Potential career change from teaching to DE -> EN translating
Thread poster: Claire Plasser

Claire Plasser
United Kingdom
German to English
Nov 8

I am considering a career change from primary teaching to translating, but am a bit unsure of the feasibility of my plans. I have a BA and MA in History and Politics, a PGCE in Primary Education with German as a subject specialism. Some elements of my MA were done in German because it was completed at a German university. I am married to a German speaker and lived there for over 10 years. We speak German at home. However, the only official qualification I have is a C1 language exam taken about 5... See more
I am considering a career change from primary teaching to translating, but am a bit unsure of the feasibility of my plans. I have a BA and MA in History and Politics, a PGCE in Primary Education with German as a subject specialism. Some elements of my MA were done in German because it was completed at a German university. I am married to a German speaker and lived there for over 10 years. We speak German at home. However, the only official qualification I have is a C1 language exam taken about 5 years ago.

I have always enjoyed reading and writing in English (my native language) and I enjoy reading German newspapers etc. I have done the odd bit of informal proofreading and translating for friends in the past and really enjoyed it.

I’m looking for advice on the following issues:

- Is DE - EN a sought after language pair? Or would I be competing with thousands of better qualified translators? I can offer my degree subjects and education related texts as a specialism, including special needs paperwork and psychologist reports.

- I am aiming to complete a preparation course for the Dip Trans, with a view to taking the exam in a few years. Does that seem reasonable?

- Until then, would you recommend I put work into my profile on here and see how far I get?

Thanks for any advice!
Collapse


 

Tan Nguyen
Vietnam
Local time: 15:12
Member (Oct 2019)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
current quality level Nov 9

You may need to check the translation quality in your language pair to know your strengths and see how much value you could add.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:12
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Get stuck in :) Nov 9

Claire Plasser wrote:
the only official qualification I have is a C1 language exam taken about 5 years ago.

With all the other things you have, it's easily enough.

- Is DE - EN a sought after language pair? Or would I be competing with thousands of better qualified translators?

You'd be competing against several thousand as it's one of the major pairs, but many would be far less well qualified. You'll need to market yourself as a specialist (but you can accept anything else you feel you can do).

- I am aiming to complete a preparation course for the Dip Trans, with a view to taking the exam in a few years. Does that seem reasonable?

Eminently.

- Until then, would you recommend I put work into my profile on here and see how far I get?

Definitely. Get active in Kudoz to see whether you enjoy the research side - and to raise your visibility here. Check out this forum, the Site Guidance Centre, the Scam Centre and the Wiki articles, especially the ones on marketing and risk management. Buy Plus membership asap and start contacting outsourcers and applying for jobs.


Ivana Kahle
Ava Wells-Quantrell
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:12
French to English
Comments Nov 9

Claire Plasser wrote:
I’m looking for advice on the following issues:

- Is DE - EN a sought after language pair? Or would I be competing with thousands of better-qualified translators? I can offer my degree subjects and education-related texts as a specialism, including special needs paperwork and psychologist reports.

- I am aiming to complete a preparation course for the Dip Trans, with a view to taking the exam in a few years. Does that seem reasonable?

- Until then, would you recommend I put work into my profile on here and see how far I get?

Thanks for any advice!


Teaching is quite different from translation, as you already no doubt know. Both can be rewarding. Any EU language combo, particularly with English, will be highly competitive. Yes, you would be likely to find yourself competing with some better-qualified translators. You will also find yourself competing with some fairly bad translators. There are good and bad ones, cheap and expensive ones, and some good cheap ones and bad expensive ones.

I'm not certain what you mean by "better-qualified". Whether you mean paper qualifications, experience or specialisation, then yes, you will always be up against more qualified people. However, that does not mean that you will not be able to find a good place on the market for your set of skills. Educational texts will obviously be one of your major selling points to start with. You may or may not want to promote that as a specialist area, but a degree and professional experience with the necessary language skills will probably make you an interesting professional. The fact that you lived in Germany for 10 years is likely to be the most convincing language asset in your current profile. Formalising that with a professional language qualification may make a difference, it may not. You also have politics and history. You already have a fair number of assets to market to agencies, for example.

IT skills will also make a difference. Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools are increasingly common and very often required by agencies. So is professional indemnity insurance. You can work without them though, particularly if your clients are direct clients (no agency).

If you are considering dropping teaching and can survive financially while building up your business, then so much the better. Translators are at the end of the feeding chain. Payment can be almost immediate, but it can also be extremely slow. You need to be pretty wise to some of the problems (eg. scammers) who target translators among other groups. Rookies are particularly vulnerable. A sure sign is an out-of-the-blue big contract with apparently juicy terms. Beware! Goole "over-payment" scams and you'll find out what that means.

Rates. If you do start, then don't pitch your rates too low. If a client can get good work for half the price, why would he pay more? You can't start cheap and expect clients to follow if you then "up" your rates; they simply go elsewhere. As Sheila wisely points out, take your time to find your niche and aim at providing a good service for a good price. That way you'll increase your chances of getting good clients. You can dig a great hole for yourself that way. Pitch your prices at the going rate, at least.

