How to start as a Translator
Thread poster: Maria Araujo

Maria Araujo
United States
Local time: 08:01
Member (2017)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Nov 23, 2017

I have a B.A. degree. I've been a teacher (ESL, Portuguese languages, etc.) for two decades but I would like to start doing translation for living now and am learning how to use Trados Studio 2017.
I'm going around in circles trying to figure out quoting for jobs posted on Proz. It seems that it is standard for clients to request quoting from Translators prior to hiring them for the job, and I have no idea what to ask for. Is it by the word? Is it by the page? What's the minimum/maximum charge for a beginner in the U.S.? Any hints, please?
What are the odds of a beginner finding work through Proz? Does applying for paid membership boost the odds of newbies getting work?
My other issue, but least important, is figuring out what subject to post as my specialty. I am studying to become a medical interpreter and possibly could add that as one of my specialty in a few months, but for now I need to start working.
Please, any suggestion to get me starting is very much appreciated.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
The most important question Nov 24, 2017

Maria Araujo wrote:

I have a B.A. degree. I've been a teacher (ESL, Portuguese languages, etc.) for two decades but I would like to start doing translation for living now and am learning how to use Trados Studio 2017.
I'm going around in circles trying to figure out quoting for jobs posted on Proz. It seems that it is standard for clients to request quoting from Translators prior to hiring them for the job, and I have no idea what to ask for. Is it by the word? Is it by the page? What's the minimum/maximum charge for a beginner in the U.S.? Any hints, please?
What are the odds of a beginner finding work through Proz? Does applying for paid membership boost the odds of newbies getting work?
My other issue, but least important, is figuring out what subject to post as my specialty. I am studying to become a medical interpreter and possibly could add that as one of my specialty in a few months, but for now I need to start working.
Please, any suggestion to get me starting is very much appreciated.



Maria, you're forgetting the most important question of all: How good is your writing? We translators write translations for a living. Writing competence is the andamio or scaffolding on which languages are mounted.

I would start offering proofreading or editing services to local translation agencies if I were you. You're not even close to having a specialization right now. Medical interpreting is not a translation specialization. What if you're actually wanting to become an interpreter instead?

Cheers from Ohio.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Heike Holthaus  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:01
Member (2012)
German to English
+ ...
On rates and specialty fields Nov 24, 2017

Hi Maria,

When I started my freelance career about 5 years ago, I faced the same dilemma.

Rates:
Agencies in the US usually pay per source word, whereas agencies in Europe often ask for a quote for a) 1000/words, b) per standard line (with or without spaces) and c) sometime per pages. Unless stated otherwise I quote per source word.
How much for a beginner? You can google “Rate for translation English to Portuguese” and get all kinds of hits, for example:

https://search.proz.com/employers/rates
https://www.gts-translation.com/translation-prices-per-word/

When I started out, I determined the minimum rate I my fields this way and used that for quoting. But I was also willing to accept jobs up to 0.02 cent below that rate.

Specialty:

What field is your B.A. in?
Other than training to be a medical interpreter, do have a background in the medical field?
What are your areas of interest? Hobbies?
What do you read about regularly?
How easy would it be for you to come up with a great slogan? (Marketing)

The answers to these questions can help you find fields you would enjoy working in.
I would not enter anything under Specialty fields that you cannot back up with some kind of experience. Whether it be that you have worked in that field (Education) or have some form of training in that field.
Any field you would like to work in and are well versed in goes under Working and then you can still add fields under Interests. These are the ones that you have some knowledge about. Less is more applies to all three categories.

Proz Membership:

You will quite often find that non-members have to wait to be able to quote on a job. By then the job may no longer be available. I find that for me, my Proz membership pays for itself. Not only in terms of jobs but also through the help I am getting and am able to give on Kudoz and the many other features Proz offers.

