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Off topic: How long have you been in the business?
Thread poster: Fan Gao

Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 15:12
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Sep 1, 2006

Hi,

I've posted this under "off-topic" because it's not really specific to any one area. Hope that's ok.

I guess it could have been a poll but then the options would be vague and I have other questions that go with it:)

Here are my questions:

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time?

2) If you also have a part time job do you envisage one day switching to full time translation?

3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing?

4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand?

5) If you've just started out freelancing do you see yourself doing this for many years to come?

6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change?

7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?

8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?

I'm 38 now and I know there are alot of younger translators out there and there are alot of older translators out there. This afternoon I found myself in one of those philosophical moods where you try to figure out where you're going and I asked myself "how long can I see myself doing this for?"

Don't misunderstand me I love everything about the profession and the only negative aspect I can think of is the too much time I spend in front of my computer!

I'd be really interested to hear about your experiences and thoughts and your aspirations for either maintaining and building and improving on what you have now or whether you foresee a total change in the future.

Maybe you started out when you were younger and thought of it then as a temporary thing but now you still find yourself doing it. Do you ever think back and think "wow, I have this great career" or do you have any regrets?

Many thanks for reading and best wishes,
Mark


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:12
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Freelancer Sep 1, 2006

Hi Mark,

I think this is an interesting questionnaire.

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time?


I work as full time translator.

2) If you also have a part time job do you envisage one day switching to full time translation?


No, I don't have a part time job. But I do give language lessons. EFL and HFL.

3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing?


I've been freelancing since 1996 but I had a job to support me till April 2005. And I was a part-time Freelancer till then.

4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand?


I've never worked as a translator for an agency. Most of my employments, though language based, have been in other fields.

5) If you've just started out freelancing do you see yourself doing this for many years to come?


NA

6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change?


I love freelancing and that's why I quit my job to become full-time freelancer. Agreed, it's not the easiest occupation... in terms of earning. I was earning more as an employee as compared to what I earned in the months of May to August 2005 (Just after I became a full time freelancer).

7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?


For me it's what I want to do for the rest of my life... and retirement? No... I don't see myself retiring from this till the day I quit this world

8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?


I'm content with my specialised language pair. In fact, I avoid doing anything else and as much of pure translation as I can get. This is what makes me happy.

I'm a translator by choice and not by chance.

Ritu


[Edited at 2006-09-01 08:53]


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:12
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Too much time in front of computer Sep 1, 2006

Hi Mark,

Well, on an average an executive spends much more time in front of the computer and that too in a small space... and then all that office politics...

Well, I've been lucky and had well-paying jobs and a certain amount of freedom because of my qualifications and skills... but the most fun I had in an organization was when I translated a highly technical document for them... God... I even worked in Lodhi Gardens. Believe me it was fun...

And so much different from that confined office environment (I mean they even recorded when you go to Wash Room or to drink water)and office politics. Not complaining... 'coz I still got above 99% in appraisals

I'm happy. I work as I please and am in contact with nature... even if it means just watching out of the window.

I don't work 10 hours or more while being paid only for 7

After being in that environment for 8 years... I am happy and content at last.

Feels great to be Free (lancer)

Just my view...

regards,

Ritu

[Edited at 2006-09-01 09:09]


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 07:12
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
No better life!!! Sep 1, 2006

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time?

I work full time.


2) If you also have a part time job do you envisage one day switching to full time translation?

I used to, but gave it up to become full time translator.


3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing?

Full time since January 2004.


4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand?

Straight to part time freelancer.


5) If you've just started out freelancing do you see yourself doing this for many years to come?

I have been freelancing since 2000, and I see myself doing this forever ;o)


6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change?

Oh yes. And I get fed up with clients wanting me to work for them etc., but then I am free to take a day or two off without having to ask a grunchy boss ;o)


7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?

Definitely a career for life!


8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?

