Many colleagues have already dedicated a great deal of their time to sharing their advice, knowledge and experience about the sector to both new and seasoned translators, so when I was approached for some advice, I didn’t feel I had anything specific to add. The aim of this page, therefore, is just to help point translators in a few directions that may be useful at the beginning of their career (although more experienced colleagues may find some of the information below of interest too, especially for CPD purposes).
As this page continues to grow, I have started to place some information sections on separate pages. Please see Books on Translation and Interpreting for links to books that may be of interest (and also to reviews of some of these books on this and other blogs) and Articles of Special Interest to New Translators for a list of blog posts that I feel newcomers to the profession might benefit from reading.
Last updated April 2020
If you studied translation at university, you may not have much business knowledge. These courses could help give you some ideas and a headstart.
The course focuses on translation skills, software and business basics. In Russian and English. It is provided by the Alba Longa Translation Company.
A course run by Tess Whitty given in two tracks, beginner and experienced, for translators everywhere. The course helps students with their marketing plan and strategies to target agencies and direct clients.
Corinne McKay regularly runs online courses focusing on the business side of translation. Past courses have included: Beyond the Basics of Freelancing for established translators seeking to improve and expand their business (for an idea of what to expect from this course, please read Elizabeth Garrison’s review on this blog); Breaking into the Book Translation Market focusing on the business aspects of book translation for translators wishing to translate fiction and non-fiction books; Getting Started as a Freelance Translator run as a coaching-group format with 20 daily assignments; Marketing to Direct Clients focusing on developing a plan and tool kit for marketing to direct clients; Organization and Productivity.
Free online course in five parts on Leon Hunter’s blog. This introduction to the translation market focuses on working in Spain and is only available in Spanish.
Ecourse written by Ron McCoy, the director of Affinity Translation. The first lesson, Differentiate or Die, is free. Learn how to stand out from the crowd and land more projects and earn more as a result.
This is a course on Udemy created by Robert Gebhardt. Its aim is to teach students how to use translation to earn a living.
14-lesson audio course by Paul Urwin. Also includes some files with additional resources.
Short four-part online course provided by Jonathan Downie comprising videos, audios and PDFs. Interpreters and translators can often be called upon to talk about their profession in public and the experience can often prove quite daunting. This course will help you deliver better and more interesting presentations.
Online course run by the ITI over eight weeks designed specifically for graduates or new entrants into the profession. Eight different tutors (all practising translators) are on hand to give valuable advice.
This website, run by Jenae Spry, focuses on three key areas: getting work, getting organised and getting productive. For a monthly fee you get access to the full website of webinars, videos, downloads, a group coaching session on Fridays and more.
If you don’t have the time, the money or the inclination to follow a longer course but would still like some advice, then attending a webinar may be the perfect option. They are also great for CPD (Continuing Professional Development), which some associations require or recommend you clock up to continue your membership.
ATA the link takes you to a list of upcoming and on-demand webinars hosted by the American Translators Association.
Webinar channel for freelance translators run by Sherif Abuzid and Tanya Quintieri. Free advice for translators. Watch live or catch up with the recording.
They offer a variety of live and on-demand webinars with sections covering a wide range of subjects, including audio-visual and website localisation, creative and literary translation, financial, legal and medical translation, style, techniques and revision.
A free webinar is also available called Flying High with eCPD targeted especially at new translators.
They offer online courses and webinars for interpreters and translators in a number of languages.
Free webinars on this popular CAT tool. Attend one live by booking your virtual seat or choose one of the recorded webinars from their extensive list.
The education section of ProZ.com has online training courses, webinars and a knowledgebase.
Podcasts and YouTube Channels
Paul Urwin gives advice and interviews some of the best known members of the translation profession for his podcasts.
Host Matt Baird interviews people so you can learn more about how the ATA works.
Podcast in Spanish hosted by Paola and Marina. They focus on current issues in the translation industry and interview successful translators and interpreters to get their tips.
Hosted by the French Division of the ATA. The podcast focuses on French-English translation.
YouTube channel run by Robert Gebhardt.
Hosted by Renato Beninatto and Michael Stevens.
Tess Whitty has interviewed established translators to discover their marketing secrets.
by Corinne McKay and Eve Bodeux
Caroline Alberoni interviews a variety of colleagues on camera in Portuguese.
YouTube channel run by Nancy Matis.
A podcast hosted by the ZingWord team.
Dmitry Kornyukhov and Elena Tereshchenkova interview colleagues live about various aspects of our profession on Wednesdays. If you can’t make the live session, you can listen to the audio (the link above takes you to the list of previous podcasts so you can enjoy them at your leisure) or watch the videos on YouTube.
