Job prospects for translators in Australia/USA?
Thread poster: ejr17

Local time: 13:57
Apr 21, 2016

I just wanted some enlightenment on the future job prospects for freelance translators/interpreters in Australia and USA, I have read on a couple of posts that finding jobs as a German>English translator/interpreter would be very difficult due to the high demand and high competition in Australia and in the USA.

Thus, I have been considering Mandarin or Cantonese>English because there seems to be a lot of articles etc. that suggest they are in high demand. However, because Chinese is the second most spoken language in Australia and third most spoken language in America, wouldn't there also be high competition due to immigrants that have arrived who are fluent in both Chinese and English?

Any enlightenment and advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:57
Member (2007)
+ ...
Why expect the impossible to happen? Apr 21, 2016

You want high demand and low competition? Where in the world and in what line of work does that situation exist for more than a very short time? I think you have to find a new market for it to happen at all, and then you only get a small advance jump on the competition before everyone floods in to compete. Why so afraid of competition, anyway? If the demand exists and you're good, there should be a place for you.

What you should be bothering about is deciding what's best for you.

1) Most people will have a need to be in Australia or the US - for personal or legal reasons.

2) Choosing a source language is most often done well before thinking about becoming a translator or interpreter. To get to the very high level needed (rather than just a diploma) can take up to 10 years. Maybe it's longer if you're talking of such a different language to English as Mandarin. And if you already have a very high level in all three, why not offer your services in all three?

3) Some people can both translate and interpret, but not that many. The two call for totally different skills, while sharing the need for a pair of languages. And they call for very different personalities, hence the reason most of us consider ourselves unsuited to both. I personally did three interpreting assignments and was praised for each but I found all three to be harrowing. Interpreting for a man whose brother was in intensive care got me very upset; for a house sale I struggled to get the correct terms to the tip of my tongue in a split second; and a meeting to agree the sale of industrial equipment was downright terrifying, with lots of very large numbers of euros flying between them for a full three hours with no more than a quick pee pause. That's when I decided I'd better stick to translating written words at my own pace, and then checking my work.

Once you've decided what you do best, go for it! And aim to be good generally, and the best in a niche market. One freelancer doesn't need an enormous amount of work per day compared to what's out there, so if there's demand then there should be enough for you.


Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:57
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Fill in your profile Apr 21, 2016

There is virtually nothing in it at the moment. A more detailed profile will not only give potential clients an opportunity of finding out about you, it will also help us to help you.


Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:57
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
finding work... Apr 21, 2016

..your profile suggests you are currently in Australia...
and you might speak/write/understand German already...

So basically the whole world is open to you!

Being in a certain country does not mean you can only accept clients locally...
You might accept jobs from the US, Australia, Japan, the Philippines or South-Africa from the comfort of your own PC/tablet/kictchen/living room...

The same goes for interpreting, I've been on a company visit as an interpreter for an Italian agency, with a Portuguese auditor for a British firm in the Netherlands...(ok it's usefull if you live near the site where they actually need the interpreter)...

Now if you don't speak/ understand German or Chinese already at an extremely high level, it's not something you can learn during a summer course....
So you might just stick to translation (where you normally have the time to look up a few things, or discuss issues with colleagues)...

...and as the same time I'm wondering if you have given this any thought yourself already... it seems so bizarre I have to explain the very basics of a profession...



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

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

Job prospects for translators in Australia/USA?

Advanced search

WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »
BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search