Is it possible to work as a part-time translator through proz.com?
Thread poster: xxxbanchongsan
xxxbanchongsan
Local time: 19:58
Japanese to Thai
+ ...
Mar 8, 2006

Hi. I have just registed at proz a few minutes ago. My question is about the possibility of working as a part-time translator through proz.com, as it seems that this website is particularly for professional translator.

First of all, let me explain the reasons I registered (free membership) at proz and my background. I am a Thai and looking for a part-tme job to finance my study in Germany. I had studied my bachelor's in Management in Japan for 4 years. When I was a fourth year student there I had worked as a Japanese-Thai factory interpreter/translator for the engineering deparment of Bridgestone/Firestone Corps (tire manufacturer) for one year. I also took an interpretation course at my university. Then I came back to Thailand and worked for Toyota for a year, so my specialty is in automobile industry. As I am now studying in Germany and has no part-time job yet, I decided to reseach if I can work online as a part-time translator.

My questions are the followings:

1. Is it possible to work as a part-time translator through proz.com? My biggest problem is that as a graduate student there are times that i am very busy (such as my exam season) and also times that I am free (such as now, my holiday)

2. Is it easy to get a job for an amateur translator? How often and how much?It seems to me that this website is extremely competitive since it is full of professional translators.

3. How competitive is my field? My specialty is in automobile industry. I am also better at Japanese-English and Japanese-Thai translation than the other way round.

4. How should I get started?

5. What should I write on my CV? Any suggestion?

5. Any suggestion not concerning the above questions?

Sorry for writing such a long post. Thank you for your opinion in advance.


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Els Hoefman  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:58
Member (2004)
English to Dutch
+ ...
It is possible Mar 8, 2006

Hello Bansongsan,

As for your first question, I can confirm that it is possible to work as a part-time translator through Proz. I started as a part-timer at the end of 2003 and worked in the evenings and weekends only. I had a day job in an office, working as a translator/secretary. In the beginning I did not have much work, but after a few months I had a small client base. It was sometimes hard to be difficult to reach during the day, to have to work long hours at night etc. But is was indeed feasible and it was worth it.
By March 2005 I had enough work to start working half-time in the office, half-time as a freelance translator. Some of my clients know that I am not available for work every day, others don't. But full-time translators cannot accept every offered job either, so it does not really matter why you are not available. The only thing is you should be able to read your e-mails on a regular basis, as your clients will expect you to reply within a few hours after receiving their message.
Anyway, I am going to quit my other job now. I have been able to build my business gradually and am now confident that I can earn enough money each month to make a living.

Don' t rely on the job postings, though. Use the Blue Board, find clients on the Internet and start sending your resume (but first make sure your resume is as complete and as interesting as possible).

You will find information on writing a resume and starting a career in other forums, using the search tool.

Good luck!


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:58
Italian to English
Yes Mar 8, 2006

Hi Banchongsan

Welcome to ProZ.com. You will get a much better idea of the range of possible answers to your questions by first exploring the Getting Established and other forums. Most of your questions have been asked many times before.
Being part-time does not make a translator un or non professional - unless you accept jobs you cannot deliver by the customer's deadline!
Having a specialism such as yours is a major advantage.
The site is not a place one "works through". It is one area in which to "meet" potential clients amongst many other functions. I suggest you read the Articles by Henry (the site founder" and Jason Grimes (site staff) on how to maximise your presence on the site. Their view (and mine) is that the jobs offered section is not the most productive as a means of acquiring work, though I wouldn't want to deter you from bidding initially, specially in the automotive sector.
Look at the some of the many CVs accessible on the site and read some of the answers to previous requests for advice on the subject in the forums.
Unless you are one of those rarities, a genuinely bilingual person, don't even consider translating into anything other than your mother tongue!
Getting established is rarely a quick operation; you need patience.
Good luck.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:58
German to English
+ ...
Is it possible to work as a part-time translator through proz.com? Mar 8, 2006

1. Is it possible to work as a part-time translator through proz.com? My biggest problem is that as a graduate student there are times that i am very busy (such as my exam season) and also times that I am free (such as now, my holiday)


Whether you wish to work part-time or full-time (although "seasonally" would probably describe your situation better) is fairly irrelevant. The real issues are skill, experience, and business acumen.

Many people evidently source a significant part of their income through ProZ.com, so the simple answer to your first question is "yes". However, as you've already noticed, professional translators are not in short supply, and the competition for lucrative work is intense. Unless you work hard on your translation skills and on marketing yourself effectively, your chances against experienced professionals are slim (but see my answer to your third question). On the other hand, quite a lot of poorly paid work seems to pass through the site, but if you are living in Germany that work is unlikely to finance even a modest student lifestyle.

Is it easy to get a job for an amateur translator? How often and how much?It seems to me that this website is extremely competitive since it is full of professional translators.


There is no simple answer to this. Even experienced professionals regularly complain how difficult it is to get work through the site. In my view, too many people mislead themselves into believing that ProZ.com is a convenient source of work. There is no substitute for having good skills that are in demand, and being able to market those skills properly; my impression is that this is just as true for those who use ProZ.com effectively, and that they could equally easily be sourcing work elsewhere. Having said all that, some sectors of the market (certain language combinations and certain subject areas) are much more competitive than others (see next question).

3. How competitive is my field? My specialty is in automobile industry. I am also better at Japanese-English and Japanese-Thai translation than the other way round.