Best regards,

Heike


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:01
French to English
Translating, interpreting, specialisation and basis for charge. Nov 24, 2017

Maria Araujo wrote:

I have a B.A. degree. I've been a teacher (ESL, Portuguese languages, etc.) for two decades but I would like to start doing translation for living now and am learning how to use Trados Studio 2017.
I'm going around in circles trying to figure out quoting for jobs posted on Proz. It seems that it is standard for clients to request quoting from Translators prior to hiring them for the job, and I have no idea what to ask for. Is it by the word? Is it by the page? What's the minimum/maximum charge for a beginner in the U.S.? Any hints, please?
What are the odds of a beginner finding work through Proz? Does applying for paid membership boost the odds of newbies getting work?
My other issue, but least important, is figuring out what subject to post as my specialty. I am studying to become a medical interpreter and possibly could add that as one of my specialty in a few months, but for now I need to start working.
Please, any suggestion to get me starting is very much appreciated.



You have no doubt made a good choice in learning how to use Trados. A large majority of agencies use it and some will simply not work with freelancers who do not use translation tools.

Quoting for jobs on ProZ; agencies, private clients
Proz is not the only place where you can look for work. Note that Proz is not an agency, and that the job section is a sort of noticeboard where would-be clients can post jobs to attract bids. Many jobs are obtained through a battle on price, although not always. In any event, you need to multiply sources of potential work.

To get started, register with agencies in your country of residence. It takes times to register. Some agencies require a phenomenal amount of paperwork to be done, and request all sorts of documents. Copies of diplomas and evidence of qualifications and experience seems reasonable. Note that many websites nowadays looks like agency websites but are in fact simple directories with lists of translators. It takes time to fill in some of the applications online or otherwise. Sometimes it is time well spent, sometimes it is a complete waste of time. It is best to spend time researching to see which agencies specialise in the type of work you would like to do.

Likewise, if you have a particular speciality, then contact relevant companies and businesses directly. Not only will you be able to apply a higher rate than you will be able to get through an agency, which has to take its cut, you may also enjoy it more as you become familiar with the way the company works as well as with its preferred terminology. In some cases, regular work means you are part of a team, albeit a detached member.

Basis of charge
One of the most common bases on which to charge is a rate per word. Usually, the rate is multiplied by the number of words in the source document, mainly because is it a known quantity at the start. In some countries and for some languages, there are other bases for working out how much to charge. Recently, I remember someone explaining on here that in one particular language a "page" as recognised in the business as being a specific number of words. Unless that is the case, then charging by word is a safe way to go: after all, with the exceptions mentioned, a page can contain one or two lines, or a few thousands of words in columns of tiny writing. In the US, I believe charging per word is the usual method.
As for the actual rate, then info from US posters will be most helpful.

Another thing to bear in mind is the number of words you can (realistically) translate a day. Try setting yourself challenges, allowing time for terminology research and for proofreading. You need to know this sort of information in order to know if you can accept a particular job as you will need to meet a deadline. Be pessimistic to start with. Missing a dadline is never a good idea.

CAT Tools. As you are learning to use Trados, bear in mind that most agencies will apply reductions, discounting for certain percentages of repeats. I suggest that you look through the forum for threads on charging when using CAT tools. You need to remember that although the tool will suggest solutions for certain segments, you still have to be sure that suggestion fits the context. So unless its a basic copy/paste repetition of a big chunk, you still need to work on the text.

Speciality, translation, interpreting
A speciality is something you know about. That knowledge and expertise can come from professional experience and/or skills acquired through a particular hobby, interest or any other source, really. You will need to be able to indicate a level of skill in your chosen speciality. Qualifications, diplomas and certificates will help, but showing you are able to do the job well is what counts.

Translation and interpreting are two different skills. Some linguists offer both, some one or the other. Being able to do one to a professional standard does not mean you are able to do the other sufficiently well. From a cognitive point of view, the skills are quite different. In the case of interpreting, you will find yourself in a hot mess if you don't know enough about the project, the business etc. to have the terminology on the tip of your tongue. You need to be able to think on your feet and adjust to a whole set of criteria and situations. Medical interpreting must require very specific knowledge. I do conference interpreting and also interpret at meetings. You need to know about your client's business, the terms they use and those of their competitors. One of my degrees is in law, but there are a fair number of legal domains I would not touch with a barge pole, for lack of knowledge. Given the length of medical training, that probably applies even more extensively.

