Here at PVT, we get a lot of questions about who our freelance translators are, why they got into the industry and how they keep their careers going. So we thought we’d introduce two of ours to share what motivates them, how they structure their days and what they think the future holds for the translation business.
Julie has been in the business for 13 years, translating English into French. When Julie isn’t translating, she enjoys listening to podcasts, playing video games and spending time with her husband.
Josiane lives with her husband and son. She has been a freelance translator for over 20 years, and translates from English to French. Josiane spends her free time with family and friends, going to the movies and visiting museums.
Why did you decide to become a translator?
JULIE: I have always loved words and grammar, and prefer working on challenging projects. Translation is a great way to keep up on certain industries and subjects. One week you can work on a financial document, and the next it could be engineering. It’s very exciting!
JOSIANE: Because “translation” is what I do the best… More seriously, I have travelled a lot for work and for leisure, and lived in several countries including in the United States, England and Netherlands. I’ve always loved the English language, and translation was a key aspect in each of my previous jobs.
How did you get into the business of freelance translation?
JULIE: I initially studied psychology and languages in a town that was largely bilingual. It was common practice to offer bilingual documents and research papers, and I gladly offered my services! I did my first translations as a university student and, as with most things, my mistakes helped me to gain invaluable knowledge and experience.
JOSIANE: I began to think about becoming a freelance translator after the new millennium… I felt that I needed a change. It was a new chapter of my life and a new challenge. I sent out applications to several agencies and I had my first translation assignment three months later. It was a document for the insurance industry, and the first in a long list of translations in this field!
How long did it take to get your freelance career going?
JULIE: Once I decided that translation was not just a student job, but something I could really see myself doing, I reached out in a more professional manner and offered my services to teachers and students. There were many takers! After I graduated, I set up a profile and focused on building a solid client list. I would say that it took about two years for me to retain great clients that I worked with on a consistent basis.
JOSIANE: It took about two years before I got into a good workflow.
What type of training do you have?
JULIE: I have a degree in Psychology and Language as well as Computer Science. As a hobby, I study Japanese and Spanish.
JOSIANE: I hold a diploma in International Trade from a French University.
What’s a typical work day for you?
JULIE: My days depend on the type of project I am working on, but I will normally devote five hours per day to a project, usually in the evening since this is when I am most productive. I am always happy to adjust my hours and have, on many, many occasions, worked much longer days.
JOSIANE: As much as I can, I try to keep the same working hours as I would in an office. My day usually starts at 8am and the first thing I do is respond to emails. I take a 90-minute break at noon for lunch, and then I work until 5pm when my husband and son come home. When I am very busy or have a tight deadline, my work day can be something like: “Getting up early in the morning and staying up late at night”.
We’d love to hear from you! If you have any questions about becoming a freelance translator, or comments about your experience as one, please get in touch! Contact