When I started working as a freelance translator five years ago, I didn’t know anything about the translation industry and I wasn’t sure if I was able to make a full income working from home. I had no idea that after sending out my CVs, job offers would come rolling in like a tsunami.
I have been in love with foreign languages ever since I lived in the US with my parents when I was a child. As a child, you suck up a foreign language like a sponge.
After only 4 months, no one believed anymore that I was really German. I was going to an American elemantary school from 9am to 4pm and was surrounded by Americans all day long. This is the best and most efficient way to learn a language. As a child, learning is so much easier. When you are an adult and you want to learn a language, it takes you many years to master it and a lifetime to lose your accent.
Back in Germany, I learnt French and Spanish at school. When I was in college, I decided to go study in France. After internships and study programs in Paris, Nice and Avignon, I had a good French speaking and writing level. It was clear that in view of my international background, I was destined to work with languages and one of the options I had was working as a translator.
In 2010, I decided to go to Argentina to learn Spanish, get to know a foreign culture and travel through South America. Eventually, this is where my career as a freelance translator began.
In 2010, I registered on the website TranslatorsCafe. This website is great and my number 1 source when it comes to finding translation jobs online. The website allows you to upload your CV, state your rates per language combination, choose a profile picture and describe your specializations as well as the services you offer (besides translation you can offer subtitling, editing, interpreting, localization, transcriptions, etc.). You can also rate agencies and receive feedback which is displayed on your profile for agencies and companies who might be interested in working with you. The greatest feature of this website is the translation job board. On a daily basis, translation jobs with your language combinations are posted and you can contact the agencies or the person that placed the ad by sending them your CV and enquiring about the details of the job and whether or not it is still available. I have found numerous jobs on this website and many times, the agencies kept contacting me after I had completed a first translation for them. You can establish long-lasting contractual relationships with agencies and clients without paying a dime. There is no need to upgrade your membership. Upgrading your membership will give you some advantages such as a top placement on the site and Google and access to jobs for Master members, amongst other things. The membership costs USD 40 for 3 months, USD 70 for 6 months and USD 110 for 12 months. I have never benefited from an upgraded membership however and I was still able to get numerous translation jobs. If you have money left over, you might consider upgrading it but in any other case, it is not necessary.
A great agency I found through Translatorscafe is Transperfect Translations which is the biggest translation agencies in the world. It is based in New York and has 75 subsidiaries worldwide. The agency offers translations, localizations and other language services. I worked for the agency for 2 years and they kept providing me with jobs on a daily basis. I was able to make a full income only by working for them. They pay regularly and through Paypal or check. They have strict deadlines though and that can really stress you out. Usually you don’t have a lot of time to complete translations and you are constantly under time pressure. For those of you out there who can work well under pressure, this is the right agency for you. You can apply here.
Another trustworthy translation agency is Gengo. After signing up, you need to complete a translation test for the language combination you choose and wait for their internal professional translators to review it. If you are successful, you can start working for them as a translator. In my experience, jobs are usually small which means you don’t have to translate a lot of words. There are some exceptions when you have to translate more than just a couple of sentences but deadlines are also short and you need to be able to work fast. You can work your way up from a Standard translator to a Pro translator. Once you pass the standard test you can take on regular jobs. You need to pass the Pro test to take on jobs that are better paid and the proofreading test to take on proofreading jobs. Payment starts with USD 0.03 per word which is the minimum of the industry. However, you can earn more as a Pro translator.
Capita Translation and Interpreting
Last but not least, Capita Translation and Interpreting, a language services company from great Britain, is a large agency which can provide you with jobs regularly once you have proven your knowledge and expertise to them. Translations are well paid and deadlines are usually feasible. If you want to join their team of freelance translators, you can send your CV to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Protranslating is a widely recognized, international translation agency based in Florida. I have been working for them for the past 3 months and I must say that they are extremely pleasant to work with. The project managers are very nice, they have a constant work flow, they provide a personalized training of their online translation software (which means you don't even have to purchase an expensive software), their invoicing procedure is very professional and payments are punctual. I can highly recommend them.
