Where are all the non-technical jobs?
Thread poster: erolufs

erolufs  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:38
French to English
Sep 20, 2002

Hello, Friends. I\'ve been desperately seeking a project for eight weeks now, but can\'t find anything that\'s suitable for me. All the listings want technical expertise and 5 years + experience. How does one with a degree in French Literature break into the technology field? ***Better yet, where are all the non-technical jobs?*** I\'m on ProZ, Aquarius, Trally, Traduguide, Translatorscafe and several newsgroups, and everything is about engineering, law, or software. Is there any forum for arts and humanities types???

Thanks for your help!!

Erica Rolufs


Alison Schwitzgebel
Local time: 14:38
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Why are you relying solely on the Internet? Sep 20, 2002

If you can\'t find suitable jobs on the Net, why not contact agencies directly? Just look in your copy of the yellow pages and phone them up and ask whether they are looking for translators. They may well have non-technical jobs on offer.




Gayle Wallimann  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:38
Member (2001)
French to English
+ ...
Do call our send to agencies Sep 21, 2002

Hello Erica,

Alison is right, don\'t rely solely on the net. Actually, very few jobs come from the net, especially when you are getting started. Send your CV out and do give some phone calls to agencies. Good luck!

Gayle icon_smile.gif


Arthur Borges
Local time: 21:38
+ ...
Network, Advertise and Overhaul Your Mindset! Sep 21, 2002

The most important qualification for becoming a good translator is the ability to develop a sincere interest in ABSOLUTELY ANYTHNG! If you can\'t do that, you\'ll either starve or hate every minute of your working day --and night --and weekend --and national holiday.

Literature tranlations are out there, but rare and underpaid -- most of it is in the classrooms, handed out by professors with civil service security.

Most people who need translations badly enough to pay for them are on the cutting edge of something in one way or another, so it\'s specialised, one way or another.

Thus, do an inventory of family: is daddy a dentist or mom a meteorologist; does your uncle assemble VWs in Wolfsburg, did your aunt retire as a weapons officer on a Libyan submarine? All of these people have access to personal connections, will know which rags in their trade press are the most widely read, and perhaps friends who can fix you up with doc or two to do.

How about your best friends: any retired engineers in the grandfather generation? They\'re likely to have lots of spare time to explain how a given gizmo plugs into the whatchamacallits.

Agency work is great because it\'ll throw anything at you from aeronautical bolt standards to death certificates. But they will likely want a reference or two. From French to English, I\'ve seen a lot of people who are simply cut out for something else besides translation -- it demands both focused analysis and the ability to stand back, get perspective and impart coherence to a text -- sometimes more than the author did.

Another point: when you don\'t know something, confess it glady: flag the sentence and ask the client. Look at it as like going to school. The \"teacher\" gives you homework, you sit down at home and do it, turn it in, you & client correct it together, s/he sends you your \"scholarship\" in the mail and you know you\'ve passed the course if s/he calls you back.

No translation is too small. Make sure you deliver it in person \"for final adjustments\" -- it\'s an excuse to meet the client, personalise the relationship and make a good impression. A few weeks later, you may be pleasantly surprised to land some huge doc that\'ll pay several months\' rent.

Lstly, there IS fun to be had in technical translations, but often it\'s off the record. I still remember doing a tender for radio masts in the Sinai peninsula. The French text talked about \"tension laterale dans les micropieux\". Well, in English, that\'s called \"skin friction in micropiles\", which had me bubbling over with mirth when I realised it sooner suggested some aspect of hemorrhoids.

Good luck!



Aliseo Japan
Local time: 22:38
Italian to Japanese
+ ...
No much money around Sep 21, 2002

Perhaps this is one of the results of the ongoing world recession: even in recession times companies have to translate manuals anyway, sign contracts and carry out legal litigations for the sake of their normal business. I think - I hope - that when better times will arrive there will be more money around to finance the cultural growth of this technically-oriented world.

Keep up trying, anyway

Mario Cerutti


schmurr  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:38
Italian to German
+ ...
great, Arthur! Sep 21, 2002

especially the beginning - The most important qualification for becoming a good translator is the ability to develop a sincere interest in ABSOLUTELY ANYTHNG! If you can\'t do that, you\'ll either starve or hate every minute of your working day -

which describes my situation exactly!

Your contribution deserves to become part of the proZ site, e. g. under Advice -> Advice for beginners!

Only your example for \"fun\" did not convince me, as I\'m not a native speaker of English. But if somebody needs more examples (in 5 languages), go to http://www.proz.com/home/20424/aut.html !


Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:38
Dutch to English
+ ...
Arthur's advise is spot on! Sep 21, 2002

What he describes has also been my experience. I rolled into translation work 19 years ago because my father was in the wool business and the UK Wool Board had some people coming over from Spain who didn\'t speak a word of English. Would I come and help them out. Sure I said. I\'ve never looked back.

Your best bet is to pal up with an experienced translator who will help you do a few translations (i.e. look at your translation before delivery to the customer). This way you get experience and you know that what you deliver is good! It may not pay very well to start with but you will learn a lot about technical \'things\' and also get pointers of where to look for information.

Good luck!


Arthur Borges
Local time: 21:38
+ ...
Dear Martin, Sep 22, 2002

Thank you for the compliment, but yes, there should be a long piece on \"Advice for Beginners\" if there isn\'t one already! And you are welcome to include this after any editing you see fit.


Arthur Borges
Local time: 21:38
+ ...
Dear Erolufs, Sep 22, 2002

As your question continues working its way across my synapses, I would add that if you are translating because what you really want is to be a writer, but feel you have nothing to tell Humanity, go out and find something to write about.

Do this by doing things, seeing people and visiting places that inspire you: if you are going to starve, then do it in a self-fulfilling way.

You have the IQ and material resources to rise above enslavement: exploit them to the full.

Writing is only a part of translation, so it is demanding in more (and different) ways. Translation also means living in a state of constant incompleteness -- you will rarely turn in a document that satisfies you completely unless you are so specialised that you master the subject as well as the author, which happens only rarely for many of us.

Lastly, whatever the field you elect for your career, know that, once you\'ve mastered your tools and honed your skills to acceptable professional standard the difference between competence and genius is how much you have grown as a person in the broadest, deepest and most immaterial sense of the word.


mmachado (X)
English to Portuguese
Great advice Dec 15, 2002


I just want to say that Arthur is really giving very good advices. I am sure that any translator who is now starting and that can follow all the advices given will surely be a good and reliable translator in a few years time.

In my opinion, saying the client we don\'t understand some part of text and sending them our queries only shows that we are willing to learn and want to send them the best possible translation. Some people think queries mean we don\'t know enough... but is there anyone who know everything and needs to learn no more??? Don\'t think so.

Well, I always ask when I am not 120% sure and ask again if the answers given are not completely clear. I think clients appreciate that too. They like to know that we are really doing the best and not only for the pay.

All the best

Kind regards,

Mónica Machado


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