Falling is permitted... getting back up is a requirement - Russian proverb.
Becoming a Russian translator is not hard to do, but it is not easy either. You will have to continue learning about Russian culture and study the language well to be a member of the thousands-strong brigade of translators employed around the world. Or, you could strike out as an independent to translate from Russian to English.
"I often have the image of information flowing from one brain to another - from sender to receiver. Translation means extracting the essence of the message and conveying it to the audience. To translate effectively, the message must be free of any ambiguity and imprecision so that the translation is clear and faithful to the original message. " Anne-Sophie Aboké, freelance translator.
Ms Aboké expresses well the concept of translating. It's not about converting words; it's about the texts' meaning. Is that what you're interested in doing as a career?
Now, you can find out job opportunities after your training as a Russian translator, and what salary you can expect.
What to Do After Securing Your Russian Translator Credentials
As a prospective Russian translator, after graduation from your university degree programme or sitting the DipTrans certification exam, you have a lot of options open to you.
Before we go on, just so you know: even if you don't have a degree in Russian language studies, you can still get started working in translation because there are no certifications needed.
Freelance or Salaried?
The opportunities are numerous and depend on your preferred work arrangement.
You will first have to choose a status: freelance/independent or salaried. You could easily do both, there's nothing wrong with working through a translation agency while still taking translation gigs on your own. Of course, you should not engage in unfair competition. It's generally considered bad form to lure clients away from the agency you work at to build your client base.
You can find a job as a salaried translator in an agency specializing in translation. However, if such agencies are your first choice for Russian to English translator jobs, be aware that such agencies mainly work with freelance translators. That way, they can balance the number of translators against the number of available assignments. That keeps their overhead low while still getting the work done, regardless of how heavy the load.
If you are employed in an agency, you may be tasked with proofreading and correcting texts translated by freelancers.
Another possible work opportunity is through an international organization or a ministry.
This is a good solution if you want travel to be a part of your work and make business trips to translate official documents. You may be attached to the Foreign Office or work with an international charity to translate legal and financial documents, public announcements and other vital communications.
As a translator of the Russian language, you also have the opportunity to work with a large multinational group.
Many internationally-developed companies employ people who can speak more than one language - and they hire speakers of different languages, too, not just Russian.
These companies need people who can translate their documents into the target language, whether for their employees or the general public as part of an advertising campaign. Instruction manuals for their products is a prime example of the type of translation work you might be assigned to do.
If you love nothing better than curling up with a good book, consider becoming a translator in a publishing house to translate literary texts. On the other hand, if films are more your thing, why not send your CV and some sample translations to film production companies to do their subtitling or dubbing scripts?
Finally, you can go on your own as a freelance translator to take on the type of translation work that most interests you. Just beware that you will have to look for your clients and that there may be a few dry spells income-wise until your business gets off the ground.
A Russian Translator With a Speciality
As illustrated above, you have many opportunities to practise your profession through a variety of outlets. That's not enough to make a go of things yet; you also have to choose your speciality.
Here's why: a technical translator would struggle to translate court documents while the sworn translator - the expert on legal terminology, might be lost trying to translate a scientific paper.
Perhaps you have already chosen a speciality while planning your career as a translator. Maybe you even did a double major study programme at uni just to have additional knowledge in a specific field such as health or law.
Good on your for your hard work and forethought but, if you didn't, that's okay too. Check out these different specialities to see which ones you would be comfortable engaging in:
- The literary translator works with publishing houses or as a freelancer with publishers. You would be contracted to translate works intended for publication. You may need to translate all kinds of books: novels, short stories; also practical guides or cookbooks. The literary translator can also work with news agencies to translate articles and interviews from Russian into English.
- The technical translator: this is where the dual study curriculum can help you. As a technical translator, you should have mastery of the area or field, including its vocabulary. You might consider being a medical translator, a legal, electronic, or multimedia translator. You may even work in telecommunications (this is one of the most promising sectors). You will have to learn to use specific equipment and new technologies to carry out your translations.
