Where to begin?

It takes time to start making a living with translations. Therefore, those who do not have sponsors (parents, spouses or other interested persons) should first of all get a job. It is best to be a translator for any salary (newcomers do not have to choose especially) in some translation department or in the staff of a translation agency in order to work under the supervision of an editor. At the same time, you can recruit a clientele (planning to become a freelancer) or look for a place with a good salary (preferring to work in the state). If you didn’t manage to get a job as a translator right away, you should go as a manager to some promising industry (banking, oil) – preferably to a foreign company. This will allow you to build vocabulary and specialize in a specific topic. (All reputable employers value specialists, not just generalist translators.)

What to do?

Go to job sites, respond to ads, send resumes. In this case, one should not chase mass character, but try to carefully work out every suitable opportunity. This means, firstly, that a foreign language graduate should not pretend to be an experienced medical translator or apply for translations in a poorly mastered language pair. And, secondly, it is necessary to fulfill the requirements of employers. It is written: call – call, it is written: write – write, ask to send a resume – send, do not ask – do not send. And put yourself in the employer’s shoes all the time. Imagine, for example, that you receive dozens of files every day with the unassuming name resume.doc, and you immediately guess to name your resume Petere_Ivanov.doc.


A well-written resume is half the success. The requirements are different in different organizations, so I will venture to give only general advice. In my opinion, the most important thing is brevity, information content and the absence of spelling errors (oddly enough, most resumes have them). When composing a resume, you need to clearly understand what and how characterizes his hero. For example, I don’t care whether the translator is married or not and how old his children are. It does not matter to me what school he attended, but if a person for some reason writes “graduated from school number 7”, then it is worth indicating in which city this venerable institution is located. The same goes for abbreviations. It is better to simply write that he worked in the translation department of a metallurgical plant than to mysteriously mention UPP LGZhZ. If a person has a rich work history, then it is not always worth describing it in its entirety. The fact that you worked as a stockbroker is important for an agency specializing in financial transfers, but the fact that you worked as a janitor during your student years is clearly superfluous information.

The devil is not so terrible as he is painted

Translation agency is a constant character of translation horror stories. All translation forums are full of stories about greedy and dishonest agencies, as well as trying to deceive a defenseless translator. The most typical is the story of how a huge user manual split into small fragments was sent out in the form of mock tests to hundreds of translators. To say that all these horrors are completely sucked from the finger, of course, is impossible. Indeed, agencies are different. However, if we are talking about serious organizations, it is important to understand that they play an important role in the translation business and no one can replace them. And those agencies that have been on the market for a long time and work stably, simply cannot engage in fraud. (By the way, hand out some document to your friends for translation, and then try to put it together as a whole. You will see that it is faster to translate everything yourself.)

Why do customers need an agency

An organization with a small volume of translations does not need an agency. She’d better find a good translator and work with him. Thus, the unity of terminology and increased interest of the performer are ensured (after all, in this case, all the money for the work goes directly to him). For large organizations with a stable volume of work, the best solution is to create your own translation department. The advantages are obvious: the same consistency of terminology plus close contact between translators and specialists who can always explain what’s what in a complex production process.

What is a reliable agency

The most accurate idea about the agency can be obtained from the experience of communicating with him. However, this experience is fraught with monetary losses. Therefore, for a start, it is better to take a closer look at it, try to find out the opinion of friends or visitors to translation forums.


On the one hand, having your own website would seem to characterize an organization well. On the other hand, many translation bureaus were formed back in Soviet times (and this is a plus!), When there were no Internet connections at all. Having a stable circle of customers, they often continue to live in the old fashioned way, without experiencing the need for a website. And vice versa, two student-programmers, who decided to quickly cash in on other people’s translations, can declare themselves an agency, make a very beautiful website, post advertisements all over the Runet and collect money from clients for a couple of months without paying the translators anything. Therefore, the presence of the site itself is not a guarantee of reliability.


A well-equipped office, located in a good location, speaks of the agency’s solidity, but at the same time its high overhead costs, which, of course, are paid from the same money received for translations.


In my opinion, the most important thing is the speed of response. When I, as a customer, was looking for an agency to translate into the languages ​​of the CIS, I called a bunch of organizations, sent out a lot of messages by e-mail. Most of the bureaus found in Runet simply did not respond! However, here it is important to distinguish between responses to requests from customers and translators. Although most agencies are constantly looking for a workforce (there are actually very few qualified translators), this is not true for all agencies. Therefore, if the agency did not respond to your proposal, this does not characterize it badly. Worse, if it does not fulfill its promises: if the ad says “send us your resume, we will definitely answer you,” but there is no answer, then this is an alarming sign.

Abroad will help us

The most lucrative clients live, of course, across the okiyan sea. They have only two drawbacks: it is difficult to reach them and it is difficult to get money from them. The general principles, however, are the same: a direct client with a large volume of work is better than an agency; it is important to make sure of the reliability of the customer; it is necessary to purposefully send out correctly composed resumes! (Samples of English resumes are not hard to find on the Internet).

And you will succeed!