Late payment and bad debts. Make sure you are clear in your terms and conditions. Set yourself a limit above which you will require an X% downpayment, for example. It is truly disheartening to have to chase people for money. It can also be time-consuming and expensive. I require payment upon receipt of invoice. That means I generally get paid within 8-10 days. Payment within 30 days of an invoice is fairly standard. others apply a standard of 2 months. I cannot afford to play banker to my clients so I'm more careful thee days. Even if I could afford it, I would not accept it. I have a couple of clients who are currently late paying their bill. It always leaves me with a scary feeling that I might not recover the money I am owed. This has happened with all sorts of clients, big and small, private and public sectors. Public sectors tend to be slow. You know you'll get paid, but you are likely to have to wait a while. Private sector clients are much more variable. Some pay within days, others you will always have to chase. You get to smell 'em a mile off!


[Edited at 2019-11-09 11:16 GMT]


Kevin Fulton
 

Claire Plasser
United Kingdom
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Nov 9

Thank you for all the advice you’ve given me so far. I really appreciate the time you’ve all taken to give me some pointers. I feel a lot more confident to give it a go now. Thank you!

 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
DON'T leave your job--at least till your new job brings a similar income Nov 9

Hello Claire.

What exactly made you thinking about the career change--any substantiated projections or hard numbers? Any local full-time or freelance translators nearby, earning over £15,000 net?

1) Is DE - EN a sought after language pair? Or would I be competing with thousands of better qualified translators?
Indeed, just check it only here and k
... See more
Hello Claire.

What exactly made you thinking about the career change--any substantiated projections or hard numbers? Any local full-time or freelance translators nearby, earning over £15,000 net?

1) Is DE - EN a sought after language pair? Or would I be competing with thousands of better qualified translators?
Indeed, just check it only here and keep counting (the min ratio is 100- members : 1000+ non-members).

2) I am aiming to complete a preparation course for the Dip Trans, with a view to taking the exam in a few years. Does that seem reasonable?
Certainly, self-improvement and development is a must: Non progredi est regredi.
However, diversification into other niches, regions, and activities could do the good trick sometimes too.

3) Until then, would you recommend I put work into my profile on here and see how far I get?
Are you ready to start from scratch as a mere newbie--an entry position? Do you know how run your* own one-man company, favourably communicating with prospects and partners while defending very your interests? Any biz and communication skills or an adviser? Can you politely ask something, ready to just firmly say 'No!' and walk away?

Can you--or have somebody you can rely--to do all the tasks in your* own company: from a cleaner and a secretary to a lawyer, an accountant, a PM, a translator (editor/proofreader, rewriter/copywriter...), a negotiator, a PR, a Support assistant, and so on?

* IF you are (1) a good [non-translation] specialist with (2) business awareness and (3) foreign language skills then such jobbing is definitely worth trying.

Shortly, if you are ready to cope with the job and to fight (back) for what is yours, then do dare.

[Edited at 2019-11-09 21:04 GMT]
Collapse


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:12
German to English
Don't expect a regular income at first Nov 9

It could take a while before the jobs come in on a regular basis. I don't know what you make as a teacher, but it you shouldn't have any expectation of achieving that income level in the near future, given the current market.

I would add only one suggestion to the excellent advice already offered. Read the "Scams" section to get an idea of the variety of frauds attempted. Perform due diligence and verify any offers made. Scamsters know how desperate novices are and make tempting off
... See more
It could take a while before the jobs come in on a regular basis. I don't know what you make as a teacher, but it you shouldn't have any expectation of achieving that income level in the near future, given the current market.

I would add only one suggestion to the excellent advice already offered. Read the "Scams" section to get an idea of the variety of frauds attempted. Perform due diligence and verify any offers made. Scamsters know how desperate novices are and make tempting offers. If you can't think of a good reason why someone is offering you a job, especially a non-logged-in visitor to Proz (or any other portal), be doubly cautious.
Best of luck!
Collapse


 

Claire Plasser
United Kingdom
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Not giving up the day job, yet... Nov 10

I actually only work part time at the moment and my youngest child will start school next year. I love teaching, but there are very real reasons the government has a massive retention problem. I am planning on keeping up my two days until it becomes viable not to. This way I will stay on top of the ever-changing buzz words and vocab in education, too.

I agree that translating seems to require a completely different skill set, but that is what appeals to me at the moment. I am looki
... See more
I actually only work part time at the moment and my youngest child will start school next year. I love teaching, but there are very real reasons the government has a massive retention problem. I am planning on keeping up my two days until it becomes viable not to. This way I will stay on top of the ever-changing buzz words and vocab in education, too.

I agree that translating seems to require a completely different skill set, but that is what appeals to me at the moment. I am looking forward to using my language skills for something more than watching TV or general home life. I am at least used to working on paperwork until the small hours when unexpected, tight deadlines pop up!

Thanks again everyone. I have a lot to learn but now I know roughly what to expect. Much appreciated!
Collapse


 

Ivana Kahle  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 09:12
Member (2007)
German to Croatian
+ ...
Why not? Nov 11

I did it, many years ago. For a couple of years I managed to do both jobs (teaching and translating), a couple of years ago I quitted teaching because it was hard to focus on both jobs. At the moment I enjoy translating as much as I used to enjoy teaching. From time to time I still give private lessons to talented and motivated students. It's feasible.

Sheila Wilson
 


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


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

Potential career change from teaching to DE -> EN translating

Advanced search







Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

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