Professional Ethics for Freelance Translation Jobs

Following certain professional ethics for freelance translation jobs is critical for you to keep in touch with the same clients and to be recommended by them. So, here there are some basic principles you will have to bear in mind before starting a translation and after delivering it to the client.



If you are entrusted with private information, do not share it with any friends, colleagues, parents, or any kind of person no matter how insistent they can be when asking about what you are working on. Any microscopic piece of information given away can bring about your termination or, worse, legal issues. So keep all the information to yourself and if you have to consult an expert because of the difficulty of the translation, let the client know first.

Do not change the meaning

Many times you will have to translate something you do not agree with, and your disagreement and your point of view, may interfere in the translation. Please do not let this happen because it is highly unprofessional and it may earn you a dismissal. If you are aware that you cannot bear what the text’s author says, try to be objective and put your views aside, at least when doing the translation.


Before agreeing with the deadline set by the client, you should know the number of words you are able to translate per hour. If you don’t know this, I advise you to test yourself and count the number of words you translate in an hour before accepting any kind of translation job. Do not agree with translating a large number of words within few days just because you really need the job. Knowing the number of words you translate per hour allows you to fix deadlines you will be able to meet. 

You cannot go backwards

If you have already accepted a translation job and eventually you find out that it is too difficult, that you have not enough time, that you have to be an expert in order to translate it or that you simply don’t like it, you cannot step back. The timeline you agree to when translating a job is like signing a contract you would have to follow. That is why you have to fully read the text before accepting the job and see if you are familiarize with the text’s topic and if you will be able to translate it within a logical time.

Be responsible for what you translate

Whenever you translate something wrong, you have to be held responsible for that. In those cases, the client will probably be angry with you, so you will have to pacify him by offering to redo the translation or, if it is a huge mistake, by a compensation of some kind. Sending the translation to the client does not mean that your work is over. You will have to face eventual mistakes and errors you may have made, and you have to be responsible for that.