Basic Technical Equipment for your Home Office

Suggestions on How to Become Established as a Freelance Translator

Here is a list of the basic technical equipment for the home office of a freelance translator. It may look rather obvious but the important thing are the details: Yes, of course you need an Internet connection. But is it fast and reliable? Do you need CAT tools?

  • WiFi with the highest broadband speeds and usage limits you can afford. It also needs to be reliable in speed and availability of service. You will be spending a lot of time with online research and much of that is now in video format. Ask others for advice as Internet service providers (ISPs) vary considerably in price and service level.
  • Answer phone. If you're using a landline phone make sure you have a professional outgoing message.
  • PC or Mac, as fast and with the biggest hard drive you can afford. You will be amazed how quickly your drive fills up. New translation related software packages require plenty of space. Also look out for plenty of RAM, so you can research on the Internet and run various applications concurrently. If your budget allows it, do invest in a bigger than the standard 14" screen, it will make your work easier. It can also be helpful to have two monitors side by side to avoid having to work with split screens.
  • Software: Microsoft Office is used by most agencies; Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools like Trados or MemoQ are now often a requirement if you are working on larger projects. They are also used by most translators as a day-to-day translation aid as they improve productivity and serve as your very own offline dictionary.
  • CAT Tool. See also Working with CAT tools.
  • Email address: Your email address needs to look professional and your address provider must be reliable and emails easily accessible. Some email addresses have become so popular that they are now not easily accessible and seem to have constant problems.
  • Printer. Check out the prices of cartridges and the availability of refills, before buying a "cheap" printer. It may prove anything but...

Naturally, the list of useful items can be greatly expanded, e.g. by a wider variety of software, a scanner and a satellite dish for receiving TV channels in your mother tongue. You should have some good basic dictionaries in your specialist fields but most translators now do all of their terminology research online. However, in my opinion, the above list represents the bare essentials for an efficient home office.