I’ve noticed a trend among the students who start out in translation services more of them are interested in working direct with clients right off the bat. Typically, these are students who know that their language skills are solid but limited experience in a dealing with the professional companies.
In my mind, a translator has four core skills: language(s), writing, specialization(s), and business skills. In an ideal world, we’d all have those in equal measure.
I’d also theorize that there are some market factors underlying this trend. The hardest market niche to break into is the middle; the edges of the market are easier. And in our industry (my take here…feel free to disagree), the edges are huge agencies, which base their hiring primarily or even exclusively on their own tests, and direct clients, who will trust that you can do what you say you can do. In the middle, you’re mostly looking at small to medium agencies (www.surreytranslation.co.uk), which often, and understandably, have barriers to entry such as three to five years’ experience, ATA certification or a Master’s in translation, and thus are not a great option for people with solid skills but not much experience.