En español | Working from home has a nice ring to it. You can't argue with the commute to an office off the kitchen. The freedom to set your own hours is a real carrot.
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For Carlos D. Romo, Ph.D., 67, working as a translator-interpreter and mediator has allowed him to tap into a language he loves – Spanish. As a child, it was the language spoken in his remote hometown of Mora, N.M.
The Reno, Nev., resident retired three years ago from his administrator post at a local community college. When he stepped out of the day-to-day fray, he knew he wanted to keep doing something. Taking on translating assignments that could be done from his home office was a no-brainer. "It's in my blood," Romo says. "I knew there was a need, and I wanted to put my skills and passion to good use."
The groundwork was in place. He began his career as an Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of Nevada, Reno. Although he spent the bulk of his career working in various positions for the state of Nevada, ranging from Administrator of the State Youth Services Division to Assistant Administrator for the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, he was careful about keeping up his language skills. (Romo is also fluent in Portuguese, a language whet during his days as a Fulbright-Hayes scholar in Lisbon, Portugal).
Because of the large Spanish-speaking population where he lives, Romo communicates with others in Spanish almost daily. Also, during his day-job years, he taught evening Spanish classes at the local community college in topics ranging from Spanish for travelers to Spanish for medical professionals.
When he decided to tap into the market for translators, he began by marketing his services the old-fashion way, word of mouth. "We've been in the community for 39 years, so people know me," Romo says. He listed his background and contact information with the Language Bank at the Northern Nevada International Center. The bank provides translation and interpretation services in over 60 languages to businesses and organizations.
The variety of work keeps it interesting. From the comfort of his home computer, he has translated workplace safety manuals and brochures for Spanish-speaking employees of area businesses from casinos to hospitals.
Other freelance assignments require that he venture out. Local lawyers hire him to help Spanish-speaking individuals who need simultaneous translation. As a mediator in job discrimination cases and community-related issues, for example, Romo translates from English to Spanish or Portuguese, and vice versa. He has worked as a translator with the local school district, which employs him to teach English as a second language to Spanish-speaking parents.
In general, the pay swings as widely as the assignments, ranging from $50 to $120 an hour. "If it's a nonprofit, I simply say ‘how much can you pay?' One of my impetuses for working in retirement is to give back to the community," Romo says. "This is one way I can do that. If I'm asked to be in court for an indigent pro bono, I'm there."
The flexibility of the work allows Romo to pick and choose projects, which allows him and his wife Nancy, 65, to travel, spend time with their grandchildren, and devote time to community and church volunteer projects. They also devote time to AARP's Ambassador program in Reno.