Working as a German Freelance Translator in Germany

by Rebecca

Hello Joanna

First off, thank you for and congratulations on your very informative website.

I graduated with a B.A. in German 18 years ago from an American university; since then I have lived in Germany.

For many years I taught English in private schools and also taught a translation course as part of a 3 person teaching team at the Industrie und Handelskammer(German to English transl.) and worked for a German publisher of educational materials).

Now that my daughter is old enough that I would like to get back to work; I am interested in Literary Translation but have no official certification nor examples of work.

My question is: a) do I need to get a qualification, if so what would you suggest based on my history b)if I don't need an official qualification could you suggest some ways to build my CV so that I can actually be considered for inclusion in a translator database (i.e. the German Book Office and the Frankfurter Book Fair).

I am thinking in the directions of workshops and seminars and even translation competitions like from the GBO but there too one needs to send in a CV to be considered. I am 42 and at a bit of a crossroads; I would be so grateful for some mentoring advice from you.

Greetings to you in Austria from Bavaria!


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Definitely consider a translation qualification!
by: Joanna

Dear Rebecca

Thanks for your kind words! Delighted you’ve found useful information on my site.

My advice would be, yes, get a qualification – for your own sense of pride and confidence and to impress title-loving Germans! I would suggest trying for the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) Diploma in Translation from German to English because it’s very extremely convenient and well respected. I’ve provided details here.

It’s what I did when in a similar position to you – living in a German-speaking country and wishing to break into translation.

In terms of work, you may want to reconsider focusing on purely literary translation if you plan to generate any income worth mentioning. Literary translation is not well paid, and you’ll need some very good contacts in the publishing world to get a foothold. I suspect most literary translators start off in universities / teaching / working in a publishing environment. I’m also fairly sure that they have other, additional sources of income.

There are certainly more opportunities in the commercial world and it will be easier to secure several, smaller jobs, than one long book.

My recommendation would be to try in specialise in a field you have experience in - sounds like you’d be well off in the education field. Why not read what a few other professional German translators have to say in the interview section? They should provide a few insights of use to you.

Wishing you the best of luck – let us know how you get on!


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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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