@ 72 - Lena, think about it for a second: Translating must have some appeal as a career, or no one would ever do it. We're not all masochists, although many of us did sort of stumble into it. :-)
Flexible working hours
Freedom to turn down uninteresting work
Opportunity to apply language skills
Working with others who are interested in language and writing
Ongoing learning process
Pay comparable to that of other professionals (unlike, say, writers and teachers, who are generally poorly paid)
Client education can be a real drag
Difficulty unplugging from work, especially with clients and colleagues in different time zones
Isolation (for freelancers)
Entry-level translation can be unappealing
Keeping up with different languages can be frustrating; it's certainly a daunting task
Running after the money is a chore
For freelancers, self-employment in general (taxes, health insurance, etc.)
Here's what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has to say about it:http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos175.htm
The BfA has an exhaustive overview, too, but the link to the most interesting parts is really long. You can start here:http://berufenet.arbeitsagentur.de/berufe/sta...
Some other sites that come up fast on Google:http://www.careeroverview.com/interpreter-car...http://careerplanning.about.com/od/occupation...
Don't forget that the discussion is biased: what you're perceiving as horror stories are the things that someone was frustrated enough to write about. Nobody's going on and on for pages about having had a good week!