I do some scientific translation as I have a master's degree in biology and neuroscience. However, in professional terms, my experience of the field barely extends beyond a couple of internships. So I have to be very careful about what I accept there. The message is, if you are receiving training in medical interpreting, be very careful about the type of work you accept. If you find yourself without the necessary understanding, knowlegde and terminology, you will be in difficulty.

There you have it. A few ideas, a couple of anecdotes from my own experience. I hope this helps. Good luck!

[Edited at 2017-11-24 14:53 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:01
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Determining your rates - see Wiki article Nov 25, 2017

http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Determining_your_rates_and_fees_as_a_translator

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Don't expect tomorrow to be payday Nov 25, 2017

You've already received some very good replies so I won't duplicate what's been said. To add to what Mario said, I also see impeccable writing skills as being essential for the job, along with strong research skills, and without some entrepreneurial skills any self-employed person is going to find life heavy going. Mind you, unlike Mario, I wouldn't advise you to start off by offering to "improve" the translations of experienced translators. Find out how to do their job first .

As Nikki demonstrates, some people can both interpret and translate. However, the vast majority of us don't excel in both. The personality required is very different, as are the techniques. I personally struggled somewhat with the face-to-face side of interpreting but I could cope with that, as I did as a teacher. The main problem arose because at heart I'm a perfectionist and I'm only confident when I have time to produce my best work. Coming up with a "good enough" solution in a split second did nothing for my self-confidence or my stress levels. It was way, way outside my comfort zone. I believe many translators feel the same way. And I've heard many interpreters say they'd die of boredom stuck at a desk, typing all day. Horses for courses, as they say.

What particularly concerns me in your post, Maria, is this:

for now I need to start working

It seems you may have the impression that once you get the answers to your questions, you'll quote for a couple of jobs, get hired, and start raking in the money. I know that in the US there are no formalities to starting work as a self-employed person, so maybe you see it differently from those us who have to register and start paying massive social contributions even before landing our first job. Freelancers' businesses generally start out very slowly - unless they're extraordinarily lucky. It isn't at all unknown to earn $0-100 in the first month of activity. You need time to build up a reputation that will enable you to collaborate with enough good clients to have a steady stream of work. The more needy you are, the more likely it is that you'll agree to work for unscrupulous agencies who will impose a stupidly low rate for your time, probably refuse to pay 100% as they'll then impose "fines", and then pay you a paltry sum 90 days later, after several reminders of course . In your case, I hope you're still using teaching as your principal income stream and plan to translate as a sideline to start with.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:01
German to English
Watch for scams Nov 25, 2017

Some beginning translators, eager for work, fail to perform due diligence and are scammed as a result. A good place to learn about scams is here: https://www.proz.com/forum/scams-946.html

Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 18:01
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
you'd better not Nov 27, 2017

No sarcasm. I remember the translation industry 10-15 years ago. And if the same tendencies continue, the HARD question is how to get OUT of this sinking ship, not how to get into it.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sinking ship? Nov 29, 2017

MariusV wrote:

No sarcasm. I remember the translation industry 10-15 years ago. And if the same tendencies continue, the HARD question is how to get OUT of this sinking ship, not how to get into it.


I don't know your particular market or situation, but translation as a profession is as dynamic as ever. Yes, I face thousands of competitors across the globe in my language pair (English to US/Standard Spanish) but I still have repeat clients. I can still eat, dress myself, put gas in my 2010 SUV car and live in my own apartment (not rental, my own).

Yet the truth sometimes hits us: for some of us out there, this profession is no longer for us and we are forced to make a career change.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

How to start as a Translator

Advanced search







memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2017 helps translators increase translation productivity whilst ensuring quality. Combining translation memory, terminology management and machine translation in one simple and easy-to-use environment.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search