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Ben 5th October 2006 12:22 PM

Translation Work in Spain - Getting it and keeping it!
I get a lot of questions about translation work over here, so I thought this tips post from the blog would make a useful stickie post:

One. Your CV. Exaggerate a bit, all the Spanish do, and here there seems to be no chasing up of references. Remember that one translation you did for your uncle’s website? If it went well then your CV might as well say that you did regular translation work for his company for a year. I had no translation courses on my initial CV when I started free-lancing 3 years ago, just pretty fluent Spanish and some ‘expanded’ translation experience like this.

Two. E-mail a covering letter with a brief outline of your experience to a long list of translation agencies, offering to send them a full CV. Lists of agencies can be found via obvious google searches, and the Spanish yellow pages

Three. Aim to do around 3,000 words a day to start with, this is what the agencies will expect as a minimum, though with time, practice, and useful translation tools (see below), this may well increase to up to 6,000 a day. Say yes to all offered work and never miss a deadline!

Four. Use translation tools/programs such as Wordfast, and, if you can afford it, SDLX (try trial version first). These can save hours of your time and increase efficiency dramatically.

Five. Money. Expect to get 4.5 to 6 centimos per word from agencies, and 6 to 8 from direct clients. Direct clients come over time and are obviously preferable, as no agency cut is taken from the original price. You will need to be self-employed, or ‘Autonomo’, to work seriously as a translator in Spain.

Six. Get a decent broadband connection, you will need to be on-line all the time, using invaluable dictionary and definition websites. I swear by, whose incredible web search engine searches all my favorite sites at once. Make sure you include Eurodicautom in the selected dictionaries. also has other excellent resources for translators, such as the ability to send quieries to other translators around the world for help. And google is great for checking whether the word you just guessed at really exists or not.

Seven. Check check ckeck. When you finish a translation start with a spell check, then carefully re-read and revise your work, and finally spell check again. Imagine that another native speaker is going to quality check it after you (this does happen in some agencies), so make sure it sounds like good English (or the language in question) before you send it back. Ideally leave several hours, even a day, before a final read-through.

Eight. Learn to type fast, or use voice recognition software like Dragon Naturally Speaking, which really does work.

Nine. Be patient. It can take up to a year to build up a regular flow of work, but with hard marketing at the beginning, this may be quicker. You may need up to 3 or 4 agencies sending you work to make a good, secure living. It works well combined with other jobs such as English teaching (to get you out of the house!)

Ten. Advantages - the freedom of self-employment and working from home, and good money if you get enough words per month. Disadvantages - working from home (do you like your own company? Find a way to get out and see people a couple of times a week!), the downsides of self-employment (you will have to work the odd weekend and late night), plus it can be stressful when the client/agency wants that huge translation a.s.a.p. Finally, a lot of translation work is very boring (conracts, technical and engineering documents). But don't let that put you off - it's just something to bear in mind!

If you have any more ideas or questions, please feel free to reply below...

Edith 5th October 2006 12:31 PM

Thanks Ben for posting... I'm still thinking about embarking on that four-year Spanish translator's course next year! Unfortunately, I can't show you the curriculum details because they are all in Dutch, otherwise I would like you to see it. First of all, they teach you Spanish, and lots of it. Other subjects include computer skills (*heh*), translation skills, intercultural communication, history and culture of the Spanish-speaking world, etc.

Marina 5th October 2006 04:41 PM

That would be a great way to learn Spanish and get the skills for a future job if you move to Spain!!!

Edith 5th October 2006 05:47 PM


Originally Posted by Marina (Post 9255)
That would be a great way to learn Spanish and get the skills for a future job if you move to Spain!!!

Thanks Marina! :) Four years is a long time but it's something I've always wanted to do, so why not now?
But first... ”Tenerife! :cheers:

gary 5th October 2006 06:52 PM


Originally Posted by Edith (Post 9239)
..... Other subjects include computer skills (*heh*).....

Today iTunes - tomorrow the world!!!

Hope youre getting to grips with the vagueries of your new toy...

Edith 5th October 2006 07:29 PM


Originally Posted by gary (Post 9264)
Today iTunes - tomorrow the world!!!

Hope youre getting to grips with the vagueries of your new toy...

So far, so good... ;)

I haven't downloaded any music from my CDs yet, that's my project for the weekend. ;D

gary 5th October 2006 07:44 PM


Originally Posted by Edith (Post 9268)
So far, so good... ;)

I haven't downloaded any music from my CDs yet, that's my project for the weekend. ;D

make sure you are connected to the internet - iTunes goes online and puts in the details of each track from a database called Gracenote

You can put the cd in the drive and click File>import then navigate to your cd


Let the cd load up so you can see the tracks in the iTunes window then hold down shift > click the top track then the bottom track to hilight all and drag the tracks over the library icon....

reasy peasy

If you want to share your tracks with others select Advanced>Advanced>MP3 encoding

(The default is AAC encoding which only works on your ipod )

Edith 5th October 2006 08:04 PM

All right, vamos a ver! :)

There's tons of music stuff I'd like to download on my ”Pod. Thanks for the explanation!

richardksa 6th October 2006 10:55 AM


Originally Posted by Edith (Post 9239)
...... I can't show you the curriculum details because they are all in Dutch, otherwise I would like you to see it.

