct 18, 2014

I'll leave aside your Christian beliefs - with all due respect, they are largely irrelevant to what follows.

I would recommend NOT specializing in any field which you 'love', or which you feel passionately about, be it fishing, archeology, religion, law, ... whatever. Why? - because if translating/interpreting in your 'passion' field doesn't bring in enough money to feed you, you may end up loosing love/faith in the passion itself (fishing, ...) on account of a failure to be a successful translator/interpreter/businessman. It's bad enough to go hungry for want of income - and it's far worse to loose one's lifelong passion.

In other words, I suggest you keep your business interests separate from your personal (and spiritual) interests.

Having looked at your profile, by all go for finance, for example, as your 'breadwinner' specialization. And by all means translate for the Christian churches in your free time. But keep your private and professional objectives separate, set strictly objective business-oriented priorities - and stick to them.

Apart from that, sorry, I can't answer your question: "Is there a lot of work in Translation and Interpreting for Christian Churches?" It's neither my passion nor a field of professional interest.


Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
Plenty of work, but getting paid for it... Oct 18, 2014

With all respect, I disagree with Robin. I am very passionate about the fields that I work in, which is what drives me to do the best work that I can. It keeps me interested when I'm a month into a project, and what inspires me to find that perfect word.

To each his (or her) own.

In regards to work with Christian churches, there is plenty of work out there. The problem is that a lot of clients want the work done for free or at a large discount. I started my career while serving as a missionary in Argentina. It can be very rewarding work, but not in a fiscal sense. At least, that has been my experience.


564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:35
Danish to English
+ ...
Charity work, yes, paid work, not so sure Oct 18, 2014

As a fellow Christian believer, I must admit that I would be happy to translate for free if someone approached me for a project that I felt was important and interesting, and I imagine many other Christian translators would feel the same.

Having said that, of course there are Christian publishers out there, and lots of Christian literature is being published in many languages, and I am sure it cannot all be done by volunteers. Maybe you need to home in on what kind of translation work you would like to do and start contacting the kind of people you would be interested in working with to find out what they expect from their translators.

I wouldn't stake an entire translation career on translating Christian material only, though.

On the other hand, it depends on what you consider 'Christian' work. For instance, a Christian friend of mine runs an international Christian charity that focuses on mother tongue teaching in minority languages (I know that Spanish is hardly a minority languageicon_smile.gif), and they produce material for teaching in primary schools, and some of that will be funded by donations and grants. This means that there IS paid work out there, you just have to search for it...


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:35
Member (2007)
+ ...
You could specialise in religion Oct 18, 2014

There's someone on here who does just that: Ana Julia or Julia Ana or something like that.

The problem I see with your approach to it is that you sound as though you would expect to identify with the content of the text (spreading the word?). I imagine a lot of texts wouldn't be 100% in tune with your own personal beliefs. I mean, it seems to me that Christian doesn't mean the same to all the different churches out there. Would you find yourself morally bound to reject loads of jobs just because of the stance that particular writer takes? There are some pretty weird beliefs under the Christian hat nowadays.

Forgive me if I've misunderstood or misrepresented anything. As an atheist the whole subject is a minefieldicon_smile.gif. I'm just trying to take an objective view of the job.


Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:35
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Passionate about Oct 18, 2014

Hello Leandro, I think it is good that you specialise in something you love, I do not agree with Media Metrix, as you have to love your specialisation area. If I hate technical subjects or topics, I am certainly not going to choose technical field as an area of specialisation, but, as Sheila said, you have to draw a line between your beliefs and the texts you are translating; you cannot give your interpretation of the text in any way, or let your views influence your translation. If you feel the text is offensive to you because of your beliefs, you had better refuse it than give a different interpretation, which would, somehow, come out. Otherwise, as Sheila pointed out, you can specialise in Religion. Translating for Christian churches is mostly free though.


Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:35
German to English
+ ...
Hi from another Christian Oct 18, 2014

When I started as a freelance translator, several of my early jobs were for Christian publishers. The content was usually right up my street, but looking back, these jobs were the lowest paid jobs I have ever done. They were fine to get me started, but over the years I developed other special areas, and I hardly ever work for Christian organisations now.
I would agree with what others have said - there is probably plenty of work, but most people will expect you to work for free, and even paid jobs will probably be at a very low rate. So it is important for you to establish other special areas to make sure that you can pay the bills. Then you can mix your work load, by doing some work in finance, real estate etc. to pay the bills, and a bit of Christian work for lower rates (or sometimes for free) out of conviction.
Sheila has a point too. There are different approaches to the Christian life, and you will often find that you agree with 80-90% of the content of the organisations that you work for. As a translator, you are not at liberty to change the other 10-20% to suit your own convictions.

