Any advice for a newbie? (FR & ES > EN translator)
Thread poster: Mark Harris

Mark Harris
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (Jul 2019)
French to English
+ ...
Jul 21

Hello all,

I am hoping to get some advice from all of you experienced translators out there. I have recently finished my BA degree in French and Spanish and am very keen to get stuck into a career in freelance translation. I already have 2 years' experience working with a translation agency in Barcelona who began to send me work after I did a 6 month internship there, but that one client is obviously not sufficient as a full-time income, plus I only get work translating from Spanish
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Hello all,

I am hoping to get some advice from all of you experienced translators out there. I have recently finished my BA degree in French and Spanish and am very keen to get stuck into a career in freelance translation. I already have 2 years' experience working with a translation agency in Barcelona who began to send me work after I did a 6 month internship there, but that one client is obviously not sufficient as a full-time income, plus I only get work translating from Spanish and I am keen to get work translating from French as well.

I have a lot of passion for languages in general and translation specifically, and I am gradually building up my experience through working with this agency and through volunteer work with Translators Without Borders, but I would really appreciate some advice as to what else I could do to help my career take off. One concern I have is that I don't really have any particular specialist field, although I did work for many years within the paper/printing industry. Some questions I have in my head:

Am I fighting an uphill battle trying to establish a career in translation with such common languages and no particular specialist fields?

What are the common ways of developing specialist fields? Does this just happen naturally for most translators, or is it usually as a result of already having significant experience within a particular industry?

Is it worth doing a masters in translation, or any further translation-related qualifications? I have just finished my BA at the age of 35, so am keen to start working but would consider further education if it will really help my career. What I don't want to do though is spend a lot more money (a LOT in the UK) on more education that won't actually help me progress in the translation industry.

Any advice would be hugely appreciated!

Mark
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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:25
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Hello and welcome Jul 21

Welcome Mark. I see from your CV that you worked in sales and accounts so maybe these, together with technical and engineering can be considered for specialist areas. Besides language competence, a translator needs knowledge of some specialist area and not all translators find their specialist areas in the same way. Most choose an area they used to work in while others choose an area - or it chooses them - when they start translating some special field, like it and so get to know that particular... See more
Welcome Mark. I see from your CV that you worked in sales and accounts so maybe these, together with technical and engineering can be considered for specialist areas. Besides language competence, a translator needs knowledge of some specialist area and not all translators find their specialist areas in the same way. Most choose an area they used to work in while others choose an area - or it chooses them - when they start translating some special field, like it and so get to know that particular area besides studying it at greater depth after. If anything, I would suggest furthering your knowledge of some area you worked in and liked rather than a translation qualification since you already have qualifications in languages. I would suggest some certificate course to get to know the theory and get some translation practice rather than a Masters unless you yourself can learn the theory on your own. Good luck.Collapse


IanDhu
Christine Andersen
Teresa Borges
 

Mark Harris
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (Jul 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks for the reply Jul 21

I do have a lot of experience in sales, particularly within the paper and printing industry, so perhaps that is an avenue I could look into. I have also done some technical translations involving nuclear security, industrial production etc., which I found quite interesting. As such, I suppose I could delve further into these directions to gain a more comprehensive understanding and be able to specialise.

I appreciate your advice on qualifications. What worried me I suppose, from loo
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I do have a lot of experience in sales, particularly within the paper and printing industry, so perhaps that is an avenue I could look into. I have also done some technical translations involving nuclear security, industrial production etc., which I found quite interesting. As such, I suppose I could delve further into these directions to gain a more comprehensive understanding and be able to specialise.

I appreciate your advice on qualifications. What worried me I suppose, from looking at other translators' CVs, was that a lot of people seem to have a masters in translation, or at least qualifications specific to translation, rather than just languages in general. I suppose I can gauge how much work I can get based on my current experience/qualifications and judge later whether further education would be helpful. When you say a certificate course are you referring to the DipTrans? Would you say that is more beneficial than a masters?
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IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:25
Member (2005)
French to English


Posted via
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In-service training Jul 21

National translators' associations offer short courses and seminars to develop translators' skills in a variety of subject areas. In my experience, the training is hands-on and provided by high-calibre specialists, and is thus relevant to translators' concerns. They entail less time commitment than intra-mural studies.

The associations I know about are the Société Française des Traducteurs (France) and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (UK), both of which have a webs
... See more
National translators' associations offer short courses and seminars to develop translators' skills in a variety of subject areas. In my experience, the training is hands-on and provided by high-calibre specialists, and is thus relevant to translators' concerns. They entail less time commitment than intra-mural studies.

The associations I know about are the Société Française des Traducteurs (France) and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (UK), both of which have a website.

I hope this helps.
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Nchouwat Adamou
 

Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Some thoughts Jul 21

Hello Mark,

I think you may be underestimating the value of nine years working in the paper industry. Many, many translators start their translation careers straight out of uni with no significant experience of any other field. Your background could definitely be a selling point and form the basis for a specialisation.

What I notice when I look at your profile is that it's pretty much empty apart from a link to a CV, and you don't seem to have any other online presence
... See more
Hello Mark,

I think you may be underestimating the value of nine years working in the paper industry. Many, many translators start their translation careers straight out of uni with no significant experience of any other field. Your background could definitely be a selling point and form the basis for a specialisation.

What I notice when I look at your profile is that it's pretty much empty apart from a link to a CV, and you don't seem to have any other online presence either. So, how are you marketing yourself? Translation is a competitive field - you need to do better than this. A CV alone is not enough.

Have you considered doing the ITI's Setting Up as a Freelance Translator course? It may help you work out your next steps. I'd recommend ITI membership too, and getting out to some translator get-togethers to meet other translators.

Good luck!

Rachel
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Josephine Cassar
Christine Andersen
Teresa Borges
 

Alex Kalani
United States
Local time: 07:25
Arabic to English
+ ...
Be certified at any cost. Jul 21

Beside being certified, court and medical specialties is a good start. Develop consecutive interpretation using native language pairings with one or two languages. Good luck.

Alex

Testing and development specialist.


 

Mark Harris
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (Jul 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Jul 22

Thank you all for taking the time to reply and offer me some valuable advice.

Rachel - I will certainly consider the avenue of paper/printing being a specialisation for me. I suppose I wondered whether it was too narrow or niche, but it is a very large industry. I am very new to translation, having just finished my degree a few months ago, so I haven't gotten around to expanding on my profile yet. You are right though, and I will make that a priority so I can market myself better.... See more
Thank you all for taking the time to reply and offer me some valuable advice.

Rachel - I will certainly consider the avenue of paper/printing being a specialisation for me. I suppose I wondered whether it was too narrow or niche, but it is a very large industry. I am very new to translation, having just finished my degree a few months ago, so I haven't gotten around to expanding on my profile yet. You are right though, and I will make that a priority so I can market myself better.

Just one more query if you don't mind: where do I find out about translator get-togethers? Do I have to be a member of an organisation to attend them? It would be great to make some contacts and meet other people in the industry.
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Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Get-togethers Jul 22

Hi again,

Your profile says you are in Bristol, so the ITI's Western Regional Group might be your nearest contact for translator get-togethers (https://www.itiwrg.org.uk/). I don't know if you can attend without being a member, but I suspect you would have to join ITI as an Afiliate (all the info is on the ITI website).

Rachel


 


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