Purchasing Translation Software
If you are considering working as a full-time freelance translator, you should also consider purchasing a translation software. Wordfast was the first translation software that I purchased for about 300 Euros about three years ago. To start off, it is a great and low priced software. It is easy to use and gives you many advantages. You can work faster, more efficiently and the programs deal with repetitions so that you don’t have to translate the same phrase twice. Other translators work with Trados. It is much more complex and also more expensive but those translators with many years of experience couldn't imagine life without this software anymore. Some agencies will ask you to work with Trados but others are more flexible and let you use whichever translation software you have.
Good luck on your translation career!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Adeshola Virgile on July 11, 2020:
I'm new here. I've read carefully the article. My hope is to strengthen my translator's skill while working with the agencies listed.
Lill Thingvold on April 23, 2019:
Excellent article. It was very helpful. I just starting as a remote translator. I am a native Norwegian speaker so unfortunately, there is no a lot of demand for Norwegian English English Norwegian translation work that does not involve creating website content. Hopefully, I will be able to find other types of translation jobs based on the agencies you mentioned in your article.
Diana on January 07, 2019:
Thank you so much for this article. It was really helpful. I just had a few questions. First of all, is it then possible to make a living off translating? And second, do you recommend working with multiple agencies at once, or is it better to focus solely on one at a time?
joykangero on May 22, 2018:
I am well experinced in swahili to english /english to swahili tanslation
Mohammed Abo-arrijal on April 25, 2018:
thank you so much for this article, it has been a great help.
Cristina on February 28, 2018:
WOw, great resources! I knew some of them, but the rest are new to me!
Barns on December 12, 2017:
Your advice actually got me into the business after lots or research didn´t lead me anywhere. So a big fat thanks for that! :-)
Marwan samara on November 06, 2017:
I am ready to translate from Arabic to English and from English to Arabic. I have Experience about 20 years.
Martina on August 08, 2017:
Hi, im from Argentina and this information was really useful and i think cleared up some doubts
kenny on July 29, 2017:
How are you, Thanks for the great ideas you representing in this article which will helps in getting extra job at home. I am a sixty years old ( retiring in few months), holding a doctorate degree in biology from the state of NY, lived in NY for 20 years ( got married to American and hade a very good business in NY ). Do you think I have the ability or the chance to be a good translator. By the way, a rabic is my native language.
Nkwain Killian Tubuo on July 04, 2017:
I can't thank you enough. As a budding translator, I find your article quite rich and helpful.
Emad on June 25, 2017:
Hi looking for job as translator
Mauricio on February 20, 2017:
I was laid off 5 months ago and has been particularly difficult to get back into the job market, especially now that I hit 50! As a college student and working in the marketing and advertising fields for LATAM I was always responsible for the translation, adaptation, localization and proofreading of all content and marketing campaigns from English to Spanish. I never thought of doing freelance work, but find it very exciting. Pro translating seems like a great way to start. Maybe this is my career change! Thank you for all the great tips provided.
Karina S. on December 31, 2016:
I don´t agree with the comment on PROZ. I am a professional translator and have found lot of great jobs there. I worked for Transperfect but, as you said, deadlines are too tight. I also worked for transpanish.biz, payment is average but super fast!
Junjie Hong on December 29, 2016:
Hi, Jenifer ! Thanks for your sharing !
I would like to apply for a translation work working at home.
I am an university student and I am studying.
My intention is Transperfect, this position.
Do they require some qualifications? My English skill is very excellent, but I do not have some specific certificate to support my capacity for that job. I am from China, I would like to do the translation pair from English to Chinese.
How should I do to be hired? I need your guidance, please!
abass rix on December 26, 2016:
English arabic translater ten years
carole major on November 06, 2016:
i am in Cameroon. can i register too without limitations , due to countries restrictions. i have a very good Spanish, french and English level for translation.
diallo Mamadou Dian on October 27, 2016:
Hi am really glad to be part of this work
Narasimhulu on October 02, 2016:
Sir, Namaste, Narasimhulu Spanish Translator.I would like to work from home as a Spanish Translator.I don't know how to following concern Indian Agencies. So please give me all details.thank you sir.With Regard.Narasimhulu.
Ibrahim Varlik on September 24, 2016:
Thanks for information and advices. It was really helpfull.