Else Gellinek has listed some other podcasts that colleagues may find of interest in her blog post: Show and Tell: Podcasts to Listen to.
How many profiles does one need on the Internet? As long as they are different, add value and help you get found, then probably quite a few. This one might seem superfluous, but as I’ve been contacted by end clients via my page I’ll be keeping mine.
The business school was run for many years as a course by Marta Stelmaszak (Want Words). Now you can access all the lessons for free on her website.
The ETN is a UK forum and support network for early-career literary translators working mainly into English. They run an email-discussion group. It’s free to join but you must meet certain requirements.
Yes, Facebook is a work tool as well. Besides the option of having a page for your business, there are a number of different groups you can join to connect with colleagues and ask for advice, help with technical issues (CAT tools, Dragon Naturally Speaking, etc.) and generally chat about our profession. Some are closed groups, so you’ll have to prove you are a professional translator/interpreter to join. Erik Hansson has compiled a comprehensive list of groups for linguists, published on Lingua Greca’s blog. You can also read my post Why you might regret not being on Facebook and Claire Cox’s excellent article on social media for some more ideas.
Unfortunately, Google+ was never really successful and rumour has it that it is going to be phased out and split into different areas (for photos and video streams, this has already happened). I don’t recommend you spend much time on this platform due to its uncertain future, although sharing articles on the platform might help gain you some visibility.
Not long ago many if not most translators were wondering what LinkedIn could offer. In my opinion, however, it’s a great showcase for a modern version of your CV. Besides the possibility of connecting with colleagues (I often visit LinkedIn if a client needs a service I cannot provide as I like the easy-to-read format and ability to message someone as soon as I think I’ve identified a translator with the correct skill set), there are now loads of translation-related groups you can join.
If you don’t have a blog (or even if you do), LinkedIn now allows you to post articles to boost your profile. Asking your connections (if you have done work for them) for recommendations, which are then displayed on your page, will also help persuade potential clients that you might be the right translator for their job. But please use the endorsement feature with caution (I’m not a fan and you can read why here).
I have written a miniseries on LinkedIn with some tips on how to improve your profile. The first instalment is Photos and Headlines.
Unfortunately, a lot of translation work is offered at appalling rates. Then there’s crowdsourcing and MT (machine translation) to contend with as well. I would encourage you to browse through this site and realise that you don’t need to work for next to nothing to get your foot in the sector door.
Data on the payment practices of agencies and other translation clients. Charge applies.
The largest translation portal of them all. Paying for membership is not obligatory and a lot of the resources this site offers are available free of charge. This is a good place to have a profile because many end clients and agencies go there to look for translators and/or post job offers. Other important sections are: KudoZ, where you can ask for help with tricky terms; the Blueboard, which contains colleagues’ ratings of agencies they have worked for; the education section mentioned above; terminology resources, including the dictionary and reference board, which I help moderate, and GlossPost, which is a database of online glossaries. ProZ.com also holds virtual conferences every year, as well as one international and several regional conferences. Members also organise get-togethers called powwows.
ATA’s blog for newbies to translating and interpreting.
This website, run by Nancy Matis, collates several stand-out articles and posts into different categories.
Translation Commons is a nonprofit US Public Charity whose aims are to share knowledge, provide free tools and resources and promote community initiatives. There are three main sections: Translate, Share and Learn. You need to register to access the content.
Free blacklist of agencies, scammers, non-payers and low payers.
The second largest translation portal. Paying for membership is not obligatory and a lot of the resources this site offers are available free of charge. This is another good place to have a profile because end clients and agencies post job offers and/or contact translators directly. Like ProZ.com, this site also has a terminology section where you can ask questions.
I must admit I still find it hard to believe just how many people try to scam translators, but as this site says: “They steal your CV, your work and your money”. If a job offer sounds a bit weird and alarm bells start ringing, even if only distantly, then it’s probably best to steer clear or at the very least double check before accepting.
This is a blog founded by Chiara Grassilli that now accepts contributions from others in the translation business. Especially useful for newcomers is the Getting Started section, although the rest of the site is well worth dipping into as well (interviews, books, tips on how to create a website, translation techniques, etc.). However, I do not endorse the site’s recommendation to use low-paying freelance websites to gain experience in our profession.
Loads of translators are on Twitter, and although the site doesn’t appeal to everyone, I would encourage you to give it a go. It’s a great way of meeting colleagues virtually, finding links to interesting blog posts, hearing about translation events, etc. I produced this page because a newly-graduated translator asked me for advice via the direct message service on Twitter.
