H.O: Hello! I am looking for a translation job (English <-> Japanese) in which I can work during my free time (I don’t want to have to go to the office everyday) as I am working another part time job already. Do you know of any employers or recruiting companies that offer such translation work?Terrie: Translation is probably the most under-appreciated profession in Japan. Not only are jobs hard to find, but most customers consider price to be more important than quality, even when it may make their products/services appear to be a joke to the target audience. The reason is, of course, because many of those clients are not bilingual, and thus not able to judge just how bad a bad translation can make a company look.

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How do I know this? Because running a translation company was how I got started in Japan 20 years ago. While respect for the profession hasn’t seemed to improve, at least these days, thanks to the Internet, it is easier to find work. There are a number of web sites that you can go to, to find translation jobs. Probably at the top of the list is Henry Dotterer’s www.proz.com. I met Henry not long after he conceived this web site out of frustration over both the fragmentation of the industry and how a few companies would dictate the prices and conditions to translators. He wanted to help the translators connect directly with the customers. Through persistence and good ideas, Proz seems to be doing well these days.

Several other sites that show up on a “Japanese translator” search on Google include www.elance.com (search for Japanese translation) and www.translatorscafe.com. I don’t know much about these sites or their operators, but as always, shop around and you’ll soon find out which sites deliver the goods and which do not. Also, several good resources for translators to learn about what is going on in the industry are the localization industry trade organization www.lisa.org, the Japan Association of Translators website at www.jat.org, and the Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators website, at www.swet.jp.

Apart from web sites, to find translation work you pretty much have to approach the professional translation companies themselves, or go direct to customers that consume lots of translation. Let’s look at the translation companies first. One that has been in business for a long time and is known for its ethical performance/value standards is LDS – no, not the church of the Latter Day Saints, but instead, the Language Documentation Services company!

LDS was founded in 1980 by Ms. Kazue Hoshida, and is regarded as one of the best technical documentation specialists in Japan. Hoshida-san has done a great job building relationships with a number of major Japanese and foreign customers. LDS only handles the high-end of the market, so if you’re good at translating technical documents and/or books, then you might want to give them a call.

Other translation specialists in the market include Basis Technology, Toin Corporation, WordWorks, and others.

If you’re looking for a more permanent relationship with your translation client, then you need to go direct to the end consumer. There are a number of companies that create huge volumes of translation and thus are always on the look out for good quality freelancers. These include news organizations such as Reuters, CNN, and Bloomberg, analytical companies (particularly financial data vendors), market research companies, publishers, and of course localization companies such as Bowne Global (the biggest in the field) and LionBridge.

Many of these companies advertise on www.daijob.com from time to time, however, you can also try approaching them directly. You will find that the news and financial organizations are usually pretty picky about qualifications, whereas the publishers and localizers are more interested in experience. Localization companies in particular tend to be seasonal in offering jobs, with late winter and early fall being peak hiring periods, due to the launch of new products by their clients in spring and late fall.

Lastly, a good article about what it is like to be a freelance translator can be found on the JAT site, at: http://www.jat.org/meetings/kansai/200204/index.html.

If you need some advice in finding the right job, you can drop Terrie Lloyd an email for more advice at terrie.lloyd@daijob.com. You can also see his weekly newsletter, called Terrie’s Take, at http://www.terrielloyd.com/terries-take/