I suspect that your language combinations (particularly in conjunction with your subject area) are in fact very desirable, i.e. supply is not particularly strong, and may well even be outstripped by demand (though this is just a hunch on my part). However, in Europe and North America, which is where a substantial part of the reasonably well-paid work comes from (and if you are living in a high-cost country such as Germany, you will need well-paid work), customers are generally unwilling to pay good money for translations that contain numerous errors of spelling, grammar, poor style, etc. Since your English is very poor by native-speaker standards, you may have difficulty marketing Japanese to English translations directly. On the other hand, you may find that teaming up with a native speaker is an effective arrangement. If Thai is your native language, which I suspect is the case, you may have more success concentrating on that combination.

4. How should I get started?


Since translation is my profession and in my view a respectable one, I would be doing it a disservice if I didn't say that it should be left to professionals, i.e. to those who already know what they are doing, for the simple reason that those who don't know what they are doing are deceiving their customers. That's the unhelpful answer to your fourth question. A (slightly more) helpful suggestion is that you offer your services to an experienced translator. Working on translations together (for example with you producing drafts for your experienced colleague to edit) may be a satisfactory arrangement for everyone.

5. What should I write on my CV? Any suggestion?


If you are approaching a colleague as I have suggested above, put any information that might possibly be useful on your CV. If you are determined to look for customers directly, you don't need a CV; CVs are normally for salaried positions. In that case, you need to think in terms of marketing your services.

Marc


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 20:58
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Part-time Silence Mar 8, 2006

You have an interesting language combination without much combination. It is harder to find work, but much easier to keep it. Keep on trying.

One additional bit of advice, not original but I am passing it on: Don't mention that you are part time. Take on as much work as you can; say that you are busy if the load gets too high without explanation. If they need you, they'll wait for you. It will allow you to pick high paying jobs and force you to maintain high quality standards, a good discipline to acquire.

Good luck.

Stephen Rifkind
Hebrew/Russian/French to English


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xxxchrisfinney
Portuguese to English
Your English Skills Mar 8, 2006

I would like to offer a little encouragement, in the face of some of the other comments here. Decribing your English skills as "very poor" was unfair on the part of one translator, and I find it hard to believe you wouldn't be a very qualified candidate for translation work with English as the target, especially within your area of expertise. Further, while it is true that translation should be left to professionals, you seem to fall into that category easily. Good Luck.

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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:58
German to English
+ ...
Is it possible to work as a part-time translator through proz.com? Mar 9, 2006

I think you are the one who is being unfair, Chris. What I actually said was "very poor by native-speaker standards". I have a degree in Italian, as it happens, but I would not be offended if one of the Italian members here were to describe my written Italian in the same terms.

Native-speaker ability is generally regarded as the benchmark for the target-language writing skills of professional translators. For a non-native speaker, Banchongsan's English is commendable.

Marc


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:58
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Answers to your questions Mar 9, 2006

banchongsan wrote:
1. Is it possible to work as a part-time translator through proz.com?


Yes.

2. Is it easy to get a job for an amateur translator?


Amateurs don't get paid, remember. You're a professional translator even if translation is only your second or third income. Do not regard yourself as a less-than-professional.

How competitive is my field? My specialty is in automobile industry. I am also better at Japanese-English and Japanese-Thai translation than the other way round.


Only you can answer that. But don't sit around waiting for jobs to come rolling in... instead, go out there and find the jobs (and see the Proz jobs as extras, since you're a non-paying Proz member).


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:58
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Absolutely Mar 9, 2006

Well said, Marc.

It isn't fair to encourage newbies to launch out into non-dominant language translation. There's already too much of a jungle out here.
I've spoken and written Italian all my life, and I am bilingual to all intents and purposes, but I only translate into English, which is my dominant language.
The point is not to get a job at any cost - the point is to offer a perfect translation and get paid an honest amount of money for it.
There are countless people offering every combination under the sun and making a hash of it. Don't be tempted. Be patient. I was a part-time translator for many many years and it wasn't until the internet took off that I was able to give up a dreadful office job and live my dream. I've never looked back, but it took time.

Best wishes
Angela



MarcPrior wrote:

I think you are the one who is being unfair, Chris. What I actually said was "very poor by native-speaker standards". I have a degree in Italian, as it happens, but I would not be offended if one of the Italian members here were to describe my written Italian in the same terms.

Native-speaker ability is generally regarded as the benchmark for the target-language writing skills of professional translators. For a non-native speaker, Banchongsan's English is commendable.

Marc


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xxxbanchongsan
Local time: 19:58
Japanese to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for all your comments Mar 10, 2006

No matter who is fair, who is unfair, admittedly my English is incomparable to a native speaker. However, having studied in an international school in Thailand, international university in Japan,and now English master program in Germany, I thought that Japanese-English translation is something I also could offer. I found that in automobile industry translating documents from Japanese to English is often far easier than from Japanese to Thai. Because, in English, there are already established technical terms, it is easy to "match" a Japanese technical term with one in English. On the other hand, matching a Japanese word with a Thai word is more difficult since there are many Thai technical words that people in the industry have not yet commonly agreed. Moreover,there are also many technical terms that simply do not exist in Thai as they are still very new.

This is why I think I could offer Japanese-English translation only for my field. Except this, I am certainly not qualified.

One more question, do you think I should try English-Thai translation too?


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tortuga langua
Czech Republic
Local time: 19:58
German to Czech
+ ...
Yes. Mar 10, 2006

I would say: try it - it is your mother tongue, right?
The time will show and at the beginning looks everything a little bit "scary".


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