Most conferences are also covered by Twitter obsessives (including yours truly), so you can even follow sessions being held hundreds or thousands of miles away in real-time without leaving the comfort of your own chair.
Please see my post ‘Everything (!) you’ve always wanted to know about Twitter’ for more information (and read the comments too, as they contain lots of useful advice as well).
Having a profile on this site is really not necessary, but it’s quite good fun to fiddle with and there are a few different infographic options available. This is what mine looks like.
There are many regional, national and international translation associations which can provide you with all sorts of advice as well as professional qualifications in some instances (see next section below). They also often run workshops and hold conferences. Meeting colleagues in person is the best way to network, learn about our profession and further your business. I have mentioned a few below, but for a more complete list please see this detailed and comprehensive list produced by Inbox Translation, this lexicool.com page or this page of associations, organisations and universities produced by Proz.com.
Asociación Española de Traductores, Correctores e Intérpretes
American Translators Association. The ATA has an extremely useful Business Practices page with information on getting started in translation, taking care of business and tools and resources.
Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer
Chartered Institute of Linguists (UK)
Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council
International Federation of Translators
International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters
Institute of Translating and Interpreting (UK)
Mediterranean Editors & Translators
The Translators Association of the The Society of Authors
As mentioned in the section above, some associations hold exams so that you can attain a professional qualification.
The CIOL offers four: the diploma in translation (DipTrans), the diploma in public service interpreting, the diploma in police interpreting and the certificate of bilingual skills. The DipTrans is notoriously difficult to pass and it is also a handwritten exam, unless you take it at a centre where computers are allowed. For more information, please see these blog posts: ‘The Diploma in Translation. What is it? Why do I Want it?’ and ‘How I Passed the DipTrans: Top Five Tips’ by Lucy Williams (both on this blog); ‘DipTrans and MITI exams: side by side’ by Emma Goldsmith; ‘DipTrans: the real costs and returns’ by Gwenydd Jones (on this blog).
To gain the ATA certification you also need to pass an exam held at set times and places (for example, at the ATA annual conference). Sittings are also sometimes scheduled in Europe to coincide with conferences. The exam is usually handwritten, although a few keyboarded sessions are available each year.
Unlike the CIOL and ATA exams, you can sit the ITI examination in your own office space using all the resources you would normally count on to complete your work assignments. For more information, please see Emma Goldsmith’s blog post above and: ‘Becoming a Qualified Member of the ITI’ by Rose Newell.
Please read this guest post on Lingua Greca’s blog written by Textualis, a Montreal-based translation company, if you are interested in becoming a certified translator in Canada.
Whilst waiting to gain a qualification, there are other things you can do to raise your profile. Veronica Sardon explains a few in her post ‘Informal Credentials’.
Even if you have studied languages and/or translation at university, you will probably need some extra tuition and practice if you would like to take an exam to become a qualified member of one of the above-mentioned associations. This section also includes other courses translators can take to improve their skills. Please see the MA Courses page if you are interested in doing a master’s degree. If you’re finding it hard to decide whether you should study an MA or take the DipTrans exam, you might find it useful to read about Gwenydd Jones’s experience of taking the Diploma and two MA in translation courses.
The course focuses on translation skills, as well as software knowledge and business basics. In Russian and English. It is provided by the Alba Longa Translation Company.
Online courses for translators in Spanish. The offering includes banking, financial, patent, pharmaceutical and medical translation and more practical topics, such as learning to use CAT tools. Most translation courses are es-en, although one on renewable energies is de-es and one on audiovisual translation is fr-es.
The BCLT is part of the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. It organises a summer school.
A wide variety of courses on translation, proofreading/editing, localisation, grammar, spelling, writing and much more in Spanish. Both online and classroom-based programmes are offered.
Cardiff University offers online translation courses in Spanish and French to English to prepare for the CIOL DipTrans. This university is also an examination centre for the DipTrans.
Centre for Translation Studies at the UCL (University College London). It offers online courses (for example, cloud-based translation tools, localisation and subtitling), a variety of one day professional courses (interpreting, subtitling, dubbing, Trados Studio, memoQ, transcreation, etc.) and some summer courses.
Distance-learning course in literary translation provided by the Centre Européen de Traduction Littéraire, based in Belgium.
