Translation as a careerPosted on September 9th, 2009 3 comments
Hooray! The entry I did about ROM messages got linked from a lot of places, including Make Magazine’s blog, which cheers me because I love that magazine to bits.
A new reader from that link wrote in with an unrelated question:
I’m writing to ask you if you have any tips as to how to break into commercial translation. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Japanese language from a local university and I’m working at a Japanese company but the translation work in the company is very low-demand.
I would like to get into contract work in any field, (video games preferred of course but that’s pie in the sky). Can you give me any tips?
Also, I’m planning on taking the JLPT this season, Level 2, mostly for experience. I know I could pass Level 3 but the next level is much harder overall. Did you take the test, or do you know if it’s even relevant in the field?
I contributed to a great big article all about this subject for issue 2 or 3 of PiQ which I oughta scan in (what, is ADV gonna sue me?!!), but it’s not all that different from getting a job in game PR, or game media, or game creatin’. First you prove you can do things, and then you pass that around to people, and then those people let other people know about you, and eventually that leads to some sort of a job. No real secret to it other than that.
In terms of more concrete advice I’d say that the $100/yr I spend on American Translators Association dues and being present in their database has, so far, gotten me a lot more than $100/yr worth of work. There’s also ProZ, but I have to admit I’ve never hardcore-used that site.
As for the JLPT, it’s another line to fill the resume with but if I was the hiring editor my preoccupation would be with two things:
- Your translation samples
- Your references telling me that you submit decent work on time and are generally congenial
Some time waaaay back in 2000 I had both of those things and I am still able to afford fancy $4 beer so It Really Works!
(2000 was the year I passed level 1 of the JLPT, which is a good test of non-technical Japanese comprehension on a pretty native level. The JLPT is wonderful as a signpost for Japanese language study, but if you’re aiming for a career involving the Japanese language, you better at least comprehend enough to pass level 1. I don’t know if it’s true now like it was in 2000, but what I found was that if you think you can ace level 2, you can put in just a bit more work and probably pass level 1.)
Well, the jump from level 2 to level 1 seems pretty significant to me. I think the number of Kanji goes from like 900 to 1900, plus other fun stuff like yojijukugo, plus also all sorts of polite and humble language (or so I’ve heard). I suppose once you’ve learned to what you have to do to study and figure out level 2, you should be set on a track for level 1, but it looks like a pretty big jump to me.
Great post. I’m sure everyone would love to read that article from PiQ, too!
I’m curious to know what kinds of things would make good samples, for those of us who probably won’t be getting paid work in the (very long) meantime.
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