On the whole, working for Christian organisations is fine as a part of your work, as long as you can live with the range of opinions expressed by such organisations. However, you will not get rich working for them, and many may expect you to work for free, so you will definitely need to focus on other subjects.


Leandro Odero  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:35
English to Spanish
Thank you all for such useful information! Oct 18, 2014

Thank you so much guys. This information is very useful to me, as I am just starting, and want to learn more and more everyday.

Once again, thanks!



Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:35
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Slightly off-topic Oct 18, 2014

Slightly off-topic, but I read the autobiography of a man who managed to raise a family solely on his church interpreting work. I say it's off-topic because everything he wrote about happened 40-60 years ago and times have changed very much since then. Still you might want to read it and see for yourself.


Leandro Odero  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:35
English to Spanish
Thank you! Oct 19, 2014

Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei wrote:

Slightly off-topic, but I read the autobiography of a man who managed to raise a family solely on his church interpreting work. I say it's off-topic because everything he wrote about happened 40-60 years ago and times have changed very much since then. Still you might want to read it and see for yourself.

Thank you for those two links, Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei.


Spanish to English
+ ...
Free and for Grace Jan 8, 2015

Hi Leandro:

I found this site when i was actually looking for some help to translate a video -documentary- about christian/amish life that wasn´t aviable in spanish and it have been a great blessing for our family, so we wanted to share it, and in order to do so we have to translate it to uploaded to you tube- for free, just because its worth it, we are 100% sure that its biblical and we are passionate about it

As some other replys told you I guess you wont find money here, as the bible says -you shall give for grace just as you receive it-. But I want to encourage you to do it because you will find great award by doing it right.

I would also like to say to anyone who wants to help us to translate those videos from English to Spanish that we will really appreciate help.

Go for it Leandro -Spread the word- is the reason of all of us Christians.

God Bless,



Natasha Ziada  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:35
English to Dutch
+ ...
Can we keep it professional please Jan 9, 2015

elibeth wrote:

Go for it Leandro -Spread the word- is the reason of all of us Christians.

I feel this is going a bit far on a non-confessional forum. I would appreciate if this discussion stays professional and neutral so all of us from different backgrounds and beliefs feel comfortable participating. Thank you.

[Edited at 2015-01-09 01:09 GMT]


Marjory Hord
Local time: 04:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with several comments Jan 9, 2015

Hi, I have done both translating and interpreting for different Christian groups, often free but sometimes for a fee or "ofrenda/offering".
Once I was offered a fulltime job for a Mexican Christian pub. company, but I didn't like the long hours and was happy with earning about the same amount (with no benefits) with part time teaching; i.e. pay wasn't too good.
A missionary friend's sister wants a book translated someday and I gave her a lower than normal offer, but it was still a lot for her. However, after my having done work for the missionary (sometimes free, not always), she likes the quality of my work and I know when the time comes her sister would probably choose me.
I would not say "there's lots of work", but there are possibilities and one can combine "pro bono" and paid work, but should not expect to make a living doing this type of translation 100%, in my humble opinion.


Edwin den Boer  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:35
Member (2009)
English to Dutch
Free is better than cheap Jan 10, 2015

Hi Leandro,

I think you received decent advice about translating for churches, but here's an answer to your retorical question. I'd encourage any translator to specialize in what they love, as long as they love medicine, law, engineering, patents, finance or advertising. Translation rates, especially in a competitive language pair like English-Spanish, are not so high that one can afford to accept the lower rates that are offered for a popular subject.

I love literature and I love the challenge of writing succinct translations, but I'll never translate a novel or caption a TV show, because I couldn't pay the rent doing that. A report just came out, showing that the most succesful book translators in the Netherlands make about 2/3 of the minimum wage. If you want to survive that way, you have to be very frugal, depend on your spouse's income, or move to a country with a lower cost of living.

A related debate is: should you do charity work for free or for a low rate? I'd rather do it for free, because I'd have the freedom to translate it according to my own standards and my own schedule. Moreover, lowering the rate would diminish the apparent value of my work. If your church has strict norms about tithing, you may want to tell them what the monetary value of your free translation is.

In fact, I have translated and published religious texts for free. I'm a Discordian and there's no money to be made in a religion that started as a joke. Our holy book advises people: "If you're reading this Principia Discordia in the store, or the library, you might want to consider stealing it."icon_smile.gif


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