- Audiovisual translator: you will specialize in translating subtitles and dubbing scripts for cinema, television and/or radio. Naturally, you won't dub the films yourself; you'll write the scripts for the voice actors to read. Of special note is the complexity of dubbing. You must make sure that the translation fits perfectly with the original dialogue, paying special attention to the length of the sentences, the manner of speaking and the mouth movements of the actors in the original language. What a challenge!
- Post-editor translator: you will be responsible for correcting and revising various texts (novels, user guides, etc.) automatically translated by translation software. You shouldn't be surprised that some companies rely on translation software for the bulk of their translations, only calling on an experienced pro such as yourself for the final polishing.
- The terminologist translator: this is a more specific profession of translation. As you've asserted yourself as a linguistic expert, you will be responsible for finding English equivalents to foreign terms, particularly in technical fields such as aeronautics or medicine. These positions are rather scarce but there are few possibilities open to a Russian translator.
- The translator reviser is responsible for checking over a translation and improving its style, as needed. It is therefore essential to know about cultural differences to adapt the works from the Russian language/culture to English. Such a translator may need to add footnotes to give the translation cultural and contextual explanations.
- The localization translator specializes in internet, multimedia, IT or video game language. You will be responsible for adapting complete interfaces of games, websites or applications to users from countries and different cultures.
- The sworn translator is the only one authorized to translate certain official documents (identity documents, civil status certificates, judgments and so on); these translations have legal weight. To become a sworn translator, you must receive approval from the judicial authorities. You will then have a license to work with the police and other investigative bodies, and the courts during hearings, investigations and trials.
You might wonder about all of these specializations: do you need any type of certification to declare yourself a specialist?
How Much Does a Russian Translator Earn?
As listed above, there are many ways to become a translator, and the pay can vary from job to job. How much you earn depends on your experience, your specialization and your status - whether you're independent/freelance or salaried.
As an entry-level salaried translator, you will earn around £18,000 per year (source: Payscale). Naturally, your salary will vary, depending on your speciality and level of experience. A more experienced translator can anticipate earning up to £39,000 per year - always depending on the company you work with.
As a freelance, your earnings depend on the assignments you work on. In the beginning, you will likely have a hard time getting any high-paying work but, as you build your business, you will be able to live very well off of translation work, earning around the same wages as salaried employees; maybe even higher.
Beware that your income won't necessarily be steady as a freelancer. You may have a few months of earning no more than £1,000 and then land a fat contract that pays £6,000-£7, 000.
As an entrepreneur, you will need to set your rates - per word, line, sheet, document, package, hour, day, depending on your client and the language. You might, for example, charge a flat rate of £250 for a technical translation. Your prices may increase the more experience you gain, and they will depend on your specialization.
In case you were wondering, technical translation is better paid because it is a rarer skill; it's much more challenging than the translation of cookbooks, for example.
As a self-employed person, you will have the status of a micro-entrepreneur. Remember that you will have to declare your income and pay HMRC yourself; be sure you account for taxes when you get your paycheques.
Also, note that, as a self-employed person, you do not get any paid vacation, and you must make your National Insurance contributions on your own. Be aware that what you contribute could reduce your retirement monies.
These are all aspects to take into account when you decide whether to start as a self-employed person or as an employee in a firm or agency.
You can earn additional income by giving Russian lessons, for example.
How to Develop Your Skills as a Russian Translator
If you have been a translator for several years, you can continue your momentum by increasing your rates and specializing as a terminologist, for example, or a legal translator.
You can also move to other positions within the translation agency or company you work at, maybe towards a coordinator or management position, such as translation project manager, translation department manager, translator trainer, translations reviser and so on.
Finally, you may add an arrow to your quiver by turning to language teaching (Russian, of course!), publishing, journalism or even writing fiction.
So, are you ready to become a Russian translator? Which specialization will you choose?