What Are Translation Jobs And How Do Become One?

by Mapping Returns
Translator job

Translation Job: Generally speaking, you are paid by the number of words in the source language.

But your price level depends on

The target language. It will be a combination of how rare your target language is and the general price level in the country where they speak that language.

Your specialization. Generally speaking, subtitling pays the least, fiction a little bit more; the “normal” price level is for IT and finance, but fields such as medical or “sworn” legal can command a bit more.

If you manage an unusual combination of source and target language.

But the biggest factor of all is How fast you type. And, of course, how quickly you think.

If you can’t do 1,500 words daily, translation is not how you make a living. To be a freelance translator, you should be able to do at least 2,000 to 2,500 words daily. The fastest translators (and among those) can manage up to 8,000 daily (my personal best is 10,500 in one day), but I can’t keep that up for more than a day or two. 

I am working that fast requires that you don’t have to think. What I do, and I suspect most translators do, is to read a sentence in the source language, retain the meaning of it, and then re-phrase the same definition in the target language. 

If you can do that, freelance translation might be something for you.

Best websites to get freelance translation jobs

  • Upwork Translation Jobs
  • Freelancer Translation Jobs for June 2016

Professional Translation Websites

  • Translators Cafe Professional Translation, Interpreting, Editing, Writing, Proofreading, Subtitling Jobs
  • Proz Translation and Interpreting Jobs
  • Traduguide Find Translation Jobs for Freelance Translators
  • Apply to companies’ websites(a few of them)
  • Gengo – Gengo – Translator
  • Travel – become a translation expert
  • Unbabel: Unbabel’s mission is to eliminate language barriers.
  • Transperfect – Freelance Linguist Application
  • VerbalizeIT – Sign Up to Become a Translator for VerbalizeIt
  • theBigword – Linguist Zone – thebigword

How To Start Translator Jobs?

I only speak English and Japanese, so your answers will vary depending on where you live and what languages you speak. Here is what I found looking for translation jobs with my skill set:

In Japan, the IT industry is huge, and many IT companies are looking for technical translators or people who can train.

In America, the Japanese car industry is huge, and many auto manufacturers and suppliers are looking for technical translators or people who can train. (There is, of course, a certain demand for technical translators in Japan, too.)

The video game industry posts hundreds of jobs all the time. It requires both game translators for the content of the games and technical and business translators to translate the documentation and help coordinate between the countries.

A few translation companies throughout Japan and America are hiring full-time translators, though the pay tends to be low.

Several news services, such as Bloomberg and Reuters, require many translators on staff.

Finally, most people who translate full-time are freelancers. They are associated with several translation companies, sometimes giving them some work or having a large private client base. Many translators get some work from companies and some from their clients.

Final Words

A very select few source languages also command a much higher price. Finnish, Turkish, and Mongolian, for instance, are what is known as “agglutinative” languages, where one word can contain concepts that an Indo-European language like English or French takes several words to express. Generally speaking, a language that has words than can span an entire line but lacks words for “a,” “for,” and “the” will mean you put much more effort into every source word. Some languages have so few speakers that they can charge whatever they feel like; Southern Sami and Latin are two I have experience with (as a buyer at a translation agency, not as a translator).

For target languages, Spanish and Portuguese are the cheapest I have experienced. They regularly charge as low as EUR 0.05 per word for IT texts. Baltic languages tend to be about the same. French or German would be about EUR 0.1 per word, English slightly lower. (Fiction in English is a special case: the potential market there is big enough that publishers can afford to pay the same as for finance or IT. For smaller needs, such as the Scandinavian languages, the extra cost would make a novel prohibitively expensive; they regularly pay as little as EUR 0.03 per source word.) On the other edge, Latin into Swedish was massively expensive. I think about EUR 2 per word. (For some rare language combinations, like Southern Sami into Italian, it is cheaper for the client to go via English; it’s a widespread second language, and they get the English version free.)

If you are looking for other opportunities, There are many ways to make money online.

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