For expats moving to Brazil, the go-to profession is usually teaching private English lessons. This is a great option and one that will probably see a much greater demand with the World Cup and the Olympics right around the corner. When I went to Brazil, I didn't get into teaching English because I had already arranged a job as a part-time in-house translator for a Travel and Tourism company.
In addition to working with the company, I spent hours a day trying to establish myself as a freelance translator. Now, about 6 months later, I am starting to see my efforts pay off and I can really see a profitable and fulfilling career in my future. The hardest part of becoming a freelance translator is figuring out where to start. I though I would offer some of my advice and explain how I got started, for anyone who is interested in a possible career as a translator.
1) Know two (or more) languages. This is pretty obvious, but absolutely necessary. Although my Portuguese is not fluent, it is advanced enough to understand fully 99% of what I read. (For that last 1% I email the boyfriend!) Also, with any translation project you will always translate into your native language. So for me, I translate from the "Source language" (Portuguese) to my "native language" (English).
2) Do cheap or volunteer translations. My first "job" as a translator was proofreading subtitles for an independent film. It was volunteer. I then signed up with onehourtranslation.com. This company offers quick translations for companies that need expedited services. They only pay .05USD per source word (words in the original document) and .09USD per source word for expert translation (legal and technical documents). I get most of my experience and income from this site.
3) I got a wide range of translation experience through the site onehourtranslation, and I built up my resume with translation projects of legal documents, magazine articles, twitter, texts, emails, food packaging, CVs, forex, diplomas, transcripts etc... I finally had a full enough resume to feel confident sending my resume to translation agencies. I started sending my resume to 3 agencies per day, all of which I found online.
***Remember, even if you work with Port>Eng, agencies in countries other than the US/UK and Brazil/Portugal need freelance translators too.
4) Choosing a price is difficult for me. I am still shooting pretty low because of my lack of experience, but I have been able to raise my price since I started. Most companies will pay per source word, and I end up making about $20/hour-$40/hour depending on the content of the translation.
The great thing about sending your resume into so many different companies is that you will be stored in their database. Now, I receive random emails from companies that I don't even remember contacting. Work seems to be popping up all over the place now and I'm actually having to turn some people down.
The downside to translating for agencies across the world, is that if they scam you, there is not much you can do about it, except to blast them on your blog..like I am about to do:
ASHIS SHAH from language world. SCAM SCAM SCAM!!! If you get a project from this man, RUN AWAY!! May the bad karma you have acquired lead your business to failure and financial ruin. He will arrange a translation, and once you have turned it in, he will tell you that he assigned it to another translator because you didn't respond soon enough. He will blame the different time zones on the miscommunication. Then, when you turn in an agreed upon translation, he will ignore you and never pay you. SCAM SCAM SCAM!!!
If you have any questions about starting as a freelance translator, feel free to write me. I'm no expert, but I'm learning a little more each day.