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Poll: Was translation your first choice as a career?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 02:27
Jun 20, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Was translation your first choice as a career?".

This poll was originally submitted by Nicolas Coyer

View the poll here

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William [Bill] Gray  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:27
Member (2006)
+ ...
I came the long way to translation... Jun 20, 2007

My first career was a bus driver in New Zealand for two years. Then I studied theology and became a pastor. After that, I took an MA in English as a Foreign Language in the country of my birth, Northern Ireland. Then, after we moved to Norway and I had worked some time as an English teacher here, it was a kind of natural development after we had learned the langauge here, to become a freelance translator.

I'm looking forward to what others have to say here!



Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Jun 20, 2007

Translation was first broached as a course to the curriculum committee the year I was graduating. Had to chase it via MA.

(Actually, the reason I did was, it was the first job I landed...)


Joeri Van Liefferinge  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:27
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
I never wanted to become a translator... Jun 20, 2007

When I finished school (Master's degree in Translation, so destined to become a translator), I swore I would never become a full-time translator, let alone a freelance translator, sitting alone in front of his computer all day without any colleagues or social contact. So I started a carreer in marketing. But after less than two years, I began to miss playing with words so much that I began translating on the side, just for fun. A little more than a year later, I was working more than 90 hours per week, translation and my day job combined. So I had to make a choice, as I couldn't keep up that pace for more than a few weeks... In 2001, I gave up my day job as a marketing manager, and I started out as a full-time freelance translator. I haven't regretted that choice for one moment ever since!



Fernando D. Walker  Identity Verified

Local time: 07:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
YES, YES, YES Jun 20, 2007

Hopefully I always knew I wanted to become a translator and I was not wrong about it. If someone asked me to choose a career, I would definitely opt for translation. And thanks to translation, I realized how much I love my native language: SPANISH.


Diamantis Konstantinidis
Local time: 12:27
English to Greek
+ ...
No... [sigh] Jun 20, 2007

I always wanted to become a fighter pilot, but my left eye decided it wanted to become short-sighted. So now I 'm a translator by night, bank employee by day. Not so exciting. I still admire airplanes and the sky!


Amy Duncan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:27
Portuguese to English
+ ...
I still don't want to be a translator! Jun 20, 2007

It's not that I don't enjoy certain aspects of translating, but it is not my heart's desire and I confess I do it mostly to pay the bills.

I've been a professional musician since age 15, and that is my heart's desire. But sometimes it's difficult to earn money with music because people tend not to go out so much any more to hear live music. Also, the band I have is quite large, so paying the members can be a problem. Nevertheless, I love it and will never give it up!

The good thing about translating, though, is the freedom of being a freelancer, plus I like working with words, and I love working at home.



David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
No... "accidental" translator Jun 20, 2007

I started as a high school dropout, worked at a McDonald's, went through a period as an automobile mechanic, spent a summer as a janitor, later worked many aspects of construction (roofing, trim, carpeting, framing), was a security guard, a short order cook, an electrician's assistant, a beach bum and several other things I no loger remember.

I eventually decided to go back to school to study astronoymy, and took up languages almost as an afterthought. With time, I switched major, but with an eye on becoming a literature professor. I started getting smallish translation jobs while in college, and learned that I really liked translation, and eventually switched gears and here I am, almost 20 years later, and I love what I do.

Ironically, my father was a translator also, and also "accidental" (he had trained as a lawyer and in medicine, but never practiced either profession).


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:27
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It's a long story.... Jun 20, 2007

I wanted to read medicine and didn't qualify for Med. school.

I started on a degree in French and German because my teachers thougt it was a good idea, but dropped out after two years due to illness. When I was well enough to go back, the syllabus had changed and so had I. I enrolled on the first course with vacant places for the next September - and trained as an Information Scientist, basically a technical librarian with German as a subsidiary subject. Translating was a possibility, but I found a job with a research organisation that published abstracts journals.

Meanwhile I met a couple of Danes at a summer camp... and married one of them, so I ended up in Copenhagen. I had to start again at language school, and then looked after children, worked at a factory, as a janitor and in the home-care service (and lost the last vestigial illusions about medicine!!). I studied at night school and took Danish Open University courses, and progressed to working at the local library and then a museum of glass art. At one stage I did apply for an in-house translation job, and did not get it, but I decided I simply must have the next one ...

