Questions for translators in Toronto - more specifically Spanish translators.
Thread poster: Joshua Velasquez

Joshua Velasquez
Canada
Local time: 02:31
Spanish to English
Aug 31, 2016

Hello, I am a recently graduated Spanish translation student in Toronto. I am just asking for any advice on getting started. I was thinking at first becoming a freelancer, but perhaps I should start working for an agency, so I can get more renowned. Do you recommend against that? Any advice on where to get started?

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:31
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I'm not in the country nor the language Sep 1, 2016

Hello and welcome to ProZ.com.

It would be really helpful to potential responders to know a little more about you. Without even knowing your language pair(s), it's so difficult to be specific.

Do you think you could complete some of the fields in your profile for us?


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Joshua Velasquez
Canada
Local time: 02:31
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for the suggestion. Sep 1, 2016

Sorry, I am quite new to the site and I forgot to update my profile. The members should know a little more about me now.

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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 01:31
German to English
+ ...
not sure why Toronto specifically Sep 1, 2016

You would only be restricted to Toronto if you were an interpreter, because of needing to be physically in situ. As a translator your customers could be anywhere in the world, and closer to home, at least in Ontario. In Toronto, you are also at the seat of the provincial government. Have you applied for ATIO certification yet?

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:31
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Two options Sep 1, 2016

If you can find a job with an agency for the first few years, I would say go for it. It may give you valuable experience in translation and also a good insight into how agencies work.

Starting out as a freelancer, you would almost certainly need another job to make a living. It isn't easy to translate in the evening when you have already worked a full day and it doesn't always work out with clients' deadlines. And you will not be able to take on the larger jobs that pay well.

I'm with Sheila with regard to completing your profile. If you are now graduated, switch from a student membership to a regular membership and add your credentials etc. into your profile. If you have not already done so, become a member of ATIO and get certified - there is always a demand for certified trranslations.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:31
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
So you don't translate between Canada's two languages Sep 2, 2016

One thing that was important for us to know was whether you used both English and French. I hear there are plenty of salaried jobs for those pairs (i.e. each way) in Canada. That probably doesn't hold true in ES>EN. You could certainly try for an in-house job but I think most agencies employ PMs and proofreaders more often than translators. With just one pair, I'm not sure they'd be interested.

As Maxi says, the world is your market, not Toronto. I imagine a lot of your work will come from the States, or Latin America? I'm not alone in having clients all over the world, and when I moved from France to Spain I only lost one. So, think big for a small business.

Like Tina, I think that starting as a freelancer hoping for full-time work and earnings is going to be hard. With some luck, great marketing and tight purse-strings I'm sure it can be done, though. But the ideal would be a part-time job, either using your languages or something easy on the brain like tossing burgers. More than part-time would restrict your ability to take on translation jobs. What you need to do to start with is be available for the jobs nobody else wants: Friday afternoon for Monday morning; over public holidays especially the turn of the year; and in July and August. Don't work for stupid rates - instead, work at market rates at stupid hours (unsocial ones rather than 24/7). And some of the online platforms might be worth considering as you only grab those jobs you can do straight away. But many pay peanuts and want silk.

Do bear in mind that you're a tiny sprat in the sea of ES>EN translators. As quickly as possible you need to find a niche for yourself; a subject or a service type where you're known as a go-to person. You don't need to offer that niche exclusively, but a professional translator in ES>EN can't hope to compete on price in general subject areas. There are too many eager amateurs out there.


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Andrea Diaz
Mexico
Local time: 01:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
Diversify. Sep 2, 2016

Hi Joshua. Congratulations on getting started. I recommend looking into Mexican translation agencies. They usually value highly native English translators, and offer a fairer rate. Contact them and see if you can get a reasonable deal. Even if you are just getting started, it's more likely that they will consider you since you are a native English speaker.

