How to become a paid translator: jobs that pay you to translate

How to become a paid translator: jobs that pay you to translate

There is a reason you need a good old human translator even with all the machine translators, algorithms and online dictionaries available. When you know a language well, understand the culture and metaphors in both languages you know how different an idea can sound if it has been translated badly.

That is why companies will pay you to translate their texts, because you can do it better than an automatic system, and help their clients to really understand what the real essence is of what they want to say. Whether it is in English, Mandarin, French or Swedish a good translator can make a real difference.

Working as a freelance translator has the added benefit that you can work as your own boss, with the hours that suit you.

How to get started as a translator

If you want to become a translator there are a few things to do to be sure that you will be able to do the work well and build a good reputation so you can get paid what you deserve. First, it may seem obvious, but if you want to be a translator you will need to speak at least two languages fluently one of which should be your native tongue.

Your written skill in both these languages should be on the same standard so you will be able to translate texts so they have the same quality and meaning. Secondly, check out Real Translator Jobs, where you can have good jobs based on your skill. 

Linguistic skills

Even the most gifted of language learners may need to brush up on their skills. When it comes to translation, there might also be ways of working that you are not sure about or technicalities that you might not realize are a problem.

That is why doing a course in translation, can be really beneficial. There are various levels of translation and there are different qualifications you study toward to become a more professional translator.

This doesn’t mean that you necessarily need a formal education, but you need to be sure that you can do quality work if you really want to make a career out of translation.

As a translator you will be working with written texts and that means you will also need the skills that go with that. You need to be able to write well in the languages you work with, so you can see inconsistencies in the text and work quickly toward a translated text.

You can also learn from people who have been in the industry for a while and they will be able to point you in the right direction in terms of clients.

You can also learn the best strategies for working with different texts, the tricks of translating into difficult languages or how to choose clients.

Technical skills

As with anything these days, you need some technical skills to use all of the great technology available. There are some great CAT (computer assisted translating) has become a crucial component to the translation industry.

If you know how to use these tools effectively it will make your job that much easier. So your next step is to make sure that you know the tools of your trade, online dictionaries, and batch translation tools and so on, so you can do the best work possible.

Translation Memory banks are another technical tool to help translators. These databases contain sentences that often need translation.

That way you can choose from previously translated sentences and save some time and effort. You can also compare your work to work other translators have already done.

Basic typing skills will also go a long way to save you time and make you more efficient translator. The faster and more accurate your typing skills, the ore time you have to actually focus on translation rather than on just getting the words down on a page.

If you work with web based translation, some html coding knowledge will be very helpful and if you can code as well as you translate there will be great jobs open to you.  Also think about some basic business or entrepreneurial skills before you get started. That way it will be smooth sailing if you want to build a freelancing career.

The most valuable thing you can have is experience, but it takes time to gain. So be patient, you won’t go from a beginner in the industry to a top paid translator in a week.

But if you do quality work consistently and learn all that you can along the way, you will be able to build a great, flexible career. If you have a charity or nonprofit in your area, (or one you support that has a large international presence) you should be able to volunteer your services.

This is a great way to get started in translation and help a cause you believe in. It will also help you to build a portfolio of work you can use as examples for potential clients.

There are also platforms online that list clients, or freelancers so you can easily find work suited to your skills. These sites make earning easier because a lot of the administration will be handled by the site. One such platform is Real Translator Jobs.

Getting paid

As a translator you will need to stand out in a competitive market, and every detail can make a difference. It might be tempting to do low paying work to start to build a reputation, but you need to choose the right clients from the start.

Getting that first client might be difficult, but if you have some samples of your work and a few test results to back your quality it will already make you stand out. Make sure you set up a basic contract, be sure how you want to charge (either by the word or by the hour) and watch out for hidden costs.

Your earnings will vary with experience, the types of jobs you need to do, and how much experience you have. It will also be different between in-house employed translators and freelancers.

As a freelancer your earnings will also depend on how much work you can handle and how much you are willing to take on.


Hopefully you now have a clear idea about what ti takes to beome a translator so you can get paid to translate and use your language skills.

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