How to establish yourself within the translation industry
Thread poster: hannahchs

hannahchs

Spanish to English
Mar 11

Hello all!

I am an English native living in the United Kingdom who gained an undergraduate degree in Spanish translation studies in 2013. Since then i have been keeping my Spanish at a high level by reading Spanish newspapers/books and watching Spanish TV/films. However, what I haven't been able to do is gain a job within the translation industry or even any job that would enable me to use my language skills, particularly in the medical field which is where my particular interests lie.

I have recently signed up to Translators Without Borders to try and get some volunteer work.

Does anyone have any tips or advice as to what else I could do that might help me gain a paid job within the translation industry? I know that getting a Masters degree would probably help but for financial reasons this is impossible.

Thank you in advance for any help or advice that you can offer.

Hannah


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:54
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What sort of job? Mar 12

hannahchs wrote:
what I haven't been able to do is gain a job within the translation industry or even any job that would enable me to use my language skills

I'm wondering what sort of job you've been looking for in translation. I'm sure there are salaried jobs around that use language skills and maybe include an element of translation (e.g. customer services or administration). I'm thinking of a company located in the English-speaking world with links to the Spanish-speaking world, or vice versa. However, full-time translation jobs are incredibly rare, I believe. Almost all of the practising translators present on this site are self-employed or are getting a salary from their own translation company. It's how things are nowadays. All for the better, IMHO, as I would hate to go back to being an employee after being my own boss for so long.

particularly in the medical field which is where my particular interests lie.

Well, I think you need a good bit more than an interest to work in the medical field. Even if you specialised in it during your translation studies, I doubt that that alone would have been a very convincing qualification for clients back in 2013, and certainly not now as you've had no experience in the intervening period.

I have recently signed up to Translators Without Borders to try and get some volunteer work.

Have you been accepted? It's a very good sign if you have because TWB rejects around half of applicants in the French to English pair (I doubt it's that different in your pair) and most successful candidates have at least two years' experience.

Does anyone have any tips or advice as to what else I could do that might help me gain a paid job within the translation industry?

The obvious thing to do would be to set yourself up as a freelance translator, i.e. self-employed. I believe that's as easy as falling off a log in the UK, and considerably less painful icon_smile.gif, whereas in some countries it's time-consuming, confusing and expensive. Mind you, you'll find it useful to get advice and training from someone like the Chamber of Commerce as you'll need to do book-keeping, invoicing, payment chasing, negotiating ... as well as doing business with foreign countries.

As a freelance translator, you'd need to concentrate on marketing your services quite aggressively at first. It can take several months, or even longer, to even begin to build a solid client base. So you'll need a really effective shop-window - either here or on a similar site dedicated to translation is a good place to start. Then you'll need to dress that shop-window with lots of goodies, aka a complete and appealing profile that shows exactly what you can do for clients. You'll need to consider every positive element in your life that will contribute to their confidence in you. To be brutally honest, there are a hell of a lot of English native speakers who understand Spanish at a very high level. Think of your formal education, translation experience (paid and maybe unpaid too), other language experience (not necessarily at work), non-translation work experience, skills such as English writing, research etc that will be required as a translator, and even your interests and general life experience. There's a webinar here that will help you build your profile along with loads of other useful help in the Site Guidance Centre.


 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:54
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Check out what the ITI has to offer Mar 12

Hey Hannah,

The ITI runs a course every year called "Getting Started as a Freelance Translator" or something to that effect. It might be worth checking out. You could also join the ITI Spanish network and see if anyone in that circle knows of any opportunities. The German network occasionally has requests from companies looking to fill internships, in-house positions etc. Maybe the Spanish network is similar.

[Edited at 2018-03-12 16:41 GMT]


 

JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 15:54
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
What Sheila said Mar 13

I was going to reply along much the same lines as Sheila!

Also, don't feel that you need a master's degree in translation. You've already got a degree and that's more translation-based training than many professional translators have. That's not to say that you shouldn't undertake further qualifications at some point, but it would be better to do something relevant to your specialisation – medicine, say – and get the rest of your translator training on the job.

And if you're considering being a freelance translator, just do it! When I started out as a freelancer, I simply applied for jobs through ProZ and gradually built up my portfolio of clients that way. For the first year I couldn't have survived without my savings, but after that it turned into a full-time occupation, with clients coming from a range of sources. So if you're currently supporting yourself by some other profession, you should start applying for freelance assignments now, with a view to quitting your "real" job some way down the line.


 


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