Building Your Career as a Freelance Translator

With the rise of self-publishing and the growth of the global economy, a career as a freelance translator is becoming more and more attractive. You can gain experience first by working with an agency in-house, or you can freelance from the beginning– either full time or around an existing career. All you need is access to a computer and an internet connection.

If you’re looking for a steady side income, or you want the freedom to work from anywhere on a schedule that suits you, becoming a freelance translator is the way to go.

When you’re first contemplating a translation career, it can seem daunting knowing where to start. Read on for some top tips on how to begin and where to find work.

The Skills and Qualifications You Need

You don’t actually need formal qualifications to be a translator. A degree in at least one of the languages you intend to translate is advantageous, but some translators don’t hold degrees at all. In-house jobs may require either degrees or a substantial portfolio of work before they will consider employing you.

As a freelancer, however, the quality of your work will speak for itself without any specific qualifications. As long as you have the necessary fluency in two or more languages, an excellent command of grammar, and great communication skills, you will be able to find work as a freelance translator.

It’s essential, however, to realize that not needing specific qualifications doesn’t mean that just anyone with a decent knowledge of another language can translate.

You need to be fluent in both languages – and that includes a full understanding of the cultural contexts of both languages. It’s essential that you can spot things that don’t carry across from the source language into the target language and can adapt the work accordingly.

If you have those skills, you have the ability to build an excellent career in translation.

Choosing a Niche

The best translators have some knowledge and experience of the translation material. If you’re a keen self-help enthusiast, you may enjoy translating non-fiction in related topics. Love sci-fi novels? Start with translating those.

More specific niches might appeal to some – if you have a medical background, you might choose to work with pharmaceutical or medical companies translating various documents. There’s translation work in all kinds of fields – legal, medical, marketing, technology.

You don’t need to have a niche, but a lot of the most successful translators do. If you don’t know what you want your niche to be, or even if you want one, you don’t need to choose one right away. Try a few small translation jobs with different material, and when you find one area you love to work with it can become your niche.


Experience builds expertise better than any training courses. Training courses will give you a foundation, but it’s experience that really makes you a translator. Clients are often more interested in seeing examples of your work than they are in certificates.

Start with small projects where you have a lot of subject matter knowledge and work your way up to larger ones.

You may need to take on a couple of free jobs in the beginning so that you can build a portfolio of high-quality work. If you do choose to do this, keep the free work to the minimum required to build a good portfolio; 2-3 high-quality pieces of work is enough to get started.

Once you have a portfolio, you’ll be able to demonstrate the quality of your work to prospective clients, making it easier to find paid work.

The difficulty with freelance translating is that you’ll need to find the work yourself. It can seem daunting, especially if you don’t have a website or a marketing budget. Luckily, you can find freelance translation jobs without marketing yourself heavily or even needing a website.

Where to Find Translation Jobs

You can find translation jobs on freelance sites like Fiverr and Upwork, although there’s a lot of competition and the rates can vary wildly. They’re often a one-time payment for the translation, and frequently the lowest bidder will win the job.

There is an easier way. If you want to translate ebooks, Babelcube has a plentiful supply of book translation jobs.

Self-published authors use Babelcube because of the quality of the translation, and the ability to fund the translation by partnering with the translator. Babelcube translators share in the success of the translated work because they receive a percentage of the royalties.

This is a true partnership. Everyone —the rights holder (author or publisher), the translator, and Babelcube— make money as the book is sold through the sharing of royalty revenue.

You can build a portfolio, with your name in every book as the translator, and gain experience while having access to unlimited earning opportunities. Plus, you choose exactly which books you want to translate, and exactly when and where you work.

If you’re looking for a work from home translation job or a freelance translation job, Babelcube is perfect for both new and experienced translators.

Babelcube offers freelance translators the opportunity to pick books to translate, define their project timeline, and share in the royalties of book sales.

Babelcube is the easiest way to translate and sell a book in multiple languages. Book publishers and self-published authors team up with translators. The translated books are sold through 100s of retailers.

Check it out at Babelcube.


  1. Shivani Chawla

    I am a German language expert and have an experience of almost four years with jobs related to German Language.
    Please let me know if you have any work for translation.

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