The Linguist

The Linguist 53,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 35

16 The Linguist DECEMBER 2014/JANUARY 2015 FEATURES Are translators prepared for the business realities of the freelance market, asks Karen Stokes In July 2014, the CIOL joined forces with the EC Representation in the UK and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) to run an event on 'Future-Proofing the Profession: Equipping the next generation of translators'. 1 It asked: • Are translators being trained to meet the future expectations of work providers and users of translation services? • Are they equipped with the skills they need to deal intelligently with technological change? • What part can academic institutions, professional bodies and international organisations play in preparing new and current practitioners for the challenges facing the profession? The follow-up survey of students, translators, academics and translation industry professionals asked respondents to rate translators' readiness for the future in areas such as business, technological, research and interpersonal skills. 2 The results for business skills showed that just 15.6% of respondents felt translators were 'well equipped' and only 2.6% felt they were 'very well equipped'. Conversely, almost half (45.6%) felt translators were 'not at all' or 'not very' well equipped in terms of business expertise. Anecdotal evidence from translator forums, current students and attendees at the CIOL's Working Successfully as a Freelance Translator workshops backs up these findings and suggests that, while many feel well prepared in terms of translation skills, they lack confidence in the practicalities of owning a small business. Questions asked cover everything from terms and conditions, pricing, invoicing and credit control to identifying reliable clients, marketing, website design and networking – all too often prefaced by, 'I know this is a silly question, but…'. Arguably, with the vast majority 3 of translators and interpreters now working for themselves, there is no such thing as a silly question about running a business. On course? Why do new translators appear to feel so unprepared? A survey of 30 online course descriptions of general and specialist MA and MSc programmes in Translation, Translation/ Interpreting and Translation Studies in the UK, 4 including both European Master's in Translation (EMT) and non-EMT courses, may provide part of the answer. More than half stated that the course included a professional or business skills module, with titles such as 'Translation in a Professional Context', 'Developing Professionalism' and 'Professional Aspects of Translation'. The format of the modules differed, including both work placements and simulated project management and/or translation commissioning exercises. Content also varied widely, from analyses of the students' existing skills to quality control, Into the dragon's den Following a career as a social worker, Elizabeth Guyatt ACIL did the Diploma in Translation and started working as a freelance translator in November 2013. "I had some basic awareness of things like expenses and registering as self-employed from friends who had done the same thing, but I don't remember any specific information about business from my translation course. I didn't think about marketing and pricing at all until I did a series of four workshops, 'Working Successfully as a Freelance Translator', at the CIOL. Those have been very useful. I've concentrated on CPD [continuing professional development] this year. In terms of marketing, I wanted to get what I did do right. I was very new to social media, so I started with LinkedIn, which was my substitute for a website at first. Then I set up a website with Wordpress: initially I thought I needed something complex, so when Jack Sellen [of the CIOL] said it can just be like an electronic business card, it really helped. I spent a lot of time thinking about branding and a business name; then I ended up with Elizabeth Guyatt Translations. I got a lot of useful information about setting up a business bank account from TransNet – I've picked up a lot there. For me, the most difficult thing is pricing. I've talked to other translators and been advised to market myself as 'premium'." STARTING OUT Is it fair to expect institutions to turn out competent translators who are also fully fledged entrepreneurs?

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 53,6