A day in the life of a translation project manager

Hej readers,

If anyone who is reading this is a newbie in the world of translation or project management and wondering what a typical day is like in this job, look no further! Here is a summary of a recent day in my life as a translator and project manager working from Sweden.

7.30 – Alarm goes off… I work from home but I have to be at my desk by 9am and my partner also works in an office half an hour away so we get up and have breakfast together and get ready before he heads off and I sit at my desk (kitchen table, sofa, bed…) and get to work.

8.30 – I start work at my computer. This means I first of all log into Skype to keep in constant contact with my colleagues and into my work email account to monitor all incoming projects and requests. Normally I’ll start by going through my inbox where a couple of requests have come in already.

9.00 – Sending off a couple of translations to the client. Today I have one that’s already been done by a colleague in the US for one of our biggest clients – I write a polite email in German and attach the translation.

9.15 – Completing a brief translation from German to English for the same client and notifying my project manager so he can check and send it.

9.30 – Catching up on ongoing projects. Right now I have two huge ones going on. One from Korean to English, one from Japanese to French. Both translators have submitted a partial file to me, so I need to check through both to see if they look ok and then pass each of them to the relevant editor with strict instructions to send them back by the end of the day. I send out emails to the editors with the files attached and move on to the rest of my emails.

10.00 – Responding to emails about a new translation due Wednesday. Today I get one in from an old client we’re trying to win back, so it has to be great quality. This one is French to English so it gets assigned to me as they want a native English translator who is experienced in contracts in particular (it’s a contract about wind turbines…). It has to be done in Across which is a new CAT tool for me.

10.30 – Downloading Across and trying to figure it out. At the moment I keep being asked to use various different new tools and pieces of software so I’m frequently spending some time getting to know new CAT tools or reading guides about how to improve my usage of existing tools. I have a long back and forth with some of the IT guys about how to get up and running and to download the translation.

11.30 – An editing task comes in from a fellow translator so I take some time to look over her translation (EN-DE) and get it back to her with some small corrections.

12.00 – I’m chasing around various potential Korean editors as the one I was counting on has fallen through and the final segment of the translation is due later on. I send out at least a dozen emails, but most of the translators are in the US so I’m stuck waiting for them to wake up…

1.00 – I grab a quick lunch and take 15 minutes out to read the newspaper online since I’m waiting for a lot of emails back.

1.30 – Another Korean to English translation project comes in so I try to assign it to the previous translator. In the meantime I also send some corrections of her translation back to her to be handed in later.

3.00 – Korean translator gets back to me and says that parts of the document are in Chinese which she can’t read, so I contact a Chinese translator who agrees to translate the Chinese terms to English for us.

4.00 – I spend some time looking at the French translation due next week and getting it all ready in Across.

5.45 – finally the Japanese to French Powerpoint comes back from the editor so I give it a quick check (it’s great) and send it back to the client. Phew.

6.00 I send off the second part of the Korean translation to the client.

6.30 – Partner comes home and we have a cup of tea together.

7.00 – The Chinese words come back from the translator and I send them to the Korean translator. However at this point she decides she can’t do the work … I try to find a new translator.

7.30 –  I make a quick dinner on my own whilst keeping an eye on incoming emails.

8.30 – I pass the rest of this project on to a colleague in the US as it’s still daytime there and finish work for the day.

9.00 – I go out for a beer.

12.00 – I come home, check my emails to see if I got the Korean corrections back and then finally email them to the client.

12.30 – Bed!

How does your day shape up compared to mine? Comment below!


3 thoughts on “A day in the life of a translation project manager

  1. Hi Alexa,

    this is a really cool post and I just wanted to ask you how you got into this translating field, and what advice you would give to someone if they want to start out as well. I speak and write English fluently, French as well and Arabic and learning Korean slowly. Do I need to know more languages than this to be able to do that?

    Hope you can give me some advice,

    Love your blog & thanks a lot !



    1. Hi Lana, thanks for commenting. It’s great that you want to get into translation. I don’t think that you need to learn more languages – you can be a professional translator with just two languages. The important thing is that you have a great knowledge of those ones. Make sure you work on your writing skills in your native/target language too.

      I’d say it’s quite useful to pick a specific subject that you want to have as a specialisation and make yourself a kind of expert on that topic. It could be legal, medical or business for example. Maybe you already have an area you are interested in or have a good knowledge of?

      As for getting started, you have various options. Getting a proper qualification is very useful but not 100% required. It’s also possible to just start finding small jobs to start with, even doing translations as a volunteer for a charity just to build experience. And just go from there. What’s important is good language knowledge, good writing skills, knowledge of the subject and then building experience in translating. You might also want to look into demo versions of popular translation softwares too, as they will often be required for jobs.

      Hope it helps!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much Alexa! I have a degree in Environmental engineering but have always loved editing and proofreading and translating seems like a great career especially since I love languages. So maybe I can focus on more technical translations given my degree. Thanks a lot for your help I highly appreciate it 🙂


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