Breaking into the translation business: using online translation services – An introduction to YAQS

Today we’re featuring another guest writer, Reimer Struve from the translation company WIP Japan Corp. If you’ve ever thought about entering the translation industry but aren’t sure how to get your foot into the door, this article may be a helpful guide to one of your possible options.

You have spent years of study to master the Japanese language and are now – after having finally graduated – evaluating your options. Maybe you are thinking similarly as me, wanting to make full use of your linguistic skills, but also painfully aware that even a long study of Japanese is nothing without practice and application.

I had considered entering the translation industry, yet was not sure how to start out. Of course, you can apply directly at a translation agency, but without much credentials in the form of year-long experiences, the chances of getting any projects might be slim. Still, I applied and was offered a trial translation which I somehow managed to complete. However, it took me much longer to do the trial than would be economically viable for actual translation work, and in the end was only offered registration as freelance proofreader.

So there you have the dilemma. In order to break into the industry, you need to show expertise and experience with the process of translating text fast and efficiently. Yet, with no experience to show, no one is ready to offer you the chance to gain experience. I now know this paradox even better than before, as I am handling freelance translators’ applications at our company. Anybody less than 3 years of translating experience rarely makes it into our pool of translators.

Yet with the infrastructure available today via the internet, new opportunities have arrived, even for wordsmith apprentices interested in testing and improving their skills, or people who would like to get a first taste of what it means to be a translator. Enter YAQS (for the Japanese yakusu 訳すto translate), the online platform that directly matches customers and translators, launched by translation agency WIP Japan in November 2010. As of now, YAQS is handling Japanese to English and English to Japanese translation (although adding Chinese is next on the agenda). Customers charge their accounts and load up the texts they would like to have translated. Registered translators then receive a notification about a new project available. Whoever accepts the project first gets to work on it. Translation can be done offline and then uploaded, or done directly in the online interface. Payment is processed via PayPal.

Here you do not have to hand in a CV to apply. Simply register and undertake a trial translation. Your translation will be reviewed within about a month and according to your ability you will be classified into “casual”, “standard”, or “pro”. These ranks reflect the level of payment, the difficulty of the texts to be translated as well as the quality the customer expects. So even if you are inexperienced as a translator but do have (some) knowledge of Japanese, your chances are good to enter at the “casual” level. Project texts would be mostly be of small volume, many being product descriptions of e-commerce sites (which mainly used machine translations so far), but also short letters, or basically anything which “needs a human hand” instead of “quick and dirty” machine translations.

Although payment rates on the “casual” level (1.5yen/ Japanese character) do not suffice to make a living, it offers the invaluable chance to get a foot into the translation industry and start gaining experience. Over time (usually around a year, given that you work on at least one project a day on average), you will get routine and improve your skills, ready to advance onto the next level (increasing rates to 4yen, finally to 9/Japanese character) and also be able to advertise “the word count under your belt” when applying elsewhere. Also, as noted, e-commerce related texts make up the bulk of project texts, so right from the beginning you can have the reward of seeing your own work online!

For anyone interested in registering and giving YAQS a try, please see below:

Please go to the URL below for free registration and login (in Japanese only). Once registered you can undertake a small trial translation (uncompensated).

Upon passing the trial you will then be able to respond to uploaded translation requests and start earning. (Please note that YAQS requires a PayPal account in order to conduct payments for any translations made.)

If you would first like to know more about YAQS, please refer to the URLs below (in Japanese only).

-FAQ for translators

-Terms of service

-Privacy Policy

About the author:

Reimer Struve is currently working for WIP Japan Corp as translation coordinator. WIP Japan Corp has 15 years of experience in the translation industry and one of the ten biggest translation companies in Japan. He made it into the translation business by sending applications to numerous Japanese translation agencies, finally getting accepted at WIP Japan as an intern (an unusual way to enter a Japanese company, where internships are still mostly unheard of).

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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4 Responses to Breaking into the translation business: using online translation services – An introduction to YAQS

  1. Pingback: Breaking into the translation business: using online translation services | JapanLike

  2. Pingback: FAQ: The content of “What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?” | What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?

  3. Sam says:


    I am currently a casual translator for this site. Do you know how to go up the ranks? I cannot take another test and I am wondering if it is a case of once I complete a certain amount of translation work I can gain access to higher level work…


  4. Pingback: Resource: Translation Workshops | What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?

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