If you have recently graduated in language translation you may be wondering how to find work, particularly if you are planning to work on a freelance basis, ideally remotely to give you the opportunity to travel. This article is a collaboration with Day Translations.
Working and Travelling as a Freelance Translator
Language translation is one of those services that are an ideal choice for digital nomads as they can be easily delivered remotely. Language translation is a highly competitive industry with many time pressures and the constant need to keep one’s skills up to date.
Languages evolve and a translator needs to be aware of any new terms, colloquial expressions, trending words and fashionable terms. This may require for a translator to travel frequently, check the news in the chosen language pair on a regular basis and, ideally, listen to podcasts and other types of broadcast content including television and streaming services.
Finding Freelance Translation Work
Working with translation agencies can be a good starting point to build one’s CV, however it is absolutely essential to check their rates of pay upfront before applying for jobs. Choose reputable agencies with plenty of positive reviews and customer testimonials. Some translation agencies out there are simply content farms and their projects may be repetitive, boring or outside of one’s area of specialisation.
If money is an issue, sometimes it is better to get some stable income from a different gig (you name it, it could be anything from remote assistant to even working at a local shop). The work of translators is very valuable because, no matter how sophisticated machine learning can become, it could never fully replace the work of a human translator.
When you graduate in language translation you may not have any idea about how to start looking for work. In a perfect world, as soon as you graduate you simply land a job or offers for freelance work land on your lap. However, in the real world the real work starts after graduating. Networking and having a good online profile and CV are vital to make a solid start as a translator.
Go to your LinkedIn profile and add all the courses, training and qualifications you have obtained. If you are doing any volunteering work, add that to your online profile. Volunteering can be a useful entry point for steady work in translation but you need to be strategic when selecting which charity or oganisation you want to allocate your time with. Time is a precious commodity and only because you volunteer, ie, you work for free, it does not mean that you should be taken for granted. You are bringing valuable knowledge to the table, as well as your interpersonal skills and the experience you have gained at University dealing with people from different backgrounds.
Hitting the Ground Running Straight After University
Specialising in an area of translation early on can make a huge different to jump-start a career as a freelance translator. It may take some research and completing a few translation projects first to identify which industry sector to specialise in – it can be gaming, programming, literature, arts, motoring, fashion – the list goes on. In practical terms, the career of a translator is the culmination of meeting your interests with your technical skills. This makes you more marketeable in the workplace: for example, you may enjoy gaming and you may hear that a company requires translating their videogames into a language you have studied or speak at mother tongue level. Part of your job as a freelance translator is to also proactively look for opportunities and this can take the form of attending trade shows for instance.
The more specialised you are, the more likely it will be for clients to approach you directly.
It is also essential to research the rates of pay for translations in your chosen language pair and it is vital for you to charge at the right level to avoid exploitation.
Remember that the job of a translator involves continuous learning, so the learning doesn’t stop after you graduate. Getting additional training is part of the job so you need to allocate that expense to your activity as part of your budget.
Finally, the good news is that Google Translate is quite rubbish at translating! This means that there will always be the need for high quality human translations.