Becoming A Japanese Translator: Job Types — 10 Comments

  1. I would very much prefer to be an actual freelancer someday because I don’t want to make translation my primary source of income, at least for now. Working in an office is therefore out of the question. I’m actually doing amateur translations of some manga and light novels nowadays, so I guess I’m on my way. I hope ^^

    “When you work from home, this doesn’t happen. The only thing that happens is you, your pajamas, and your desk.”

    Adam先生のパジャマ姿...み、みたい! o(≧∇≦o)

    • Usually doing amateur translation naturally leads you to freelance translation, so there is a lot of hope!


  2. Thank you for this info. I dream of translating one day but being so new I feel like it will take years upon years to even get started to translate anything. I guess when you are learning you are technically translating your sentences into English but as you’ve said before, that is totally different from having paragraphs and things that have to sound correct and have flow as a whole.

    I hope to get there on day. You’re articles are awesome; so informative, I enjoy getting the newsletters so much! :)

    • You will get there, and it won’t take an eternity. It’ll be sooner than you think, and as long as you enjoy the ride while putting in the work every day, you have a lot of excitement ahead of you.

  3. I’ve been an in-house translator (although translation was only half of my job, so not really full time) and am currently a freelance translator. I’ve also done little bits of translation of unpaid translation and interpreting over the years. I definitely love the freedom that working freelance gives me. I found that the way I work best when translating doesn’t really fit with normal working hours, and that the office environment really got in the way of actually working! It was a great way for me to get a lot of experience though, and I actually still get a lot of work from the company I used to work for.

    The only problem with working freelance is the lack of stability, but I think the benefits more than outweigh that! I would definitely recommend it if you want to work as a translator in Japan, as working at many Japanese companies is… not great. The flexibility of basically being able to work anywhere with internet is good for me too as it means I can go back home for longer and still work, and I could move anywhere in Japan and still keep the same job. If I was working in my home country (the UK) instead I might be more tempted to try to find an in-house position.

    (Also I meant to share my experiences in the comments on other posts in this series, but I had to take an unexpected trip home for a funeral so wasn’t able to. I didn’t really have much to add anyway though!)

    • You worked as an in-house translator while you were in Japan right? I’m sure that does add a different layer of stress, as a lot can be said about the work environment of many (though not all) Japanese companies.

      You bring up a good point about stability in freelance translating, so I think people have to weigh the benefits and how important the extra freedom is to them.

      • Yup. I think there are probably places in Japan where working as an in-house translator would be really great, but it wasn’t for me.

        It takes a while to get established doing anything freelance, so while I am really glad that I made the choice, I think it’s something that requires a lot of thought (and a decent amount of savings to tide you over) before you make the leap. (Some people recommend doing it on the side until you have enough regular work to know that it’s financially viable, which is also a great way to approach it that’s less scary than diving in without any guarantee of any work!)

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience!
    I’m still a newbie in Japanese, but I’m really interested in the language.
    Recently, I started to translate manga for free, and it’s really nice and I like it a lot!
    But I’m wondering, if anyone has any experience on becoming a translator…?
    I’m afraid I like translating manga EXCLUSIVELY, and not other articles etc… (as I rarely read actually… ): )

    • And can I please ask anyone here who has translating experiences…
      What do you all usually translate?
      Because I’m really curious what translators (JapaneseEnglish translators to be specific) usually translate.
      If I was able to pick a field, I would definitely love to translate more in the entertainment industry (shows/ books/ games) instead of political things like news or boring (100% IMO) articles………….
      But just wondering, is there a mix or…? Is 80% translating ARTICLES? O_O

      • I know this school that is online and in Japan that helps with that kind of translation. It’s called Jvta. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but plan on doing it. I know this is late.

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