I occasionally outsource the odd job, but I would never consider becoming an agency. Too much administration etc. - I live to translate ;o)


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Zhijun JIANG  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:12
English to Chinese
+ ...
Future of our translators Sep 1, 2006

Hi, Mark,

As a professional translator at nearly same age as yours, my family members and I keep on asking myself whether I can always work so hard until 40s and even 50s?
Definitely not.
As a professional translator, I benefit a lot from the English language and the knowledge in a wide spectrum fields, in particular the business and/or commercial fields. With that, I have to combine my knowledge gained from translation experience with whatever industry such as iron, wire drawing etc. to leverage my niches, which is what I am doing now, otherwise I have no choice but to do the translation and face the tiring job.
This is a rewarding career, but this is not the most profitable one. As the most profitable industry is the capital intensive industry instead of knowledge intensive industry.

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time?
Full time.

2) If you also have a part time job do you envisage one day switching to full time translation?

3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing?
Full time translator since the commencement of my career.

4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand?
I worked for a translation agency.

5) If you've just started out freelancing do you see yourself doing this for many years to come?
I will do translation for my life, but will not do it on full-time basis for life.

6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change?
I don’t feel bored about this career, as you have to learn fresh input everyday. But I need change, just because some day I am not able to sustain such hard working way.

7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?
Freelancing is a good way to expand you vision and channel for up-to-date information. I will do it for my life.

8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?
Now I expanded my concept into an agency, but only focus on our niche language pairs. We do what we are good at.


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Sybille  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:12
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Freelancer Sep 1, 2006

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time?
Full time

2) If you also have a part time job do you envisage one day switching to full time translation?


3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing?
since Aug. 2004

4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand?

I was employed for a company beforehand for 29 years.
And I did part time freelancing since 1991.

5) If you've just started out freelancing do you see yourself doing this for many years to come?

I love this profession and will be doing it still for a while.

6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change?

No, it's never boring. tThe only thing is: I don't like the administrative work connected with freelancing

7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?

through to retirement

8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?

No, I don't want to expand into an agency anymore.
I am content with my specialised language pairs EN-GE; RU-GE


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:12
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
From an old-timer Sep 1, 2006

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time? Part time.

2) If you also have a part time job do you envisage one day switching to full time translation? N/A. I have pension income + freelance. I'm doing about as much freelancing as I want to do.

3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing? Since 1965 (41 years)

4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand? Translator in full-time employment 1953-1990 for RAF, Civil Service and BBC.

5) If you've just started out freelancing do you see yourself doing this for many years to come? N/A

6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change? No

7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?
Only to retirement? I retired 16 years ago and I'm still freelancing.

8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?
No agency ambitions.


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:12
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Nice idea Mark Sep 1, 2006

Hi Mark

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time?

Full time

2) If you also have a part time job do you envisage one day switching to full time translation?

I already did my choice last year

3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing?

since 2000,

4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand?

I was the inhouse translator for a company till 2000

5) If you've just started out freelancing do you see yourself doing this for many years to come?

NA

6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change?

Never, I love translating

7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?

No retirement for me, if health and brain permit of course
you never know

8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?

No, too much administration and fiscal problems, I just would like to learn 1 or 2 more languages

Bye bye Mark,

have a great week end

Angio


[Edited at 2006-09-01 11:09]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
at a crossroads:-) Sep 1, 2006

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time? FT

2) If you also have a part time job do you envisage one day switching to full time translation? N/A

3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing? 12 YRS

4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand? STRAIGHT

5) If you've just started out freelancing do you see yourself doing this for many years to come? N/A

6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change? OCCASIONALLY

7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement? CAREER

8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s? PLAN TO REMAIN A TRANSLATOR

Just to clarify. I have been working about 12 years, first PT then FT. Until a few years ago I worked hard on acquiring training and clients. Now I feel established, to the point where I have nearly doubled my minimum rate in about 2 years, simply becuase I usually have about 2-3 weeks work in hand at any one time. I still charge low rates to a few older clients, but now only quote for new clients at the higher rate.

