Can a gringo or a laowai make it as a translator?
June 24, 2011 4:41 PM Subscribe
I'm sorta multilingual, in Spanish and Mandarin. I don't have many other skills. How good would I need to get before I can make a living from this ability? What jobs could I get if I were to improve in one or both languages?
posted by skewed to Education (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm looking for a career, and having recently given up on law school for now, I'm considering my options. Right now I teach LSAT prep classes and make a decent living but there's not much of a future in it.
I have a BA in Philosophy and Spanish, several years of teaching experience in high schools in China where I picked up conversational level Mandarin. My Spanish is better that my Mandarin, but I'm not fluent in either, and I'm basically illiterate in Mandarin.
It seems to me that there are so many native speakers of both Spanish and Mandarin that it'd be tough to make a living doing any kind of translating or interpreting. I've heard of non-native court interpreters, medical translators, etc, but don't know how realistic that is; would I have to have near native speaker fluency to do this?
I think if I took a couple months to practice, I could make a big jump in my Spanish ability, my accent is pretty rough but my comprehension is pretty good when listening to TV, reading newspaper articles. Mandarin improvement would take a huge investment in time; I'd estimate my speaking ability to be a 2+ or 3 on the 5 point scale used by the State Department. I'm thinking of maybe doing the summer program at Middlebury next year if I think the investment would be worthwhile. I could also afford to go to a Spanish school in Central or South America for a couple months to focus on Spanish.
I was thinking of maybe trying to become a high school Spanish or ESL teacher, but I hear that there's a glut of teachers these days.
Any suggestions for jobs I might not have considered? Any success stories that didn't involve in moving overseas for several years or marrying a native speaker in the target language? Any guidance or suggestions would be very helpful.