SWJ007 on September 14, 2016:
Jennifer, I'm a bit puzzled at how a full time translator has the time to be writing so many paid blog articles. Sounds like the translation business isn't going as well as this article claims. You are the first person I have heard of claiming to be a professional translator, yet recommending some of these agencies and web sites. If you are a real FULL TIME translator earning a normal white collar salary, I suggest talking to other REAL full time translators. Very typically, Proz.com is described as a garbage site used by amateur want-to-be translators who have no idea what the going rates are. Similarly, do a keyword search Online on Transperfect and some other bottom-feeding agencies you list, and you will find tons of complaints by unpaid or poorly paid translators. I suggest you read the Transperfect work agreement. It says that you agree to allow Transperfect to deduct any percent they see fit if they are in any way disappointed with your translation, which includes disappointed because you are charging the normal market rate for translation. This would be in violation of industry ethics, as in the American Translator Association (ATA) guidelines for agencies, but since the deduction is hardwired into all the translator agreements, Transperfect gets away with this behavior without being booted out of the ATA. Don't take my word for it. Meet face to face with some real professional full time translators and hear what they say about some of these companies and web sites.
TV on August 13, 2016:
Do you need to be specialized in a particular field, such as law or medicine, in order to work for the websites you mentioned?
ADELINA on August 09, 2016:
Hi there i am a profesor of english language i can translate from english to albanian croatian..i would like to work from home as translator
mohammed Abdulrahman mansour on August 06, 2016:
I am a retired English secondary stage teacher in UAE, Ajman.I had been teaching for 24 years. Now , I would like to work from home as a freelance translator.I hold a certificate in translation from Syria. I have experience in marine translation, I have translated pages for Green Cover in Oman,Muscat.
I am ready to translate one page of any field as a proof of my competency and proficiency .Thank you.
Mags Coetzer on August 02, 2016:
thanks fro sharing. I approached TransPerfect, and thez immdiatelz got back to me. May I add an online agency: One Hour Translation. I have been working exclusively for them for 2 months, and have earned good money. If you accept a job, you need to deliver immediately, i.e. they give you a deadline on acceptance. However, there is no expectation to accept a job, it's your choice. You can have a look at each job before accepting. They are very supportive, and polite. I really feel like I am a valued member of an international team. This is indeed that way things will be hanle in the future. More online work, less formal employment. It's great to read about the experience others have had, and share them. Spread the love! xx Mags
Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on July 28, 2016:
Thank you very much for the translation leads. I will check some of them out.
Fio on July 26, 2016:
Andrea on June 04, 2016:
Do you know of any other similar websites? My language set is translating Spanish to English, but I find that most of these sites do not need this language pair (perhaps too many applicants?). Where have you had the best luck using your Spanish?
salah Hamid on May 31, 2016:
Actually this very very good supporting translaters to promote thier skills -- thank you very match f.
Idayu on May 21, 2016:
Very good and helpful info. Thanks for sharing :)
salam on July 07, 2015:
very useful... i am looking for a translator job Arabic to english
keturi on April 20, 2015:
Thanks so much for sharing!! I really ppreciate your valuable advices
Hezekiah from Japan on April 09, 2015:
Cool hub. I was thinking of doing this for Japanese / English
Lisa Alarcon on February 13, 2015:
Hi, Jenny! I´m definitely very inspired by your article and am currently hunting around for (ANY) interpreting, proofreading or freelance translator jobs...Ironically, I´m a US expat living in Argentina and I read your blog about your life in Argentina! Pretty cool! Thanks for the peppy info...I too, have a degree, but I´m not a translator. I hope to find success, though! I´ve been teaching English privately and for small institutes here and want to try something else...Thanks again...! ;)
hypnodoctor on February 10, 2015:
It helps to be fluent in two or more popular languages like English, French, Spanish, Chinese and so on. It's much harder, at least for online translating jobs, if you know "smaller" languages. But an interesting read nonetheless. Interesting Hub, thank you.
Karel Kosman from Prague, Czech Republic on December 23, 2014:
Nice article Jennifer. Living in the country you translate from definitely helps. I moved back to the Czech Republic after communism and it took me about a year before I could raise my Czech above baby Czechglish. Now my biggest client is Transperfect and I am finally getting good rates. I particularly like this profession because it gives me the freedom to travel around the world while working.
