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Becoming A Japanese Translator: Finding Work — 8 Comments

  1. Telling people to work for free is such a shitty thing to do. Manga scanlations is one thing, there’s a huge community doing them for free anyway, but social media, speeches, presentations, e-mails? This is something somebody would be getting paid for. Encouraging people to work for free is killing the industry. Also, if you translate e-mails for free for somebody, no way that they’ll suddenly think “oh, maybe I’ll start paying them now”. They’ll gonna milk the sucker who is doing free work for them dry.

    • There’s a difference between telling skilled professionals to work for free, and telling a beginner with no experience and limited skills to work for free.

      To draw an analogy, whenever someone asks me how to get into the Video Game industry, I tell them to go build a portfolio and gain experience. I tell them to make things in their free time (that they probably won’t make money on), and to volunteer their services to small independent projects (that they likely won’t get paid for). This allows them to build an experience base, and is effectively an investment in their future career. They have to do this because companies would rather pay for a skilled pro, than have the work done for free by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

      • This, this, this. I broke into web development in a similar way. Taught myself to program in a very short time and then began contributing massively to opensource projects. It allowed me to have something on my resume, let me make connections in the industry, and gave me vital experience working on projects with other people. With that foothold, I was able to quickly get a paid position.

        Even students who get into an industry via the more traditional four-year-college path, often do an unpaid or extremely low-paid intenship towards the end of their schooling, for a similar reason.

        It is an unfortunate fact of the world that it takes experience to get a job, and a job to gain experience, so doing things for free that let you demonstrate that experience are simply part of paying your dues.

    • It’s very easy to fall into this trap especially when you are starting out, but take a step back for a second.

      Two people are interviewing for a job, one says they have zero experience in the field. The other talks about all the projects they have worked on (volunteering of course). Who has the better chance at getting the job?

    • The only thing that’s killing the industry is people who claim to be professional translators, but are just scammers who undercut the genuine translators out there and end up doing a crappy job. Companies like Gengo and Yaqs don’t exactly help here, but I don’t think they’re very well respected in the industry, anyway. Anyone with real talent will be able to find work, and if you have knowledge in a specialist field, you’ll be able to carve out a niche and you’ll be the one doing the milking.

      If someone’s looking for a translator to work for free on their small project, chances are quality is not important enough for them to want to pay anyway. No experienced, skilled translator would touch these kinds of jobs, but they could be great for a newbie looking to get some experience. You’d be lucky to get paying work from them in the future, but if you’re working for free, you can always ask your non-paying clients to start paying up. If they turn around and say no, then they’re the ones that have to find a new translator.

      That non-paying client is a potential future reference for when you pass a translation test for an agency after a month of doing small jobs for free. In the end, it’s your ability and professionalism that count, not how many jobs you’ve done, for free or otherwise.

  2. Does anyone have specific amateur manga websites, newspapers, blogs etc., that they’ve done free translations for to get practice? I’m having trouble finding good places to do this. I’ve been using Gengo a bit but the jobs available can be pretty sparse a lot of the time. Thank you!

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