How to become a translator and where to learn a profession

The profession of a translator has not lost its relevance for several decades. Now it is experiencing another boom, as companies from different countries closely interact, and Internet sites are entering the international level. And all of them need mutual understanding, and for this it is necessary to know foreign languages.

But without knowledge of the language, the market will not be very conquered. Therefore, companies and individuals seek the help of qualified translators. Today we will talk about the specifics of this profession in more detail.

Who is suitable for the work of a translator

Who can work as a translator? Translation can be carried out by both a graduate of the Faculty of Linguistics and a specialized translation university, as a teacher of a foreign language, and a person who has studied at the courses.

However, if we talk about the students of the courses, there is a clarification: the basic and initial levels (A1 and A2) are too low to start a career as a translator. To translate qualitatively, knowledge at the level of C1 and C2 is necessary.

And another important point: a high-class translator is rarely a generalist, so a narrow specialization in one area is necessary.

Who has more chances to become the best in the profession

There is an opinion that a graduate of the Faculty of Linguistics is easier to cope with the task of translation than a graduate of a translation university. Could this be the case, and if so, why? After all, according to the logic of things, specialized universities pay more attention to the nuances of translation.

The fact is that a translator, even without experience, knows how to translate. But the psychological factor works: if a person with a diploma of a translator and knowledge, but without a portfolio and practice, is told that they will not pay much, then he is disappointed. He can just walk away without proving anything to anyone. After all, he knows that he is a great translator, he was taught this, his work costs a certain amount of money.

If the same is said to a graduate philologist or linguist, he will agree. And he will go to work for a low fee, but at the same time he will learn right at work, from his mistakes. And as a result, he will become an excellent specialist.

And this is another nuance of the beginning of a career: even an ideal knowledge of the language does not exclude remarks from the employer or customer and constant polishing of skills.

And yes, stress resistance and perseverance will not hurt the translator either.

What are the advantages of narrow specialization

If a person who understands and speaks any of the foreign languages at the level of everyday life, literature, culture, is given to read the technical instruction of some machine or medical protocol, he is unlikely to understand its content completely.

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Moreover, if you give a person the same technical documentation written in his native language, he also will not understand much. And this misunderstanding does not come from ignorance of the language, but from the fact that a person is not an expert in this direction. He does not use certain terminology, has not studied and does not know the words and turns necessary in a particular field.

What should a translator with high general knowledge do if he doubts his knowledge of niches? Not to be afraid, but to take orders and translate. After translating 5-20 texts on medicine, law or energy resources, you will not just learn the terminology, but will begin to understand which term to use in a particular circulation, increase the speed and quality of translation.

Narrow-profile specialists in the translation market have more advantages than those who work in various directions:

  • the narrower the niche in which you work, the fewer competitors;
  • you do not need to have a certain education (medical or technical), it is enough just to study the professional terminology and monitor its changes;
  • if you have a regular customer, you can reach the level of an elite translator;
  • in a few years to develop a portfolio and reputation that allows you to expand the circle of customers.

Recommendation: when choosing a niche, focus on the topic that you are interested in or in which you understand.

Types of services and types of translations for remote work

Translation specialists working remotely are either freelance employees of companies or freelancers with flexible schedules and the same flexible earnings. If representatives of the first category have a certain working time, a steady flow of orders, a rate, then freelancers are engaged in the search for orders on their own.

What types of translations can be performed by translators:

  • interpreting;
  • translation of specific texts (medicine, jurisprudence, technical translation);
  • literary translation;
  • translation-editing (with the normalization of the style and grammar of the text).

What are these types of translations and which of them is the most comfortable for a specialist – we will characterize each with a few sentences.


It is also called synchronous. The speed of the translator’s reaction and a clear understanding of meanings are important. Since there is no time for reflection and corrections, it is necessary to translate in the process of negotiations or speech of the speaker.

Sometimes freelancers are hired to translate during online conferences, meetings or negotiations in a remote format.

Also, the type of interpretation is consecutive. In this case, the speaker makes several sentences, which are then reproduced by the translator.

Technical Translation

One of the most difficult types of work. Requires not only knowledge of the language, but also some knowledge of science and technology or even technical education.

Features of this translation:

  • the use of impersonal forms of verbs;
  • formal and logical presentation of information;
  • maximum accuracy;
  • lack of emotional color.

Literary translation

A favorite type of work by many specialists. You can translate in several versions, but you need to be able to competently use metaphors, epithets, author’s turns, have a rich vocabulary. Most freelancers consider literary translation to be the most comfortable, which gives room for creativity.

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Specific translation (legal, medical)

For this type of work, it is necessary to master the terminology and follow the semantic sequence. The well-being or even the lives of people depend on the correct translation of the document. Working in these niches involves a special responsibility.