In the last year I have sometimes felt burned out (and also am beginning to suffer the physical consequences of many hours on the computer), so at this stage I feel that to 'survive' as a motivated professional, A) I possibly need to become highly specialised in the two-three areas of translation that interest me B) I need to earn a good rate of pay.

I feel, however, that my learning curve is flattening out, i.e. I have acquired all the necessary basic language and translation skills through education and experience both. However, I'm now involved in a project to publish medical translations in a peer-reviewed journal and the really complex aspects of this job have little to do with translation per se. They are A) acquiring in-depth knowledge of style (as per the AMA Style Guide, a very dense reference book) and B) understanding the complex process behind publishing (and including the issue of plagiarism, which can be very subtle and is on the increase).

So, right now I feel I'm at a crossroads: I can choose to do simpler jobs that pay less but that merely require me to translate and deliver, end of story. Or I can choose to go down the difficult road of further professional development that very likely could place me in an excellent position as a highly qualified translation professional at the top-end of the market in the medium term.

I have no thoughts to change profession, my age is against me and I feel that I would not adapt very well, given my many years of autonomy.

So those are my thoughts, a snapshot of my situation at present:-)


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 08:12
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
born to translate Sep 1, 2006

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time?
Full time for me.

3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing?
Some 6 years now.

4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand?
I started to get involved in translation by translating different texts at University for the simple reason that I was one of the few people there with more or less decent knowledge of English and so was helping my colleagues with translating the texts necessary for the studies. After that one retail company hired me for freelance translations and since then – „the rest is motion picture history” as they say:))

6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change?
I was a bit bored by the second year at the retail company (due to the texts being all the same basically), while since Ive left them and am working with agencies and direct clients its all a pure excitement really.

7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?
Oh definitely!

8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?
Im happy with being my own boss. I became a freelancer in order to escape spending time at some office so I cant picture myself going back to that. I like my independence way too much and am more than happy with my language pairs and above all – Im a translator not a manager.

bramasole

[Edited at 2006-09-01 11:21]


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 06:12
my answers :) Sep 1, 2006

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time?

Full time.

3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing?

Since 2004.

4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand?

I worked in an agency beforehand, went straight to freelancing. (the problem with being a language graduate in Ireland is that recruitment agencies just see you as call-centre fodder and I did NOT want to go down that road!!) Prior to that, I worked in an IT company dealing with German customers.

6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change?

I've been freelancing for three years now. Once I get to the five year mark, I will be around 30-31 years of age... who know what will happen then and where I will be in my life. I could keep churning out translations until I'm 65 but I want to develop other skills too and try other things.

7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?

This is the longest I have ever been in the same job I don't see it as a stop-gap, but as part of a career curve. I reckon in a few years time, I will probably return to a "proper" office in some capacity as a project manager.

8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?

I've already expanded into the agency side of things, through a client (agency) who wanted to get into the Irish market and wanted me to be their representative here. It has been a fantastic opportunity for me and I'm thrilled with the progress we have made.

So that's my 2c


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:12
German to English
This is your life... Sep 1, 2006

Mark,

I certainly won't be translating on the desert island, mind.

1) Full-time

3) 17 years, including 11 at our partnership

4) Worked in a number of jobs/careers before moving into (solo freelance) translating.

6) Ye gods yes! Forget the "I love languages" stuff, there comes a point when you actively start hating languages. You get over it after a few days, though. What really helps is doing something on the side that's not actually translating, but still useful for your profession, i.e. working on projects in your subject area, teaching and lecturing, that sort of thing.

7) There's an old saying in our business that "good translators never retire, they just get slower".

Which brings me to another point: the older you get (and I'm nearly 50 now, god help me), you do slow down, no doubt about it. That doesn't mean you necessarily work longer, though, because you're shedloads more productive than you were 10 years before.