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Joshua Velasquez
Canada
Local time: 02:31
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all Sep 3, 2016

I just want to thank all for the suggestions

1)I don't want to necessarily limit my client base to Toronto. My thread's title was rather specific because I am curious to know how starting translators in Toronto (Especially Spanish ones) have advanced their career. I am pretty keen on going on a having a diverse and international consumer base, which brings me to #2

2) I have not yet applied to getting certified by Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (At least not yet) because I prefer to get certified by the American Translation Association since it is perhaps a bigger translation association, and could potentially lead me to an even bigger network of Spanish-English clients. I would like the possibility of being a translator for the provincial government. The question would be if I MUST be certified by the ATIO to become one or I could get away with being certified by just the ATA.

3) I'll look into the Mexican translation companies. That sounds like a neat idea!

4) Sheila, you are right. Although I open to medical translation, I am more into legal and financial translation. After all, I have specialized in the latter two in my program. I might as well make that niche for myself within those fields. I currently volunteer in the legal clinic of a Spanish community centre by translating legal documents by the way.


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Paulette Romero  Identity Verified
Colombia
Local time: 01:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
ATA Sep 7, 2016

Just remember that the ATA is PRIVATE organization where you pay dues in order to be a member. In in the USA there is no government body that oversees translators like in other countries. If I'm not mistaken, I believe that Canada does in fact have a government run organization where you would actually be certified by the government of your province or of Canada. In my opinion you should seek the legitimate certification which in this case would be the Canadian one. Of course there is nothing wrong with joining different associations if you just want to join them.

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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:31
Member (2008)
French to English
ATIO Sep 7, 2016

Joshua Velasquez wrote:

I would like the possibility of being a translator for the provincial government. The question would be if I MUST be certified by the ATIO to become one or I could get away with being certified by just the ATA.



I believe that if you want to be a translator for the Ontario government you must be certified by the ATIO.


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Ewa Olszowa  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:31
Polish to English
+ ...
Official vs foreign languages Nov 6, 2016

Keep in mind that there are different requirements for translators translating from/to official languages and for all other so called foreign languages. As for official languages, ATIO certification may be required but for other foreign languages not necessarily.

From my experience most of the local government jobs comes through agencies who get contracts with specific government agencies and to get the order from agency you must just start working with them. I would say, the more qualified/accredited you are, the more orders will be sent to you. Official certification will be beneficial but not mandatory to get work from the agency. I do get a lot of local government jobs through agencies.

As for the federal government, they have Translation Bureau, you can try to get on the list of their translators. This may work as an additional credential for you but not sure if you will get the jobs. I never got one as most of the jobs goes through bids to big translation agencies who try to get certified translators' resumes to their data base to show that they satisfy the requirements to participate in the bid. Not sure where do the jobs go to but I stopped waiting long time ago.



John Fossey wrote:

Joshua Velasquez wrote:

I would like the possibility of being a translator for the provincial government. The question would be if I MUST be certified by the ATIO to become one or I could get away with being certified by just the ATA.



I believe that if you want to be a translator for the Ontario government you must be certified by the ATIO.


[Edited at 2016-11-06 00:33 GMT]


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 01:31
German to English
+ ...
ATIO vs. ATA in Canada Nov 6, 2016

Joshua Velasquez wrote:

2) I have not yet applied to getting certified by Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (At least not yet) because I prefer to get certified by the American Translation Association since it is perhaps a bigger translation association, and could potentially lead me to an even bigger network of Spanish-English clients. I would like the possibility of being a translator for the provincial government. The question would be if I MUST be certified by the ATIO to become one or I could get away with being certified by just the ATA.

That reasoning is faulty, and "bigger" may be meaningless. In Canada many translations hold a prerequisite for certification in the Canadian sense. That is not only for work for the government, but universities, law offices and various companies will also want that kind of certification. Remember that it holds a certain legal status. The ATA does not, and they have to do the extra step of notarization by a notary public where most we do not. I have also had experiences where an agency wanted to pay low rates, but was forced to accept my regular rates because they absolutely had to have a certified translator and couldn't find one for low rates. In recompense, there is the promise of quality which as a certified translator and under the code of ethics you are expected to give.


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