How to Make Money as a Translator and Work from Home
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!