So your first translation job is to put it into English!!!!!!!!;)

Epicman 12th December 2006 09:27 PM

I'm a native Spanish speaker but lived in the US from the time I was 8 until last week. My English is better than my spanish, specially when it comes to writing. As far as finding work teaching english goes, I have no experience in teaching. Do I just say I do until I start finding work? Also, I take it CV mean resume? Thanks.

Ben 12th December 2006 10:08 PM

CV means resume, yes. I don't think there is any harm in a little exageration on the cv, even a tiny bit of invention at times....

Epicman 12th December 2006 10:28 PM

Would you say it's better to find translation work or work teaching English?

Ben 13th December 2006 07:21 AM

Teaching English is more fun, but more tiring and sometimes not as well paid. You can always try a bit of both at the same time!

Shona 2nd February 2007 11:34 AM


I'm new to the forum and would like to say that I think your site is fantastic. It's got really useful information and I can't believe the amount of work you must put in to maintain the excellent quality. Anyway back to the translation topic. I'm applying for a translation job in Madrid which doesn't require any translation qualifications or experience - just a native English speaker with a high level of Spanish. They have asked me to confirm my expected salary range and I'm unsure what would be deemed average for this type of role in Madrid. Is anyone able to give me a rough idea?

lightangel 13th May 2007 09:05 PM

As I hope to move to Spain next year I'm just looking at various options employment wise. If anyone has done translation work it would be interesting to know of your experiences ie...did it actually pay in the long term, was it too time consuming etc., it is definitely something worth considering.

omeyas 13th May 2007 10:56 PM

I've not done any paid translation, but know people that have, and it seems to me that it can be extremely competitive and not that well paid. To be able to speak Spanish reasonably well is no guarantee that you will be able to do translation work well. Have a look here and look in the forums, ask your questions there, these people are much better equipped to answer your questions. I don't want to appear negative, but it seems that everyone moving to Spain wants to work as a translator or do TEFL. Even if you succeed in getting a job, prepare yourself for a shock when they tell you the salary! :(
Direct link here.

Ben 14th May 2007 12:16 AM

When I worked full time as a translator I earnt around 2000 euros a month in a reasonable month, up to 3,500 in a busy month. A 2000 euro month meant working hard most days, but not too stressful. The 3,500 euro months were, however, very hard work. Translating involves a lot of tight deadlines and a lot of very difficult material (contracts, engineering, insurance, etc), and it takes months to build up a good level of work. English teaching provides a quicker means to a regular income, but unless you do a lot of private classes, you won't break the 2,000 euro a month barrier either.

Marķa Madrid 19th May 2007 04:17 AM

I agree, teaching is not so well paid. But besides boring technical translation :thumbs-down: there's a more interesting alternative: interpreting.

Obviously it's not so easy to get regular interpreting assignments BUT they're very well paid and if your clients like your job, they'd normally prefer to stick to their usual translators rather than trying new ones, even if they're cheaper.

Simultaneous interpreting is more difficult (and better paid!), but consecutive interpreting is easier and a good alternative many clients will be happy to accept. One day's work (8 hours) will get you around 600-800 €.

I don't like technical translations because, unless the text is directly related to your field, providing a good text takes a lot of research and double checks. And all that is so incredibly boooooring. :)

jimrodic 19th March 2008 10:11 AM

Curso De Ingles = English Course

Originally Posted by Ben (Post 9238)
I get a lot of questions about translation work over here, so I thought this tips post from the blog would make a useful stickie post:.....

If you have any more ideas or questions, please feel free to reply below...

Great information from Ben, Thanks. I was searching for the Translation from english to spainish long days. Then my freind in Spain told about one in Spain. I have Got a Great Training and Excellent Ideas there. Then I have recommended all my Friend thier.


Embug2000 19th July 2008 02:21 AM

Ok, so I am fairly new to the forum and I am learning alot as I read through the various posts. This one caught my eye because I am trying to figure out what to do when I move to Spain in 2009. I am currently a Spanish teacher in the States with an intermediate-high language proficiency, a friend in Spain recommended that I look into translating from Spanish to English, which seems like a pretty feasible idea. But I have so many questions about it all. Can anyone help me out?

1. I have only had one translation course and that was during my undergrad about 7 years ago. Will this hinder me? If so, what should I do to get a better foothold into the profession?

2. I have registered with at the suggestion of a forum member and after talking with my translator friend. But now I am at a loss of how to market myself since up to this point I have never done any translating. How does one market themselves for their first translation jobs? I don't even know what my specialty is!

3. Rates!? How do I know how much to charge? At this point I am still teaching in the States and I am just trying to build up a client base and repertoire before I make the move next year, so that when I am living in Spain I have some kind of income. (I am also going to apply to be a cultural assistant and try my hand at teaching English. I know it sounds like a lot but I will still have a few expenses back in the states to take care of, AND I want to travel while I am there.)

I am sure that there are many more questions floating around in my head but I can't put them into words right now. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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