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How to become a freelance translator – Part 4

Working as a freelancer rather than on an eight-hour regular job seems so attractive, doesn´t it? But it’s not as easy as it looks. To be a successful freelance translator, there are a lot of things that one needs to achieve first. When we apply for a job, we need to prove ourselves to the employer. Every job has specific requirements that are set by the employer. These requirements include necessary qualifications, higher education, set of skills and experience.


Qualifications for becoming a Freelance Translator

In theory, all you need to become a freelance translator is a client. As long as someone is prepared to pay you money for your services, you´re in the profession. But, just like for a regular job, most freelancers also need to have specific qualifications before being able to sell their services to clients around the globe. And just as every job is different, freelance work is different as well. There are different types of freelance professions in the world, and every profession has diverse qualification requirements.


A freelancer must be qualified according to the standards set in the market. Here is a list of freelance translator qualifications clients may ask for:


  • Native-level fluency in the target language.
  • Fluency in the languages you are translating from (often with proof).
  • A four-year bachelor’s degree (often with proof). This may not be a requirement if you have enough knowledge, experience, and skill to fulfill the job.
  • Work-related skills, knowledge, and experience – some agencies or companies may ask for a minimum of one/two/three/etc. years’ experience in the profession.
  • On-the-job training and vocational training as well.
  • The ability to understand the source language correctly to convey messages effectively and accurately.
  • A feeling for the tone and register of the original text.
  • Complete understanding of meaning, spelling, rules of composition and grammar, expressions and turns of phrase.
  • Legal, financial and technical terminology and jargon in both the source and target languages are a must.
  • The capacity to research concepts and terminology not immediately clear to the translator. Knowing when and how to ask a customer what something means.


These are some of the qualifications and requirements that are needed to sell yourself as a freelance translator. All of these are similar to the skills required for an office job. Therefore, we can say that the main differences between a full-time job and working as a freelancer are freedom and flexibility on the one hand, and reduced risk (stable salary) on the other.


In the world of freelance work, you are your own boss and you make your own rules. It’s up to you when you want to work, where you want to work, what opportunities you wish to take on and how much you want to work. We hope this helps you in starting your career as a freelance translator!


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