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Friday, February 26, 2010

How to Become a Freelance Translator

The freelance translation industry is booming. More and more full-time employees are leaving their present jobs to go ahead with their passion of freelance. So when we hear of this term ‘Freelance Translator’, a bubble of curiosity bursts inside. What is it? What are the skills required for it? What are the pays like? How to become successful in it? These are some of the questions which immediately pop up in our mind with the mention of ‘Freelance Translator’.
So who can become a Freelance Translator? Well, technically speaking, anyone can become a freelance translator. All one needs is a successfully completed translation training program at higher professional education or university level. Also, sometimes it is required to get your degree certified. In the US, there is an
American Translators Association whose certification is a requisite to get a particular project/task. Also, if you are serious about your passion as a translator, you should join one of the local hands of the American Translators Association. This association has a wide network and can readily help you in getting the type of job/project you require.
Next, how can you get a freelance translator job? Well, entering into the freelance sector of translation is not easy. So it is always advisable to join an all-translation agency and gain practical experience for a few years. What happens at these agencies is that you work under a senior translator. So you do the work of translation and your senior checks it, highlights your strengths and weaknesses and monitors your overall progress. Also, under the senior you will get to do variety of work and will have ready help available if you are stuck anywhere. In case you cannot find an agency ready to offer you a job, apply for the position of an unpaid trainee. Although many agencies are full, they can always afford to recruit a trainee who can work in an emergency. After getting an experience for 3-4 years, you can start applying on the internet or through classifieds for freelance translator jobs. Initially you will only get part time contracts having a small duration. But if you maintain your commitments as well as quality of work, long term projects are not very far.
After addressing two questions above, let us move to another important question- What is the pay like in the freelance job? Here again, technically speaking, the pay is equal to that of full time salaried employment. But wait! Yes, patience is what is required in this field. Just like you did not start earning your current level of salary from day one, you won’t earn hundreds of dollars in your first project itself. What you have to realize that you are undergoing a major career change and that you have to build your new career. Start with low paying projects. Try and hold on to your current employment. If you are not able to do that, be ready to face a major setback on your life savings. But if you focus, work hard and deliver quality work, be rest assured that the cycle will change. And going by the market averages, it takes 2 years of dedicated effort to reach that desired level of salary with freelancing.
And now the last question- Are there any tips to be successful in this field? Well, there are no hard and fast rules. But a few tips can always be shared which have helped others on their way up. The first tip has already been shared above. Join an association. Their wide contacts are bound to help you. Also the interactions with other freelancers, some of whom are far more experienced than you, will always come in handy. Never miss such opportunities. Secondly, once you start getting good business as a freelancer, don’t sit back and relax. Keep the hard work going and keep marketing yourself. Keep approaching different clients. You never know from where a good offer might knock your doorstep. Thirdly, have a look at the translators around you and try and take advantage of their weak points. Give your client the things which the others can’t. While developing as a freelance translator, develop uniqueness as well. Fourth and the most important tip, be realistic in your goals. Take only that much in your platter that you can eat. Keep your commitments and always maintain your quality of work.
Thus, Freelance Translator is a very lucrative employment field which can give you double benefits of working from home and earning equally well. In a way, it is perhaps the best way to get a perfect balance between your personal and professional life.


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