If you grew up in a bilingual household, there are many jobs that could use your skills.
With the Internet, the possibilities of work at home translation jobs have opened up, and it’s likely you can find something which fits in with your schedule and your abilities.
Aside from simple translation jobs, you could be involved in interpreting, online teaching, or bilingual telephone calls.
Freelancers predominate in the translation market, as a lot of companies only need them on an ad hoc basis.
While some require site work, many will have jobs that can be done from home, for which you will need a reliable Internet connection.
It may not be enough to have simply learnt a language at school, as you should ideally be familiar with the colloquialisms, use, and practice of another language.
Usually it will work best if you translate from a second language into your native childhood language, where it is easy for you to know that it “reads right”.
Of course, if you grew up in a true bilingual household and have spoken two or more languages from childhood, you will be particularly in demand in this market.
Most agencies who handle translation jobs will require you to take fluency tests before being employed, and you need to show that you are accurate and precise in your translations. After all, if the agency is putting you forward for a job, they want to be assured that you will not let them down. This often means that you need to be a native speaker.
There are a number of companies that handle translation services, and some deal with different aspects.
Here is a selection of the best companies where you can find online freelance translator jobs:
- Official site: Translate.com
Translate.com is a site where people and companies who need translations done, go to. Tasks include translating blog posts, social media posts, support tickets, etc.
You can work anytime and from anywhere, but beware that tasks are given on a first come first served basis.
You can get paid anytime you wish via PayPal.
- Official site: Unbabel
Unbabel is a Translation Subscription kind of service where companies and people can get their online content, from blog posts or product descriptions to customer service and newsletters translated.
You are paid by the hour and the wage is $8 an hour. So every second you are translating on the site, you will be paid for it.
And the best part is that you can cash out anytime you like, via PayPal.
- Official site: OneHourTranslation.com
To work here you will have to first apply and take an online exam, followed by sending in your relevant certifications.
Once accepted, you can work and get paid whenever you wish.
And if you wish, they will send you the One Hour Translation MasterCard which you can use to withdraw your earnings directly to it, anywhere in the world.
They also offer payments via PayPal and wire transfer.
- Official site: Rev
You will be translating documents or captions from one language to another for $0.05 – $0.07 per word.
They also have Transcriptionist and Captioner jobs.
You are paid weekly into your PayPal account.
- Official site: Tethras
If you like mobile apps, you will love this one.
They only work with mobile app developers, offering them translations for their apps in different languages.
And that’s where you come in, to translate apps to other languages.
Once you join the site, you will receive notifications of new available jobs. You then review the job and accept it if you wish, and are paid via PayPal.
- Official site: TextMaster
TextMaster is a professional translation, web content writing and proofreading company.
You can earn up to 15¢ per word.
You can request to be paid (via PayPal) once your account balance has reached €50.
- Official site: TranslatorsTown
Translators town is another online job board.
You can register for work, and then you bid on translation jobs which are posted online.
- Official site: Lionbridge
Lionbridge claims to have been doing translations for over 40 years, and that other translation companies use its translation platform.
It has 2500 linguists worldwide using its Unify Technology software platform.
It is easy to start the application progress, filling out a form on the website.
- Official site: Acclaro
Acclaro provides business translation and localization services in over 60 languages.
The website lists full-time positions around the world, as well as a large list of freelance opportunities.
In addition, Acclaro places localization project managers with its clients.
10. American High-Tech Transcription and Reporting
- Official site: American High-Tech Transcription and Reporting
American High-Tech Transcription is based in Florida, and provides transcription to law enforcement agencies and government.
As such, it will run background checks with fingerprints on potential translators.
Its main need is for native English speakers to translate from other languages, and it requires its translators to be US citizens or legal residents, living and working in the US.
In addition, translators must be certified through a state or federal court interpreters program, or other nationally recognized certifying agency.
11. Aberdeen Languages Services Ltd
- Official site: Aberdeen Languages Services Ltd
Aberdeen provides business translation services, and boasts a fast and competitive service, including working 24 hours a day.
It even includes a desktop publishing division, which will take the translated documents and produce finished brochures.
It is headquartered in Canada, and uses freelancers around the world.
12. CSC Translation
- Official site: CSC Translation
CSC offers business translation with an emphasis on quality.
To see if you can qualify for their team, you submit a resume and credentials to the email.
- Official site: Indeed
Indeed is a job board, which lists many translation opportunities.
As it pulls together all types of jobs, you have to be careful as it lists on-site work as well as online work.
14. LanguageLine Solutions
- Official site: LanguageLine Solutions
This company offers interpreting, translation and localization services.
You can interpret over the phone, by remote video, or face to face.
It also offers training for individual companies’ in-house bilingual staff, together with interpreter testing.
15. Languages Unlimited, LLC
- Official site: Languages Unlimited, LLC
Languages Unlimited claims to have more than 10,000 registered interpreters, and offers a range of certified translation services.
To apply you simply have to register in the company’s database online.