Based in France, the Centre de Formation Professionnelle et Continue offers distance-learning courses in translation (English into French and Spanish, Spanish into French, and French into German and English), revision (English into French), CAT tools (SDLTrados, Wordfast), legal translation and technical writing. Please see Andrea McGibney’s guest post for a review of the French to English course.
Besides a number of business-related courses, which you’ll find more information about in the first section, Corinne McKay also runs some courses focusing on translation skills in collaboration with other translators. Past courses have included: English to Spanish Legal Translation and Translation Workshop: German to English.
Online course to prepare for the CIOL DipTrans exam. For a small fee they will evaluate your level to ensure you should proceed with the course and the exam before parting with your money.
Based in Madrid, Estudio Sampere is an examination centre for the Diploma in Translation and also offers an online course to help you prepare for this exam (English-Spanish). Other online courses include specialised translation (English-Spanish and French-Spanish), legal translation, technical translation and literary translation.
Online English & Spanish subtitling courses. Four courses are available with an offline tutor and students’ forum. The modules include learning how to use the subtitling software EZTitles. GOSUB also host webinars.
A variety of courses on French and Spanish law and legal translation into French and Spanish. The trainers are Lucie Davioud, Ruth Gámez and Fernando Cuñado.
Online learning courses provided by the e-learning branch of the translation and interpreting agency Talking Heads. The courses include: DPSI (Diploma in Public Service Interpreting), law or health pathway; DipTrans (Diploma in Translation); FCI (Foundation Certificate in Interpreting); and FCT (Foundation Certificate in Translation).
Lingvajet provides short-term courses on SDL Trados and other CAT tools, terminology management, AutoCAD, memory training for interpreters, translating for oil & gas industries, editing and proofreading, and more.
Distance-learning course to prepare for the CIOL DipTrans exam.
This is a distance-learning course provided by Pompeu Fabra University.
Online course run by TAUS and the Localization Institute. It provides training on quality management and focuses on the Dynamic Quality Framework (DQF).
Online training for and by translators in Spanish. The courses include audiovisual translation, web design and productivity.
A variety of online courses for translators and interpreters in Spanish.
A team of expert translators will help you improve your translation skills through individual feedback. Eight-week online course.
Distance courses to prepare for the CIOL DipTrans exam. Founded by Susanne James Associates in 1996. Translator Training also offers introductory courses for people with little or no translation experience wishing to enter the profession. This course can be followed by their Improver’s and Follow-Up courses. You can read a review of this course by Joanna Scudamore-Trezek on her blog.
Spanish to English only. Tutored by Gwenydd Jones. The course includes 10 marked assessments, detailed feedback and two 30-min Skype tutorials.
Spanish/English translation and interpreting courses are provided, including the Professional Certificate in Translation and Interpretation.
Classroom-based course to prepare for the CIOL DipTrans exam.
Learn how to translate and localise websites to specialise as a website translator or localisation project manager. The trainer is Dorota Pawlak.
WLS offer two translation courses. The first is to gain a certificate based on translating a variety of texts. And the second is preparation for the CIOL Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) exam. They are both distance-learning courses that you can start at any time. The language combinations you can study are: en<>de; en<>es; en<>fr; en<>it; and en<>pe.
Copywriting, Writing, Proofreading and Editing Courses
If you want to specialise in translating tourism, leisure, sport and other more creative texts (fashion, food and drink, newspaper articles, etc.), then it might be a good idea to brush up on your writing skills by taking a writing or copywriting course.
Similarly, if you think that you’d like to spend some of your working time revising others’ translations or editing texts written by non-native speakers for publication in journals, then studying copy-editing and proofreading courses can help you spot more errors and learn the right way to go about correcting documents.
Courses on journalism, editing and publishing (including travel, sports, copyediting and proofreading).
A wide variety of writing, editing and proofreading online courses are on offer, including copywriting, journalism, SEO, webwriting and NCTJ diploma courses (journalism, subediting, etc.).
This website provides online courses for art professionals, including one on creative forms of art criticism and writing. Courses are also available in Spanish.
The online courses on offer include writing for academic publication and business writing.
The PTC offers short courses on core publishing skills (including copy-editing, proofreading and editing scientific, technical and medical texts) held at venues in London, online self-study courses (proofreading, editing and grammar, among others) and in-company training.
The SfEP provide workshops, online courses and in-house courses on copy-editing, proofreading, editing and grammar, among others.
UniCo provides its members with online and classroom-based training and specialisation courses in Spanish.
A number of talented translators and interpreters have shared their experience to help colleagues, and the list of books is growing fast, so fast, in fact, that I have been forced to start a separate page for them (Books on Translation and Interpreting) as the list was getting over long to include on this page. Both new and not-so-new translators should find them useful.