8) You can either be an agency or a world-class translator. I don't think you can be both.

This afternoon I found myself in one of those philosophical moods where you try to figure out where you're going and I asked myself "how long can I see myself doing this for?"


Happens a lot, believe me. The translation business is incredibly intensive and demands a lot of intellectual and emotional effort, day in, day out. I think the trick is to try and find a path that allows you to do what you enjoy doing (and hopefully that's the same as what you do best), without getting mired in the minor details. Not an easy balancing act, to be sure.

do you have any regrets?


If you're good, and busy, you can't afford the luxury of regrets. Although - mirroring Mrs. Moneypenny in the FT a few weekends back - I do wish that I'd become a chartered/certified accountant a couple of decades back. Sounds weird/boring, I know, but it would have saved me an aggregate couple of years' research as a financial translator.

Robin


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
Always good to reflect Sep 1, 2006

I will take a break from my work to answer you, because I think it is always a good idea to reflect about what we do for a living (but I will answer only the questions that apply to me):

:
1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time?


Full-time.

:
3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing?


About 9 years (freelance) and about 4 years (in-house).

:
4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand?


I worked in-house in various translation companies.

:
6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change?


Sure, and this explains why I have approached other areas related to languages (see my profile), but my main interest is words and languages.

:
7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?


For me it's definitely a career.

:
8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?


I never dreamed of becoming a business, as business is not for me. As long as I can (health permitting) earn a good salary, I will continue with this job, until retirement.

:
This afternoon I found myself in one of those philosophical moods where you try to figure out where you're going and I asked myself "how long can I see myself doing this for?"


I am sure it happens to most (if not all) of us.

:
Don't misunderstand me I love everything about the profession and the only negative aspect I can think of is the too much time I spend in front of my computer!


A lot of jobs nowadays require the use of computers, so as long as we are aware of how to avoid any "side-effects" caused by PC use, I think we can manage.

Cheers,

Ivette


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xxxIanW
Local time: 07:12
German to English
+ ...
My turn! Sep 1, 2006

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time?

Full time


2) If you also have a part time job do you envisage one day switching to full time translation?

N/A


3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing?

Almost 4 years


4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand?

I worked at an agency for three years, but did little translation there - mostly coordination work and proof-reading (which I avoid like the plague now)


5) If you've just started out freelancing do you see yourself doing this for many years to come?

Yes, it's a great life. Every day, you have the freedom to decide whose slave to be


6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change?

Yes, but a few days off usually takes care of that. It usually comes from working several weekends in a row.


7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?

Definitely not a temporary stop-gap, but I can see myself expanding into other areas to stop myself getting bored.


8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?

No, I became a freelance to get away from the über-stress of agency work

Having said that, I've been studing financial accounting on the side for the last year and will be extremely glad when it's all over (mid-October).


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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:12
English to Polish
Career for me Sep 1, 2006

1) Do you work as a translator full time or part time?

Full time

2) If you also have a part time job do you envisage one day switching to full time translation?

That's exactly what I did Left old office job to become full time freelancer.

3) If you work as a full time translator how long have you been freelancing?

3 years, but I am full time since January this year.

4) Did you go straight to freelance or were you employed as a translator for an agency/company beforehand?

I wasted many years in jobs I hated and below my qualifications, thinking that the only way to work as a translator is being hired by an agency. I wanted to be translator since studies, but my applications to agencies took me nowhere, until I found ProZ and learned I can work as a freelancer, being my own boss.

5) If you've just started out freelancing do you see yourself doing this for many years to come?

Yes.

6) If you've been freelancing for a few years (+5 years) do you ever get bored and feel in need of a change?

n/a

7) Is freelance translation a temporary stop-gap for you or do you consider it to be a career that will see you through to retirement?

Career.

8) Do you have dreams of expanding into an agency to cater for all languages or are you content with your specialised language pair/s?

No, I like being a freelancer, and am not interested in running a company


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