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Do you remember those “foreign language” classes you were advised (sometimes even forced) to take in high school?
Maybe your family moved around a lot internationally when you were younger and you had to pick up a few languages.
If you took those seriously, I’ve got some good news – they are about to pay off, literally. How? The answer is simple – you can get paid to translate.
Fun fact: The average translator can make up to $51,830 in a year. If you ask me, that’s a pretty decent sum. Stats also say that employment rate for translators is projected to grow by over 20% over the next decade – even more than some regular fields.
To get you started on your translating journey, we will be addressing the following subheadings:
So, let’s get down to business;
What exactly does a translator do?
The job of a translator is to accurately convey the message of a written text from a source language into the target language.
It is often mixed up with interpreting, which is similar, but the difference is that interpreters do not work with written texts; interpreters translate in real-time ‘live sessions’.
Translators mainly work with written materials including letters, reports, articles, books, and so on.
To do this, they use a wide range of tools – dictionaries, glossaries, and translation software, for example.
In cases where the text to be translated is specific to a culture, it is the job of the translator to be properly informed about the cultures of target and source languages to be translated in order to accurately convey the intended message.
What you need to know
Most translators work on a freelance or contract basis and most of their work is online – especially with the current pandemic that has caused companies around the world to adopt the concept of a ‘virtual office.’
On this job board, the following were listed as a translator’s job description:
It may look like a lot, but it’s not that hard to adapt to, and anyone worth their salt can take on these tasks.
How to Get Paid to Translate
Like most jobs, you need to make an application. Hold on, before making that application, you need to be sure you are qualified to be a translator.
Now, having a bachelor’s degree in a language-related field is an added advantage (and a requirement in some cases), but it is not always necessary.
However, you don’t automatically qualify just because you are fluent in a language; you have to undergo training.
Taking paid courses online, honing your computer skills, and gaining experience from smaller paying jobs can really help to boost your resume. There are even websites that are willing to hire beginner translators with no experience.
Besides freelance translator websites or contract jobs, here are some other ways you can offer your translation services:
The World of Subtitles and How to Get In
So, maybe being around long, boring documents for lengthened periods of time is not your thing. You could consider subtitling.
Subtitles provide a written version of the dialogue – and, in some cases, other sound effects – in a video file.
There are three types – general, closed captioning (for the hard of hearing or deaf), and language subtitles (where translating comes in).
Subtitle writing, or subtitling, is the process of taking the transcript of a video (or working directly with the video) and creating abbreviated versions of the dialogue. Jobs in subtitling require a high level of linguistic accuracy.
Just so you know, a subtitle writer makes an average of $45,158/yr. No, I did not randomly type a bunch of numbers, the stats are here.
How do you get in? Easy. You can take a paid course (GoSub, for example), connect online with other subtitlers, and, probably most importantly, improve your hearing and typing skills. The last one goes without saying, you can’t translate if you can’t hear.
15 Freelance Translator and Subtitling Websites
There are a lot of websites out there that are looking to hire freelance translators and subtitlers of varying experiences and certifications. I cannot list them all, but here are a few of them:
Here are some bonus tips to help you on your journey:
- Learning extra languages is an added advantage. The more languages you can speak and write fluently, the more your marketability. Take language courses, travel, connect with foreign language speakers online to strengthen your footing in the language pool.
- While learning languages, don’t just learn randomly. Go for languages that are in high demand, with little completion e.g Japanese, Russian, Icelandic, etc. A knowledge of these languages gives you extra advantage in the translator market.
- Promote yourself on a website or blog.
- Pitch to clients as often as you can. As a beginner translator with no experience, it is inevitable that you would get a couple of rejections, but don’t give up.
- Do not wait until you land a gig to start generating material. In your idle time, pick up a random text to translate. You can add these random translations to your portfolio and present as samples to prospective clients.
We have talked at length about the different ways you can get paid to translate documents and subtitle/caption videos.
Now, it is your turn to go out there (or online) and shoot your shots at all these companies and websites. I really hope this article helps. Enough chitchat, go get ‘em!!