Combining translation with other work

A lot of translators, especially those who are just starting their careers, combine translation with other work, such as an unrelated part-time job to support themselves while they establish their business, or language teaching. There are several advantages and disadvantages to doing this.

Advantages

One of the main advantages of combining translation with other work is that it can provide variety. This can be especially important if you work from home, where you might appreciate the opportunity to work with other people and socialise with your colleagues. A need for variety is probably one of the reasons why language teaching is also popular with translators, many of whom find that they need a break from sitting at a desk typing on a computer and enjoy the opportunity for interaction with others.

Another advantage is that you could make contacts who may be able to refer you to potential clients, especially if you work in a field which is related to your translation specialisation. For example if you are a financial translator and you work in an accountant’s office your boss might know someone who needs their company accounts translated. Also, if your part-time job is in a similar field it could be an excellent source of specialist knowledge and enable you to keep up with the latest industry developments.

Disadvantages

There are also several disadvantages to combining translation with a part-time job. You would need to have excellent time-management skills in order to manage both your clients’ demands and your additional employment and even then you may find yourself having to turn down interesting translation work because of your commitments to your second job as many translation jobs are often offered at very short notice.

Taking on a part-time job in most cases involved being employed and I know from experience that it can be difficult for a freelancer to adjust to being an employee who has to take orders from superiors and negotiate the battlefield of office politics. You would lose one of the main benefits of being freelance – deciding when you want to go on holiday without have to ask your boss’s permission. Also, what do you do if you book holidays with your employer but are then offered translation work?

What has been your experience of combining translation with other work?

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