Is it easy to find a translation job?
Thread poster: Gareth Leung (X)

Gareth Leung (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:44
English to Chinese
+ ...
Aug 10, 2009

I'll migrate to Sydney from Hong Kong later this year. I want to be a Chinese-English translator (both directions) but there seems to be not many vacancies. I'd like to know what government agencies or private companies are likely to offer full-time translation jobs and generally how much the pay is.

I've gained NAATI's accreditation. Do you have any advice on boosting the chance to secure a job in Australia (under such economic conditions)? Thank you!


Patricia Will  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:44
Member (2004)
German to English
Is it easy to find a translation job? Aug 12, 2009

Hi Gareth,

I'm not that familiar with the Chinese-English market in translation but I think you will find, if you look at the recruitment ads in any Australian newspaper, or recruitment websites, that there are very few jobs for full-time, inhouse translators at all. Like everywhere else in the world most translators are working as freelancers, or combine translating and interpreting as freelancers, working mainly for agencies and yes, government departments, but not as employees. There may be a few very large organisations or international agencies in Australia that employ full-time translators but that would surely be the exception rather than the rule. I don't know if you have done the NAATI test specifically to pursue a career as a translator in Australia or as a way of gaining extra immigration points (as many people do apparently) but if you were given the impression that there are unlimited jobs for translators here this would be misleading. Of course as a freelancer you can work for clients worldwide whatever your location, provided you have some business and marketing knowhow. If you have some other qualifications or training you may find that there are in fact more opportunities in that particular field, or use these to establish a specialisation as a translator. Remember that the NAATI test is only the absolute minimum, entry-level qualification and you will need to offer a bit more than that to stand out from the crowd.
I hope that some other colleagues with a better knowledge of the market for this language pairing respond to your query, but I think most colleagues would agree that in-house translation jobs are largely a thing of the past.
Hope this helps.
Best regards


Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
Visa Status/NAATI Accreditation level Aug 13, 2009

I would like to add that your chances also depend on your visa status, especially in recession times.
If you are going to be a Permanent Resident or an Australian citizen, wonderful, you are entitled to work for both government agencies and private companies.
If you have a temporary are not entitled to work for government agencies, and you will find it difficult to be hired by private companies as well, since they have to prove that they cannot employ a Permanent Resident or an Australian citizen before they are allowed to employ YOU (it can be a lenghty process, around two months from what I have heard...).

Your chances also depend on your Accreditation level. Don't expect to get much work in Sydney if you are accredited at the Paraprofessional level : agencies send work in priority to people accredited at Professional level, and there are plenty of them!

Good luck!


Gareth Leung (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:44
English to Chinese
+ ...
Thanks for your reply Aug 17, 2009

I've obtained permanent residency in Australia and I'm already a NAATI-accredited professional translator. But since I have no local experience in Australia at all, I worry that it'll be difficult for me to find a job there.

I'm also a bit disappointed to find that there are so few full-time jobs for translators in Australia. In Hong Kong, quite a number of government departments and companies hire inhouse translators (I've been a full-time translator for 3 years myself). Although the incomes are generally not high (seldom over HK$250,000 or A$40,000 a year), at least our earnings are stable. I know the rates of freelance translation in Australia are much higher than those in HK, but I still feel insecure to work as a freelancer there. Can I get ENOUGH WORK STEADILY?

I'll be grateful if anyone who works in this industry can share his/her experience with me. Do you recommend me to continue pursuing a career as a translator in Australia?

Do you recommend me to continue pursuing a career as a translator in Australia? Jun 7, 2010

Well, this is Australia, not Hong Kong. So maybe you should adjust yourself into the new world rather than sticking into a full time translation job. As those two ladies already offered the reality of translation industry in Australia....


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