A lot of translators, especially those who are just starting their careers, combine translation with other work, such as language teaching or an unrelated part-time job to support themselves while they establish their business. There are several advantages and disadvantages to doing this.
One of the main advantages of combining translation work with other employment is that it can provide variety. This can be important if you work from home, where you might appreciate the chance to work with other people and socialise with your colleagues. A need for variety is one of the reasons why language teaching is also popular with translators. Many find that they need a break from sitting at a desk, typing on a computer and enjoy the chance to use their language skills while working with other people.
Another advantage is that you could make contacts who could be able to refer you to potential clients, especially if you work in a field that is related to your translation specialisation. For example, if you’re a financial translator and you work in an accountant’s office your boss might know someone who needs their company accounts translated. If your part-time job is in a similar field it could be an excellent source of specialist knowledge and help you keep up with the latest industry developments.
There are also several disadvantages to combining translation work with a part-time job. You’d need to have excellent time-management skills to manage both your clients’ demands and your additional employment. Even then you may find yourself having to turn down interesting translation work because of your commitments to your second job since many translation jobs are often offered at very short notice.
Taking on a part-time job in most cases involved being employed. 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’d lose one of the main benefits of being freelance – deciding when you want to go on holiday without having to ask your boss’s permission. Also, what do you do if you book holidays with your employer but are then offered translation work?