Blogging seems to have become one of translators’ favourite pastimes (and I’m no exception!) and you can discover a great deal of useful information from reading them. I recommend you subscribe by email to those you are interested in or use an RSS feeder. Please see my blogroll for some suggestions.
A couple of blogs that might be especially of interest for newcomers to the profession as they contain lots of sound advice are Translation Times by the twins Judy and Dagmar Jenner and Thoughts on Translation by Corinne McKay.
A number of blog posts and articles are of special interest to newcomers as they contain some excellent advice. I have listed some on a separate page: Articles of Special Interest to New Translators.
Sherif Abuzid provides coaching in marketing and websites for translators. He studied an MA in marketing and can help translators use their websites to generate leads for their business.
Valeria Aliperta can provide you with advice on branding, your website and your social media presence in general. She is based in the UK.
Christelle Maignan provides coaching for translators on a one-to-one basis or as part of a group following an online course called Developing a Success Mindset. For her explanation on the differences between coaching, mentoring and consulting, please read this post.
Nancy Matis offers online consulting services, primarily for issues relating to project and business management. She is based in Belgium.
Corinne McKay offers consulting services for translators. She is based in the US.
Jenae Spry provides some group coaching every Friday as part of her Success by Rx system. She is based in the US.
Tess Whitty, based in the US, offers help with marketing, websites, CVs and covering letters.
Health and Safety
Sitting on the sofa or at the dining-room table are not recommended. Even though you work at home you need a proper desk and chair. But there’s a lot more to occupational health and safety than where you sit. And it is even advisable these days to stand up for part of your day, or go that extra step and use a treadmill desk. Some colleagues and I have written some posts about our experience with stand-up desks, which you’ll find on the Work-Life Balance page on this blog. Besides the articles below, you’ll find more in the final category at the bottom of the Articles of Special Interest to New Translators page
‘Make proofreading less painful – literally’ by Carolyn Yohn
These days many translators use CAT (Computer-Aided or -Assisted Translation) tools and some agencies and end clients not only require you to use one, but also specify which one as well. For many years I used Wordfast Classic (there are other Wordfast versions available), whose TMs (Translation Memories) are compatible with Trados, which, judging by what you read in forums and job adverts, is the market leader. It’s also not cheap.
I switched to using memoQ in the summer of 2017 because I was having problems with Wordfast and have met many memoQ users who rave about its features and functionalities. It is also becoming increasingly popular with both freelancers and agencies. Kilgray offer free memoQ webinars to help you get to grips with the tool. I have also written a miniseries for non-tech savvy users of memoQ.
Other CATs are OmegaT, which is free, and Déjà Vu. There are also cloud-based CATs, such as MateCat, Lilt, Memsource and SmartCAT. The latter has provided a series of videos to help translators get to grips with the tool.
Please see the Software Comparison Tool on Proz.com for a more complete list of CATs with details of their features, ratings and reviews.
You might find it useful to read the following posts on CATs: Percy Balemans’ article ‘The usefulness of CAT tools’; Claire Cox’s comparison of ‘Wordfast Classic and Trados Studio 2014′; Emma Goldsmith’s comparisons of SDL Trados Studio and Déjà Vu, and SDL Trados Studio and memoQ. Emma regularly writes about CAT tools, so please check her blog for more articles of interest. Francesco Pugliano has also compared CAT tools in easy-to-understand tables. Lastly, Simon Akhrameev has reviewed the free online MateCat tool.
For more articles on CAT tools, please see the section on them on the Articles of Special Interest to New Translators page.
Typing all day can be a hard slog, and it’s not very good for your posture and can lead to RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury, which I’ve suffered from on occasion, and it’s not pleasant). DNS will type everything you say allowing you to stand up, walk around and have a bit of a rest. Users also say it speeds up the translation process and can even improve style and flow.
You can read more about this tool in Claire Cox’s blog post ‘Taming the Dragon’ and Kevin Hendzel’s post ‘Professional-Quality Translation at Light Speed’. My post ‘Bite-sized Tips No. 20: Watch out for the Dragon’ highlights some of the points we need to include in our revision process after dictating our work.
Please click on the above link for more details about machine translation (MT). You’ll find a short list of some MT apps on the Useful Links page. Please note that most confidentiality agreements will prohibit the use of online translation tools.
This page is a work in progress and will be constantly improved, expanded and updated, so please come back another time. If you have any comments or recommendations, please contact me.
Explore this blog by starting with the categories page.