How to Start a Career as a Freelance Translator

A freelance translator works with translation agencies or directly with clients to provide language translation services. The translation industry is as competitive as any other, and if you intend to start out as a freelance translator it can get all the more complicated.

What You Need To Start?

As a translator you are required to be proficient in at least two languages. It always helps to complete a translation course from a good institution. Although a certification is not mandatory, obtaining a certification from American Translators Association increases your chances of getting work. This is important because big business clients prefer to employ only certified translators.

Where to Start?

It is advisable that you align yourself with an accessible translation agency. Translation agencies are cautious when employing the services of inexperienced translators. They tread with caution since they are unsure of whether the freelancer can stick to deadlines, consistently provide quality work, make the appropriate references while heeding to the rules and disciplines. To tackle this issue, most translation agencies have a trial period during which they closely assess the work of the translators. Translation agencies usually accept applications only from experienced translators in order to avoid problems.

More often than not, it is difficult to get through to business clients directly. And if you do, you’ll realize that the businesses prefer to outsource their service to a translation agency for a number of reasons. Thus, it is advisable that you start work as a salaried employee at a translation agency until you have enough experience and confidence. It will also enable you to build credibility for yourself which will give you the recognition you will need when you start off as a freelance translator.

How to Grow?

Once you have the necessary education, certification and work experience, it is important to network and market your skills and experience. It is ideal to begin work as a freelance translator by taking up part time projects. It may seem redundant, but do not take on more work than you can handle and do not over commit on what you can deliver.

It is important to remember that as a freelancer you also have non-translation responsibilities such as marketing and networking, billing and collections, accounting and at times updating your device. The expenses involved with freelancing might seem huge at first, to buy your own computer, maintain updated dictionaries, memberships to various associations; however, be smart and look out for ways where you can use this to your economic advantage. Taking advantage of the tax reductions for business related expenses is one way of availing the benefits of being a freelance translator.

How to Succeed?

There is always scope for improvement. Keep yourself updated by what is happening in the industry and the changes that take place. It is always helpful to join an association. Last but not the least, keep your clients happy. If you ensure timely completion of your projects and produce quality work in line with the clients expectations, you will not only be assured repeat business but also stand a good chance of getting more work through references.