Questions You Ought to Ask Yourself before Embarking on a Career as Freelance Translator

A Brief Guide

Getting Started as a Freelance Translator

Questions You Ought to Ask Yourself before Embarking on a Career as Freelance Translator

  • Do you have any language qualifications apart from being a native speaker?
  • Do you have any experience in providing translation services?
  • Do you have practical translation experience in one or more specialist areas?
  • Do you have thorough knowledge and/or practical experience in any specialist area?
  • Do you have a natural talent for writing?

    If the answer to any of the above is 'no', your chances of earning a living by being a freelance translator are limited.

    Before you make any further inquiries, try to remedy the situation. Obtain a formal translation qualification. Become an Associate member of a Translating Association such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists. Alternatively, there are numerous jobs out there that need language skills without restricting yourself to "translation only".

    Once you are qualified, if at all possible gain employment as a translator with an agency or with a company where you can put your language skills into practice. This will also help you later with your areas of specialisation. Agencies and customers expect a high level of knowledge in your chosen subject. Earning a living as freelance translator is not a soft option!

    Once you have obtained some practical experience as a translator (see also the page on how to find a work placement), you have to decide which career path you wish to take. Do you want to work as a staff translator or employed by an agency? Would it suit your personality better to work for a company that has dealings with countries in which the language/s you know is/are spoken (import/export, market research, tourism - to name but a few)? Have you got what it takes to work freelance or do you have no other option?