A day in the life of a translator

Apologies to everyone who has written to me lately and is still waiting for an answer; things have been very hectic here at Naked Translations Headquarters, as they always are before Christmas. One e-mail kept my attention, however, because it asked a question which is very easy to answer: what is an average day for a translator?
The answer is: there is no such thing. To demonstrate why, I will compare three Thursdays, last week’s, this week’s and next week’s.
Thursday 1 December
8:30am: get up
9am: watch Frasier
9:30am: walk to the office (the long way, via the seafront)
10:15am: arrive at the office, chat for a bit, check my email, read the news
10:45am: go to the gym
Midday: back in the office, translate
1pm: lunch + scrabble
2pm: translate
4pm: go out for a walk on the beach, bank, post office, do a bit of Christmas shopping
5pm: back at the office, reply to a few emails, send a quote for a new job
5:30pm: go home
Thursday 8 December
6:30am: get up
7:30am: translate
10:45am: go to the gym
Midday: lunch + read the papers
12:30: translate
7pm: go home
(ok, that was a lie – I was planning on working until 7pm, but by 5pm, I had had enough and went for a drink with a friend. But I should have worked until 7pm. And now on Friday morning, it’s 7am and I’m writing this instead of working. When will I learn?)
Thursday 15 December
7:30am: get up
9am: meet French and English clients and start an all-day interpreting job
10:30pm: go home
So you see, there is no average day, and this is possibly what I love most about my job. You never quite know what the day, let alone the week, is going to bring. Of course this requires adapting constantly to varying circumstances, which really suits my character. I can’t imagine doing the same thing, and the same hours, every single day (although I wouldn’t mind the regular paychecks and the sick pay), and I LOVE being able to decide what jobs I will and won’t take on. Freedom, I think it’s called.

By | 2016-10-18T15:50:37+00:00 December 9th, 2005|Freelance Translation|6 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. may December 9, 2005 at 1:29 pm

    i definately agree with you celine, the fact that life is fairly unpredictable as a translator is an extremely attractive aspect of the job. thats one of the main reasons i’ve chosen to pursue it.
    but about what you said regarding regular paychecks and sick leave…do all translators just commit to being poor relative to their friends right at the get go (all my friends are in finance or medicine!)…and please tell me that at some point being a translator will pay my bills (so i can reassure my mother!).

  2. céline December 9, 2005 at 1:43 pm

    I know there’s a perception out there that translators live on the breadline and have to have a second job to survive, but I earn a good living, by any standard. I think provided you’re good at what you do, you can earn as much as your high-flying friends, possibly for less stress and more fun.

  3. Interpreter December 11, 2005 at 9:00 pm

    Hi Céline,
    I like your blog and plan to read more. I´ve been surfing around looking for interpreter/translator blogs and very few exist. I started my own very recently. Would you mind if I linked to yours?

  4. céline December 14, 2005 at 6:58 am

    A new interpreter’s blog! Yippee! Great start, can’t wait to read the rest. And of course, link away. I’ll give you a nod in my next entry (if I ever find the time to blog again).

  5. Jemima December 14, 2005 at 8:31 am

    If you ever find the time to blog again?! I can’t believe you’d say such a thing at the end of an entry that admits to Frazier, strolling on the beach, browsing the papers etc. (Obviously, I’m ignoring the hard work suggested by the other days…)

  6. marie December 15, 2005 at 6:09 am

    bonjour celine, je suis marie, etudiante en LEA a l’université d’Evry avec “la” celine qui vous a envoyé un mail en vous demandant quelle etait la journée type pour une interprète…
    j’ai eu envie de vous contacter tout de suite, de plus elle m’a dit que vous aviez eté egalement sous titreuse?
    je suis interéssée par le domaine de la traduction audiovisuelle et voudrais savoir quel parcours scolaire convient le mieux, est ce que ce metier est vraiment en crise, et quels sont les conseils que vous auriez pour moi?…
    je vous remercie beaucoup d’avance de preter attention a mon long mail, bonne journée a vous, a bientot 🙂

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