Inclusive-format topic

3 posters

New posters welcome!
Looking for advice on working as a Spanish to (British) English Translator
Thread poster: Sian Anderson
Feb 5

Hello,

I'm based in the UK and am looking to start translation work from Spanish into English. I would like to get more of an idea of what working as a translator is like and wondered if anyone could share their experiences on the following:

- Whether it has been possible for you to make a living purely out of freelance translation work, or if you have to carry out other work alongside it to maintain a comfortable level of income,
- How long it took you to build
... See more
Hello,

I'm based in the UK and am looking to start translation work from Spanish into English. I would like to get more of an idea of what working as a translator is like and wondered if anyone could share their experiences on the following:

- Whether it has been possible for you to make a living purely out of freelance translation work, or if you have to carry out other work alongside it to maintain a comfortable level of income,
- How long it took you to build up your translation business/work as a freelance translator until you reached a comfortable level of income,
- How competitive this work can be,
- Whether freelance work enables you to maintain a good work-life balance and if it is compatible with family life,
- If you have any additional knowledge or experience of having worked as an in-house translator for a company, and if so, if you could advise on the types of places one can find work, salary and workload expectations, and how this compares to freelance work.

Any other useful information for someone starting out would be most welcome. Thank you.
Collapse


 
How long is a piece of string? Feb 5

Sian Anderson wrote:
Any other useful information for someone starting out would be most welcome. Thank you.

It is so difficult to comment because two people in the same language pair, and even in the same area of specialisation, can have very different experiences. You could struggle to make a few thousand a year. You could make six figures a year. It all depends.
1) It helps to have a head for business because linguistic ability is only part of the game.
2) It really helps to have clear and credible specialisations - medical, legal, financial, etc.
3) It helps not to be shy and retiring: you need to be able to fight your corner and negotiate.
4) You need to be able to write well in your target language (English for you).
5) You may have to work odd hours from time to time, because when the work comes it's seldom wise to turn it down, and you may have to scramble to keep up with demand. If you put stringent limits on working time, you will get less work (which might be an acceptable trade-off, of course).
6) My standard advice is to work in some other industry and come back to translation when you have some kind of expert knowledge or experience.

Regards,
Dan


Robert Forstag
 
a succinct reply! Feb 5

- Whether it has been possible for you to make a living purely out of freelance translation work

Yes, but I imagine if I were billing 0.05€/word I'd have trouble making ends meet.

- How long it took you to build up your translation business,

It took off immediately, thanks to contacts on LinkedIn, mostly former colleagues. Some agency clients searched for me once they realised I no longer worked there.

- How competitive this work can be,... See more
- Whether it has been possible for you to make a living purely out of freelance translation work

Yes, but I imagine if I were billing 0.05€/word I'd have trouble making ends meet.

- How long it took you to build up your translation business,

It took off immediately, thanks to contacts on LinkedIn, mostly former colleagues. Some agency clients searched for me once they realised I no longer worked there.

- How competitive this work can be,

Very, if you translate into English you'll be competing with the whole world.

- work-life balance and if it is compatible with family life,

When I freelanced as a young mother I did a lot of typing with baby in arms. I often ended up working at night since my babies didn't sleep as much during the day as the baby books promised.

The first jobs you are offered are often urgent. The client is only willing to try out a new translator because their usual translators have enough work to be able to refuse this one.

- experience of having worked as an in-house translator for a company, and if so, if you could advise on the types of places one can find work, salary and workload expectations, and how this compares to freelance work.

I worked for a long time in an agency. This was good experience, so I expanded my comfort zone, I learned how agencies work, and got lots of contacts which was very useful once I started freelancing. Salary: pitiful. Workload expectations: depends on how human your boss is.
I find it a lonely life compared to working in an office, I miss my commute along the river past Notre Dame, but I enjoy the freedom and extra money.
Collapse


 
The social aspect should be considered Feb 5

Kay Denney wrote:
I find it a lonely life compared to working in an office, I miss my commute along the river past Notre Dame, but I enjoy the freedom and extra money.

I second this. For a couple of decades I worked in an industry built on frequent, intense person-to-person contact. I enjoyed the social aspect of the work, and I do miss talking to the (mostly) smart and hard-working people who were my colleagues. I'm glad I had the opportunity to work in a large office. Amongst other things, it teaches you how to get along with people you may not necessarily like.

I look at the writings (or rantings...) of some freelancers on ProZ and in certain blogs, and often think I see signs of people who have no real idea of how to interact with people on a professional level. The way I see it, if somebody sits in a room on their own for 20 years without much day-to-day contact with others, there's a good chance that they're not going to be well-calibrated for business dealings.

If the OP is looking to fit work in around a family life, freelancing might well be a good choice and the lack of a social aspect may not be an issue. If she is a young graduate, the isolation and potential loneliness of freelance life could become a major problem.

Dan


 
Sian Anderson
TOPIC STARTER
How can I develop a specialism? Feb 8

Thank you both for your comments, this is helpful. I currently work in an office environment and acknowledge that it would be a change for me to move to full-time translation work. I'm in my early 30s, and whilst I don't have a family yet, I may do in the not too distant future so it is good to hear your thoughts on that also.

Dan Lucas wrote:

6) My standard advice is to work in some other industry and come back to translation when you have some kind of expert knowledge or experience.

Regards,
Dan


I'd be interested to hear from translators that have specialised, to know whether this is the preferred way to become specialised/gain subject knowledge or if they come to their specialism via another route? I've spent most my working life thus in higher education professional services, which has provided me with a lot of cultural knowledge, but isn't something I can refer to for specialised subject knowledge that would help a burgeoning translation career.

Many thanks.


 


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


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

Looking for advice on working as a Spanish to (British) English Translator

Advanced search







TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running, helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features.

More info »



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