A couple months ago I exchanged a few messages on Facebook with a JET friend of mine who I keep in loose touch with. Our time in Hyogo overlapped for a couple of years and we hung out now and then with mutual friends. These days she's working as a professional Spanish to English translator in Ireland, and I was picking her brain a little about her experiences with and leading up to that, as I see J>E translation as a definite possibility on my horizon.
Fast forward to last week. She sent me a brief message that an old college friend of hers who's now working at a translation agency was looking for someone to translate a Japanese article to English and that she'd like to put us in touch. I agreed and thanked her, and was on my way to my first paid translation gig.
Ultimately over the course of about a week I wound up doing one translation and proofing another assigned to someone else. I don't know if the agency will contact me again to see if I'd like to do more work from them, but if so I'm going to decline for now.
I'm really grateful that I have that experience under my belt. Provided I can reach the right point and attract enough business, I could see myself being content or maybe even happy doing that kind of work. At this point, though, it's just not time effective, and I don't think my abilities are quite where they need to be. The translation was about 1800 words (roughly two pages of Japanese text) and it took me about 12 or so hours to translate and finetune it. And I had to ask some people for help with a few tricky sentences (didn't help that the article was written with some strange grammar, as a couple of my Japanese coworkers pointed out).
They sent me the final, proofed versions of the articles this morning. They made some minor changes to the article I did, mostly playing with wording, and they did take some of the editing suggestions I made for the other piece. I'm not sure how long it'll be before I'm able to consider doing translation as a career, but I'd say this particular job was a valuable experience and a success. And the extra money this month won't hurt, either.