Interpreting (translation) in the UK
February 13, 2016 4:55 AM   Subscribe

I've been a freelance Spanish interpreter & translator for a few years now in the U.S., and I've managed to create a sort-of stable lifestyle out of it, alongside another part-time job. I will be moving to the U.K. in a few months with my partner, however, and I need to start looking into the prospects across the pond.

Suffice to say, there is almost assuredly not the same level of need as the States when it comes to Spanish specifically. However, I imagine that with the proximity to Spain (my country of origin), there is still a fair amount at some level of society--perhaps more bureaucratic than what I am used to.

So my question is twofold:

1) Over here, while there are certifications, there is nothing stopping you from working in most lay-environments if you know the language. Obviously, in terms of courts or hospitals I would not be allowed in the door without one--but then, I've never had the need.

Do folks know of any such barriers in the U.K.? Or, conversely, is the environment such that getting one would just be a smart move regardless? I say this as someone who makes quadruple or more my regular salary freelancing now, with no certification at all.

2) Do folks have any concrete suggestions in terms of organisations to look out for? In terms of interpreting in general, or Spanish in particular? Shot in the dark, but I figured I'd try.

Thanks so much!
posted by parkbench to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Translation of written material is hardly location bound. Can't you keep working with your existing customers? Get some advice on tax issues involved but I'd start there.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:52 AM on February 13, 2016


Keep in mind that you're going to be competing with a lot of native Spaniards who have emigrated to the UK. English is the most common second language taught in Spain, and the economic crisis has sent many young people abroad. With the exception of nurses and doctors, the opportunities for Spaniards in the UK have been more or less grim, and the stock character is a college graduate "cleaning toilets in London".
posted by sukeban at 8:30 AM on February 13, 2016


We sometimes get translation work done in the UK. The companies all seem to have a stable of translators who get the work sent to them electronically. Ie, location can be anywhere.
posted by biffa at 8:36 AM on February 13, 2016


If you can do more translation and less interpretation then yes you can continue working for your US clients too, as well as gaining new ones in the UK.

As for certifications, they’re not strictly required anywhere but of course they can help a lot, and the UK just so happens to have a certification that has major recognition worldwide, the Diploma in Translation from the Chartered Institute of Linguists Educational Trust (yeah that’s a mouthful already). City University London does a good distance course in preparation for the exam.
I was going to say the exam itself is not that expensive but wow, they raised the fees a lot since I took it!I would still say it’s worth its money anyway.

They also have certifications for interpreting, I’m not familiar with those but I assume they’d be just as valued so if you do get a lot of business interpreting you might want to consider those too.

Keep in mind that you're going to be competing with a lot of native Spaniards who have emigrated to the UK.

Bu that’s really irrelevant here - I take it parkbench means interpreting and translating from Spanish into English, so that won’t change between US and UK - you do need to be a native speaker of English to translate into English, it’s the standard requirement normally. Besides, you don’t become a translator or interpreter just by speaking the language so native Spaniards moving to the UK in general won’t be any competition in that respect. The competition will be other established interpreters and translators in the UK who work with Spanish and I bet there’s a lot of that already in the US.
posted by bitteschoen at 2:33 PM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Bu that’s really irrelevant here - I take it parkbench means interpreting and translating from Spanish into English, so that won’t change between US and UK - you do need to be a native speaker of English to translate into English, it’s the standard requirement normally.

In his OP parkbench says he's a native Spaniard too, only he's been living in the USA for some years.
posted by sukeban at 2:50 PM on February 13, 2016


Yeah, but bitteschoen's point is valid in that the field of translating/interpreting still tends to be narrower since it is a trade in and of itself, after all...having a lot of experience may be my leg up there.

Thank you for some of the breakdown, bitte, and everyone else. Of course, I could definitely keep working with U.S. clients, which I have always hoped--but most of my work currently is in interpreting; the text translation I have done is intermittent. So in this realm it is more of a wide net. I am sure I will find my niche, but I am sort of trying to get a sense of the "playing field", as it were...lots of translation work out there is bogus or underpaid, no matter where you are--so pointers help.

I may have to bite the bullet and do the glorified online bulletin board approach of slogging my way through websites--my brother certainly did--but all of my work has always been built through personal and professional relationships that I built over time.

Having ways to join orgs or get in with certain scenes are much more preferable to me than trying to throw spaghetti at the wall until someone notices me--and I say this because I have always had other means to make a living at my disposal.

The more I have to face the prospect that this might be my main "in", the more I should have to be prepared to do, I suppose--but I also have experience working on complex projects, so I would like to not regress professionally if I can avoid it.

Anyway just rambling now. I'mn gonna look into this Diploma. Thanks for the support y'all!
posted by parkbench at 3:15 AM on February 14, 2016


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