Jobs were hard to come by, especially after we moved away from Copenhagen, so I had to take what I could get. There was no question of choice: it was anything to earn an honest week's pay. The glass museum job was for a fixed season, and I applied for everything, likely or not, as I knew I would have to leave.

I did make a special effort over an application to a translation agency! I was even called in for an interview, and managed not to fudge it, but I could not believe my luck when I was actually offered the job.

It was definitely the best job I have ever had, apart from working freelance, but I would probably not have had the courage to start on my own without the experience of working in house and building up a network.

Maybe if I had been able to choose, I would have gone for translation earlier. It was definitely an element in many of the jobs I applied for and my various studies. Even so, I have never shed the tears over it that I shed over not getting into Med school... but I have to admit that I just haven't got what it takes to be a doctor!

It is not always a tragedy when you don't get what you want in life. Or what you think you want! The secret is to get the best out of what life gives you.

Happy translating!



Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
No such thing as irrelevant experience for translating Jun 20, 2007

"I started as a high school dropout, worked at a McDonald's, went through a period as an automobile mechanic, spent a summer as a janitor, later worked many aspects of construction (roofing, trim, carpeting, framing), was a security guard, a short order cook, an electrician's assistant, a beach bum and several other things I no loger remember."

...all of which no doubt have come in useful at some stage when translating....!


Claudia Aguero  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 04:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Jun 20, 2007

No, I wanted to become a sports journalist or a doctor working at intensive care units or in emergency rooms. (I'd still love to be any of those.) However, when I finished high school, there was only one university in my country, so only people with the best admission scores could choice any of these majors. I began to take English classes trying to have a chance in medicine or in journalism. When I realized, I was about to finish my major in English and gave up my initial goals.

Shortly before graduating from the University, I realized my bachelor's degree in English, at that moment, was not very useful for me. I was neither a translator nor an English teacher. I just learned English: writing, literature, grammar, so on.

Thus, immediately after finishing the University, I started to study to become an "Executive Bilingual Secretary", (I had done some secretarial work during summers.) There, people offered me to teach grammar.

My first job was as the secretary of one of my country's must successful entrepreneurs. While I was working in this company, I enrolled back at the university and got a licentiate degree in Translation.

When I quit this 6-year stressful job, translation and teaching came to my life at the same time, without looking for them. Despite I have a degree in translation, I just cannot remember how I got my first projects and clients, without even knowing any other colleagues or the market.


Anne Wosnitza  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:27
English to German
+ ...
Arts, Design, that sort... Jun 20, 2007

I am a passionate drawer and painter and would prefer earning money through my art. But after I've spent a volunteer year in England and found out that art is not the right horse to bet on, I went for languages and ended up studying technical translation - and here I am. Still dreaming the dream of arts... and already working on my own art-related websiteicon_biggrin.gif


Rebecca Lowery  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:27
French to English
No I was all set to be a lawyer! Jun 20, 2007

And did a degree in Law with French with a diploma in French law...and hated every minute of it! (Although I have to admit the money was enticing). When I finished my degree, I really had no idea what to do as a career and had a chat with my tutor and told her that I loved the French side of my degree especially the translation aspects. My tutor suggested that I become a legal translator so I enrolled on an MA and haven't looked back since.

I love what I do - sure I'm not driving a Porsche like some of my solicitor friends working in London but I actually have a life. I love working from home and certainly don't miss any of the office politics that I had when working as an in-house translator.


Stephanie Mitchel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:27
French to English
Not quite Jun 20, 2007

I really wanted to be an interpreter, then went into the T&I MA program at Monterey and choked. It's only since I've been out of school that I've been able to hold my own. Something about the professional setting where I feel useful rather than like a lab specimen.

No regrets of course -- they gave me excellent (if grueling) preparation!



Local time: 11:27
English to Italian
No. Jun 20, 2007

Since I am not yet really a translator but , for the moment, just a student in translation I am not probably the best candidate to answer to the poll.
As physician in a General Hospital in Italy I still spend most part of my time to cure patients and/or to study and up-to-date my knowledge to cure them as well as possible.
However, a part -time job as translator, more specifically in the field which I am familiar with, seems to me a good way to obtain : 1) A deep and more acccurate comprehension of the same texts , articles and /or books which are commonly read as up-to-date and 2) A way to have acquaintance of people with different abilities and studies all over the world. The third advantage of job seems to me the possibility to work through P.C. from my house.
For all the reasons, it represents, in my opinion, a good "second" job, not necessarily excluding other works, with particular regard to a specific area of knowledge.

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