Want to start translating

by Ryan

Thank you for this website.
I have very good German skills and would like to start translating, as I need a second income. The problem is I have no idea where to start. I would rather have a steady job with a company than start my own freelance business, as I don't have the time or resources to start my own business?
Is there any direction you could point me in? I really would like to start making some money, if only a little.

Thank you,


Comments for Want to start translating

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A Career Using German
by: Joanna

Hello Ryan
Thanks for your question to German Translation Tips & Resources.
Translating German is a good career, and a good translator with the right attitude can make a solid living. If you've got good German skills then you're halfway there. But only halfway....
Translation as an occupation is getting much more professional, and reputable agencies and employers want to work with qualified translators. Many clients/agencies will source freelance translators from amongst online translator communities - where qualifications and experience are there for everyone to read. I had to outsource a job a few weeks ago and was amazed to get at least 20 offers from very well qualified and experienced freelance German translators, all within an hour! This is your competition.
A recent Chartered Institute of Linguists (UK) survey showed that 80% of translators work as freelancers. This reflects the scarcity of in-house positions, rather than everyone's wish to work for themselves. In-house jobs tend to go to qualified translation graduates.
So what I'm suggesting is that, unless you are very niche and German translation is a natural extension to your key services (e.g. you're a relocation agency working with German clients), you can't be a "bit of a translator" and expect to get far. There are agencies out there paying absolute peanuts for translation jobs - roughly around 1/3rd of the going rate - but the likelihood that they have great payment practices or will be around long isn't great. Less hassle and more money waiting tables.
It might be better, perhaps, to see what jobs are being offered by US companies dealing with the German market/German companies with US subsidiaries, where your language skills would be a plus. Ask your nearest German consulate or Embassy (www.germany.info for list of German mission in the US).
I wanted to give you a realistic answer to your query, and so I hope this helps. Don't underestimate the importance of language skills - they're valued by employers.
Let us know how you get on!
Best of luck,

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German to English Translation

Joanna Scudamore-Trezek

I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively.  How can I help you today?

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