How do I get started as a translator?
Thread poster: Amos Wu
Amos Wu
United States
Local time: 00:37
Apr 11, 2014

I'm a junior in college who recently switched from a business major (I wasn't doing well and didn't feel that I had the motivation to continue on that path) to a Chinese Studies major. I've always had a passion for Chinese history, Chinese language, learning about the development of the Chinese languages over time, studying the modern vernacular and Classical Chinese, etc. I'd usually browse for information on the above topics online and read on them recreationally (often in expense of the projects and assignments I had in business school).

I was wondering about future steps to take from where I am for me to , say, find a job at a translating company. Is it advisable to look for a master's program in translating/interpreting, what certification should one get, how to get experience/internships... just steps to take if one were to become a full scale translator with a language pair in Mandarin and English.

It would be great if you all can relate your personal experience as well! Thanks!

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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:37
English to Polish
+ ...
Here we go :) Apr 11, 2014

Before you get started or when you're new (heck, I'd buy all three and read them before starting if I had to start a new translation career today):

Once you get started or just before:

School costs money but blog is free. Blogs are a wealth of information. I'm currently reading Corinne McKay's.'s own blog keeps a list of other blogs. Some of which are pretty cool. It's really hard to get a better view of a freelance translator's life elsewhere than
a translation blog.

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Dani Karuniawan  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:37
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Experience is important Apr 12, 2014

I get started translation business from serving local market when I was a first-year college student.

Seven years later, I expanded my business to cover national market.

Having sufficient experience with domestic market, I have been pursuing international market.

Good translation is never separated from long experience. So, you should gain/collect as much experience as possible.

Translator at beginner level has been typically characterized by low rate. Do this for first 3-4 years while you gain experience and increase your translation quality. Many translators have stuck at this "low rate" stage for decades, but don't follow them. You can gradually increase your rate and adjust your rate by improved quality and market demand.

[Edited at 2014-04-12 05:40 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-04-12 05:41 GMT]

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:37
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, I agree with many things that were said, Apr 12, 2014

however, a beginner translator does not mean lower rates for complex texts--it may mean less complex texts to translate, sometimes linked to slightly lower rates. I think working in an office that has Chinese clients might help in the beginning--not necessarily as a full-time translator, but perhaps a combination of an assistant and a translator.

A language study program is a great choice for a translator--I think you are going in the right direction.

[Edited at 2014-04-12 10:57 GMT]

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How do I get started as a translator?

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