Getting Started in Freelance Translation

By Slava
Aug 26, 2009 · 3 min
There are a surprising amount of people who discard their childhood dreams of becoming a cowboy, a policeman, a fireman, a pilot, an astronaut, or a doctor in order to get started in a freelance career in human translation service. Granted, not many children want to become a translator or diplomat from the get go—much less a freelance one—but after they reach a certain age, they quickly realize the perks and the benefits of this career that they were too young to even dream about a few decades or so earlier. Many jobseekers are raring to get a freelance professional translation career for a multitude of motivations and reasons. While there are innumerable native speakers who are fully skilled at becoming freelance translators themselves, there are pitfalls and perils that stop them from achieving their true potential in the professional translation industry. Getting started with a career in the translation service domain can be very challenging, but it's not altogether impossible. Reasons to Get a Freelance Translation CareerIf you're fluent in two or more languages, then the sky's the limit for you and your budding translation service career. The latest American Translators Association survey on compensation reports that the normal, self-employed freelance translator working full-time in America typically earns about $50,000 annually, and that's with most of his translation work done over the Internet. The obvious benefits of this job are as follows: being able to work at home, having a hold of your own schedule, not having a demanding boss breathing down your neck, and not needing to travel to and from an office. Moreover, it's a lucrative business for those who want a mobile career or live in places where there are no well-paying jobs for professional translators. Translation Tips and Tricks for the Beginning TranslatorHere are the following tips and tricks you can use in order to not blow your opportunity at getting a rewarding, profitable, and fully manageable job in human translation:
  • Translate Everything: A common rookie mistake for many a freelancer is being picky about jobs. Since you're a freelancer, you mustn't be choosy of your clients or subject matter, save for instances where there's a preliminary bidding process involved. Furthermore, since this isn't a regular job, you need to market yourself as versatile and constantly available.
  • Portfolio Compilation: What better way to market yourself and your skills than a portfolio? An excellent CV (curriculum vitae) highlights your strengths and provides employers a good idea of your translation range and versatility. Pick and put up your very best work (particularly those that emphasize your unique style and professionalism above all else) and take time in selecting the former employers you want to include in your resume (specifically those who will speak highly of your aptitude to other clients).
  • Train Frequently: Don't do just one thing at a time. If you're good at translating English to Japanese scripts and vice-versa, then do all jobs related to that skill of yours. Learn to translate various text and correspondences at a moment's notice. Also, you must expect to spend a lot of time reading through bilingual dictionaries in order to sharpen your linguistic proficiency and avoid getting rusty in between jobs.

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Oct 3, 2016 · 3 min

The translation industry is a relatively small one but it’s also a highly competitive one. Basically, do your research on a translation agency prior to making initial contact and it will certainly pay off; perhaps not immediately because there may not be any work available at the time, so just be patient. Your application must stand out above the rest, and by following these simple steps you should have no problem whatsoever in achieving your translation goals.