Katherine on December 20, 2014:
Hello! First, Thank you for this article!! It's so good and helpful. I really want to give this a chance.. I just feel lost on what is the first step I should take in order to start working as a translator. Any suggestion?
monia ben saad from In my Dream on November 08, 2014:
well done hub and i's very interesting to me because i'm freelancer and i work in translation and i'm happy to know all that informations
Igor on August 24, 2014:
Hi Jennifer, I am Igor from Peru and I am looking for a full-time spanish job translator. Please could you tell me how much do you average monthly doing this job translations?? My email is igorverona @ gmail.com, waiting for your reply.
Prince Edike from Philippines on April 20, 2014:
Thanks for this informative and interesting hub. Well done.
alister on April 02, 2014:
Hi Jennifer, i am a half chinese and half american, and currently i was trying to look for an on line translation job for some extra cash, but saw a lot of scam or fraud, some of them even ask for fees to sign up. do you have any tip or any real trusted company that i could apply from? thanks for your help in advance.
Jennifer Madison (author) from Lohmar on January 15, 2014:
I am glad I could help, I had the same questions about 5 years ago but luckily the internet offers multiple opportunities for translators. Good luck! :)
Kei on January 15, 2014:
Thank you so much for this article! I'm bilingual in English and Japanese and trying to go to grad school for translation, but might not be able to afford it this time around.
I'm looking for back-up plans that will help me work towards my goals and keep up my language skills, and you've given me some hope!
Jennifer Madison (author) from Lohmar on January 08, 2014:
I added another agency that offers regular work called ProTranslating. More info is in my article.
Arianna on January 08, 2014:
Thank you for the kindness and quickness :) I'll definitely use some of this websites!
Jennifer Madison (author) from Lohmar on January 07, 2014:
Hi Arianna, I have worked for all of these websites and I don't possess a degree in translation. So yes, it is possible. They might ask you to do a translation test to assess your skills though.
Arianna on January 07, 2014:
Do you think this sites can be good for freelancers who don't have a bachelor's degree and don't have a CV to show? I recently decided to leave university and study autonomously (personal reasons, not just laziness), but I don't have much experience yet. I found some jobs on Freelancers.com, but I'd like to try other sites.
Hannah on June 17, 2013:
Thanks Jennifer, this post has given me loads of useful information about what to do once i'm set up to work!
Ps. The 'G' in Great Britain should be a capital - it's a name. Although most people would say 'from the UK' or 'based in Britain'. No-one really says Great Britain anymore :-) (Sorry, i'm English!)
Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on May 24, 2013:
Interesting article and how wonderful that you can do these translations! I only learned Spanish in high school, but not enough to where I could translate.
Jeffery on May 03, 2013:
This post was very useful.
Jennifer Madison (author) from Lohmar on April 23, 2013:
I am glad it helped you Bydojo, and good luck with your translation work. There is a lot of work out there and many agencies are looking for talented translators so start sending out your applications and send out many to increase your chances of getting a freelancer position.
Ramona Jar from New York on April 23, 2013:
Excellent advice. I could do some translation work myself and this info really comes at the right time. Thanks for sharing it.
Caturrus on April 04, 2013:
Thanks Jennifer. It's very useful
Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on September 17, 2012:
Thanks for the information about Chinese translators, Jennifer. I will check out TranslatorsCafe for sure.
Jennifer Madison (author) from Lohmar on September 16, 2012:
Thanks Donnah, I am sure your husband can find some work on Translatorscafe, there are so many jobs posted every day. Good luck!
Jennifer Madison (author) from Lohmar on September 16, 2012:
Thanks for sharing this Penlady. You are right, online work is increasing and companies are outsourcing a lot of their work to agencies which means there is more to do for us freelancers.
Jennifer Madison (author) from Lohmar on September 16, 2012:
I am glad you found these leads helpful, Paul, there is a lot of Chinese work out there and many agencies are in need of Chinese translators. I am sure you will be able to get some jobs. On TranslatorsCafe there is a list of agencies. You can send your CV to them directly. Some of them have an application form on their website which you can fill out.
Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on September 15, 2012:
Very interesting. My husband is bilingual and may be interested in this. Thank you.
Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on September 15, 2012:
Thanks for all of these good leads toward translation work from home. I was a Chinese translator with the government for many years before retirement. I'll check out some of your leads to see if my Chinese is still any good for work. Voted up and sharing.
penlady from Sacramento, CA on September 15, 2012:
Hi Jennifer, this is an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to work at home, as so many people are today. Definitely will share with Twitter friends. Voted up, useful and tweeted.