Bringing the text in line with the requirements of the terms of reference. The contractor must have a thorough knowledge of the rules, norms and features of a foreign language.

How a freelancer can show his professionalism

Without a portfolio and rating, you will not order anything – customers love proven performers. And without orders, even a minimum portfolio cannot be collected. And how can a novice freelancer break this circle and show his competence?

There are several ways:

  1. Make your account as fully as possible: tell about education, if possible, add a diploma, certificates. Describe the skills in detail.
  2. If you have not yet had orders for the portfolio, make several translations for fictitious customers or real acquaintances.
  3. Take a test task and do it as well as you can. In any case, you can add it to the portfolio.

Remote work implies a certain degree of trust between the customer and the contractor. Already after the first submitted texts, the customer determines whether he wants to continue to cooperate with this specialist. So your first articles are your business card, proof of competence.

How many languages you need to know to make money on translation

In the translation industry, there are concepts of “sought-after and unclaimed language pair”. They mean the highest paid and not very paid translations from language to language.

Experienced translators claim that most of all they managed to earn on translations from English into French. France has the highest requirements for translation, so high-quality text is paid accordingly.

Good rates are given by the language pairs English-Japanese and English-Chinese. But there are not so many professionals who thoroughly know these oriental languages.

Those who speak Latin, Arabic, Swedish, Polish can count on high wages.

The more languages a translator knows, the more chances he has to earn. We are now talking about deep, not superficial knowledge. The best option is to speak three foreign languages.

Many freelancers are interested in how relevant the Russian-Ukrainian language pair is now and whether it is possible to become a translator with knowledge of only these languages.

The relevance of this pair is confirmed by the fact that online stores in Ukraine must have a Ukrainian version of the site. Often in the TK for copywriters prescribe a clause on the mandatory translation of the text (product cards, information articles, documentation and much more) from Ukrainian into Russian. The trend of bilingualism is also observed in social networks. If the store designs a page, say, on Instagram, there are necessarily two options for describing the goods – Ukrainian and Russian-language.

However, for this purpose, translators are not always hired, but the task is delegated to copywriters. Payment for the translation is included in the total amount for the written text. Those customers who hire translators to work with this language pair are willing to pay from 4 to 20 dollars per page. Requirements for a specialist: translation + proofreading (first price category), translation + proofreading + editing + layout (the highest price category).

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How much does a freelance translator earn?

The cost of the order is affected by several factors:

  • complexity and specificity of work;
  • volume;
  • timing;
  • quality.

Some beginners mistakenly believe that the impact on earnings is also exerted by the direction in which the transfer is directed. That is, they think that translation from English into Ukrainian or Russian is valued higher than translation vice versa. It’s not that.

To create an objective picture of the earnings of a freelance translator, it is necessary to take into account that there are different levels of skills of specialists (from basic to high) and pay them differently. Also, the payment depends on the complexity / rarity of the language. The entire grid can be found in the statistics of prices for the services of specialists.

And in the article I will give only a few figures of the earnings of medium-level translators (per hour of work):

  • german — 210 uah;
  • english — 250 uah;
  • italian language — 300 uah.

Payment can be carried out not only per hour of work, but also by project or per day.

It is important to know: translation into oriental languages is valued higher than into English. They pay more for the translation of legal documents than for the translation of a literary work.

For what the translator will be paid half as much

The employer respects the responsible employees. It is for responsibility that he is willing to pay more.

The article mentions quality several times. So, it is necessary to clarify that quality in translation is an ambiguous concept. If the customer, who is waiting for a literary translation, includes the beauty of the syllable and the presence of artistic turns, then the customer-logistician, waiting for the translation of the document for customs, considers the text to be of high quality, where all the numbers and names are in place.

Responsibility in the work for the translator is:

  • strict compliance with the TK;
  • communication with the customer until the moment of delivery of the work;
  • strict adherence to deadlines.

It is much more profitable for the employer to adequately pay for the work of a reliable translator than to change the “cheap” irresponsible performers or to be in a long search for a suitable candidate for the position.

A few tips for freelance translators

Freelancing is not an easy job, not a relaxed pastime. The fact that a person works from home does not relieve him of responsibility and obligations.

Here are some tips for the most effective distribution of time and energy, as well as increasing earnings:

  • create a high-quality portfolio;
  • carefully study the requirements of the customer and only after that put bets on the project;
  • stick to the deadline for the work;
  • build feedback with the customer;
  • organize an optimal work schedule for yourself, do not get discouraged due to lack of control from the outside;
  • work out responsibility.

It is important to pump your knowledge not only at work, but also in everyday life. Read foreign literature in the original, watch movies, communicate with native speakers on the Internet. Don’t let your skills stagnate.


Written by Shubham

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