16. GlobaLink Translations Limited
- Official site: GlobaLink Translations Limited
Globalink specializes in healthcare, including pharmaceutical, medical, psychological and research translations.
It is always looking to expand its network of translators and translation reviewers, and can be contacted by fax, phone or email, or you can fill out an information form about yourself online.
17. Linguistic Systems Inc.
- Official site: Linguistic Systems Inc.
LSI has more than 7000 translators working for it, and specializes in pharmaceutical, manufacturing, publishing, legal, and information technology fields.
It requires a bachelors degree plus at least two years translation experience, as well as email access and basic software.
The online application includes short tests for translation between language pairs.
- Official site: WordExpress
WordExpress offers translations worldwide, and boasts more than 100 different languages.
In addition to offering full-time positions in California, it employs professional interpreters for a variety of tasks, including legal and simultaneous translation.
You can start by emailing a resume to the company.
- Official site: NetworkOmni
Network Omni is always looking for highly experienced translators to use as independent contractors.
It requires at least three years translation experience as well as a higher education degree, and claims it has so many applications that it will not respond individually to all of them.
However, if you meet the minimum requirements they will take you through a screening process.
20. Pacific Interpreters
- Official site: Pacific Interpreters
Pacific Interpreters specializes in healthcare, public safety, government, and business projects, and also assists deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
It does telephonic interpreting, remote video interpreting, and on-site interpreting including the American Sign Language.
You can apply for a position on the parent company website, LanguageLine Solutions.
- Official site: Clickworker
Clickworker is organized in a different way to many translation services.
It covers many fields, and is crowd sourced, with a total of 700,000 workers available on demand.
Translation is just one of the services offered, among many others like data entry, copy writing and customer service.
To receive work from Clickworker, you need to register and take an assessment.
- Official site: ProZ
ProZ claims to be the translation industry’s leading workplace.
As a translator you can register and create a profile free of charge, although if you are prepared to pay a subscription you maximize your opportunities of obtaining jobs.
You can browse the jobs that are available, and offer a bid on any for which you are qualified and in which you are interested.
- Official site: TRADUguide
TRADUguide allows you as a translator to browse through a list of jobs, and provide a quote for doing the work.
It is a site platform that brings together translators and potential clients.
- Official site: TranslationDirectory
An online job board, which facilitates translators connecting with people who want translations.
It includes translation agencies as well as freelance jobs.
- Official site: SDL
Despite the website name, SDL also offers paid translation in addition to its automated software translation.
You can apply on the website, and the company requires a minimum of two years freelance translation experience or one year in-house translation experience.
They will consider applications from translators who feel they have equivalent alternative experience.
- Official site: 1-800-translate
This company requires freelance translators and on-site interpreters.
You can see a list of job opportunities on their website.
For translation, they ask for a cover letter and resume, and they are also interested in linguists experienced in the post edit of machine translations.
- Official site: WorldLingo
World Lingo offers free computer translation services online, in addition to professional translations.
It classifies translators into two groups – the generalist, and the specialist.
You need to have five years continuous translation experience in a commercial environment, together with a degree and membership in a professional association.
- Official site: Lingosaur
This is an online translation agency and they receive translation assignments from all over world.
You will have to pass an initial test to be accepted.
Once you are accepted, you have the option to accept or reject any task, with no obligations.
After you accept a job, you can download the document(s), translate them, and upload the translations.
Once your work is accepted by the client, you will be paid.
- Official site: Gengo
Become a Gengo translator and gain access to translation jobs giving you flexible income.
You are paid twice a month.
- Official site: OneSky
This company specializes in translation of apps, games and websites.
They are currently looking for translators, but they don’t have much information about the job, requirements, and the pay.
Finding translator jobs on freelancing sites
In addition to the job boards mentioned above, which deal mainly in translation, there are other more general job boards and freelancing sites where you could look for translating opportunities.
- PeoplePerHour.com, and
- UpWork.com, formerly odesk.com, which now includes elance.com, another popular online destination.
How much do translators earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for translators in 2014 was $43,590 per year, which translate (no pun intended) to $20.96 per hour.
Of course, there is no standard rate for translations.
Tasks can range from translating hundreds of pages of technical or legal jargon to simply facilitating with email correspondence.
The amount you make depends to some extent on how difficult the translation is, but is always subject to your negotiations.
Having said that, the rates can be $.10 or $.20 per word, or you may be paid by the hour.
Hourly rates can range from $10 to $100, depending on your speed and abilities.
It obviously helps if you have a professional certification in translation.
How to become a certified translator
You will find various training and certification programs online, but the main one to aim for is organized by the American Translators Association (ATA).
They conduct a certification exam which then allows you to use the designation CT (certified translator) after your name.
This provides the potential client with a measure of your worth, and will usually mean that you are paid more.
Is it for you?
Professional translation is not a job that you can decide to do, and then train for a couple of months.
It requires that you have the right background, and a multilingual ability.
It generally requires that you speak the destination language like a native.
If you are fortunate enough to have been raised with a second language, or you have later become bilingual, then there are many opportunities for you to start a full or part-time translation career.