Friday, January 20, 2012

Does anyone know if studying to become a French to English translator is a wise idea?

I live in Montreal, Quebec.

I'm wondering what the demand is like/how rewarding translation is etc.

Thank you!Does anyone know if studying to become a French to English translator is a wise idea?
Quite good, as long as you can translate "J'aime tes fesses".
I do not think there is much demand for translators. I worked in a school that taught ESL/EFL and we rarely had requests for translation. However, you could apply your translation skills to education, as Canada currently has a major shortage of qualified French teachers.Does anyone know if studying to become a French to English translator is a wise idea?
A friend of mine does that for her career. She finds it rewarding because she translates documents and what not so Americans can adopt children from French-speaking countries.
Normally not, but you live in French-speaking Quebec. There must be work around for that. Just don't plan on moving anywhere with that skill set.Does anyone know if studying to become a French to English translator is a wise idea?
Unless you get a job at some kind of educational software company translating materials, I would probably diversify and work on other business or teaching skills as well.
Just a thought:

You may want to learn Haitian Creole as well. It's not at all a stretch from French, and it will vastly widen your job opportunities.

Best wishes!
In general, the job market for translators is a) nearly non-existent if you're not completely fluent in at least two languages, and b) pretty low-paying because there are a lot of bilingual people out there who didn't get jobs doing something else (or are doing translating on the side).

If you plan to stay in Canada, I suspect there may be some market for translating, but it is likely very small - every company just needs one person to translate all their literature, and often will subcontract this out so one translator may freelance for several corporations. On-the-spot translation jobs also tend not to be very high-paying: hospitals, hotels, airports, etc.

Part of why it's hard to find a job is that a) anyone who is fluently bilingual can do it (including retirees, teens, and people with physical disabilities who might not be able to do other jobs), and b) if you're good, the job isn't very hard. Now, being a *really good* translator may pay a bit better in situations that need it (poetry books, maybe?), but unless you really, really love French and English, it's probably not a great career choice :-)

If you're not completely fluent in both languages, I particularly warn you away from translation jobs. There are thousands of Spanish majors in the US who don't speak Spanish as a native language, for example, and find themselves in the job market against many native Spanish speakers who can do on-the-fly translation much more quickly and accurately. This is probably less true with other languages (I expect Arabic languages may be in high demand!), but is important to note.
Like the others, I've heard that earning a living as a translator isn't very easy. I've heard that the major editors usually want to hire translators who have written their own books first (and thus proved their writing ability).

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