Translation as a career
Translation as a career

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Translation as a career

Geoffrey Samuelsson-Brown

Geoffrey Samuelsson-Brown, author of the book A Practical Guide for Translators, describes a typical day and how as a freelance translator he might divide up his time over the month:

Each day is different since a translator, particularly a freelance, needs to deal with a number of tasks and there is no typical day. I usually get up at around 7 in the morning, shower, have breakfast and get to my desk at around 8 just as my wife is leaving to drive to her office. Like most freelances I have my office at home.

I work in spells of 50 minutes and take a break even if it is just to walk around the house. I try and take at least half an hour for lunch and try to finish at around 5 unless there is urgent work and then I will perhaps work in the evening for an hour or so. But I do the latter only if a premium payment is offered and I wish to accept the work. If I were to analyse an average working month of 22 possible working days, I would get the following:

Task or item to which time is accountedTime spent on the task
Translation including project management, research, draft translation, proofreading and editing, resolving queries and administrationFifteen and a half days
Office administration including invoicing, purchasing and correspondence (tax issues and bookkeeping are dealt with by my accountant)Two days
External activities such as networking and marketingOne day
Continuous personal development including – and this is not a joke – watching relevant TV programmes or reading articles on subjects in which you have or wish to improve your expertise.One day
Public or other holidays (say 21 days leave and 7 days public holidays)Two and a half days

My average monthly output for these fifteen and a half effective days is around 28,000 words. If this is spread out over effective working days of six working hours (8 x 50 minutes in reality), my effective hourly production rate is 300 words an hour. This may not seem a lot but it may be worth considering that to expect to work undisturbed on translation eight hours a day, five days a week, is unrealistic. There may also be times when you are physically or mentally unable to work – how do you take account of such eventualities as a freelance?

(Samuelsson-Brown, 2010, pp. 3–4)

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371