How to go from an amateur translator to a professional translator

How to go from an amateur translator to a professional translator

A Translator’s Tale

Once Upon a Time…

…there were translators. But they were translation students or amateur translators. We’re sure you’re familiar with that feeling of not being good enough and fearing that you won’t find work.

Many of us are told during our studies that the world of translation is difficult and cold. Some professors even say that we’d be better off becoming language teachers or finding other work because it is impossible to make ends meet working as a translators.

This mix of pessimism and closing doors makes amateur translators feel lost and helpless. However, opportunities exist and once you find one, you will discover that the world of translation is very rewarding­. You will find wonderful colleagues who will share your interests. You’ll realize how cool it is to always keep learning through the texts you translate.

This is something they don’t teach you during your translation degree.

Decisions of Translators

The biggest, scariest question for amateur translators or for translators who just finished a degree (or master’s degree) is “so what now?”

Let’s walk in an amateur translator’s shoes for a moment. You finish your degree knowing that there are much more experienced translators than you in the labour market. Two things can happen at this point: you are determined to thrive as a professional translator from the very beginning, or you keep studying to gain more experience.

Many translation students decide to complete a master’s degree, which gives them one or two more (safe) years to make up their minds on what they want to do in the future. Nonetheless, the master’s degree comes to an end and the question strikes back: “so what now?”

This can cause distress and discouragement, but no one ever told us it was easy, so we keep going and we make up our minds. We go from amateur translators to professional translators.

The Translators’ Struggle

You have very little (or non-existent) experience, there are millions of people who speak the same language as you, and there are translators with much more experience. Scary, isn’t it? How are you going to survive in this dog-eat-dog world?

Well, you manage to find your first clients, you do your best and feel great, and you are a professional. However, be careful. Many translators do not take care of their professional relationships and their business sinks.

Here’s a piece of advice. Always take care of your professional relationships, both with clients and with fellow translators. Avoid unfair competition. Offer competitive but fair prices.

That way, friendships forge and as a result, many work opportunities arise. You discover that after all, it was not as bad as they said, you find amazing people along the way and you keep on expanding your knowledge each day. You feel blessed and you become hooked on translation.

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