Asociación Argentina de Traductores

AATT - Asociación Argentina de Traductores Técnico-Científicos

Artículos y Publicaciones

Freelance Translation

By Tr José Manuel Sancho


As you may probably know, by becoming a Professional Translator, you can have lots of job opportunities. Freelance Translation can be a very important option for those who have difficulties in getting a job as a translator in places like laboratories, publishing houses, multinationals, etc.

Here is some advice to be able to "survive" as a Professional Freelance Translator:

1. Diversify activities towards technical drafting, terminology, development of multi-media content, etc.

2. Develop capacities in the field of computer-assisted translation (CAT), design and management of databases, post-editing of texts translated by computer, and rewriting.

3. Use the Internet to good effect (messaging, searching for resources and partners, consultating on-line multilingual glossaries and others) and to advertise your services (translation, interpretation, bilingual secretarial services, edition, proofreading, resivion and reviewing of English/Spanish texts, subtitling, teaching, formatting and graphic design of translations, localization, etc).

Companies and Internet-based translation agencies that require the services of a Freelance Translator are usually looking for experienced, high caliber individuals to fill a range of positions. Applicants will preferably be graduates, qualified in one or more foreign languages. In particular they look for native speakers of a language into which they will translate, who are fluent and also preferably qualified, in a foreign language.

Conforming to specified and often tight deadlines, freelance translators will undertake highly varied private and commercial translation work provided to them on an agreed and ongoing basis.

For a Freelance Translator, the geographic location and nationality is not important since the only requisite in addition to those mentioned is a computer with an Internet connection.

Successful applicants will be expected to demonstrate a high level of professionalism, accuracy and attention to detail. They will also be self-motivated, flexible, trustworthy and discreet, taking care of the client's confidentiality and the company's integrity in the marketplace.

Freelance translators should also possess a working knowledge of one or more of the following subject areas: marketing, finance, medicine, law, politics, engineering and/or quality assurance.

Copy writing or creative writing skills, and/or proof reading or copy correcting experience would also be advantageous. In some cases, these companies offer permanent positions and will also have the opportunity of career progression, depending on a satisfactory performance and other conditions. Most positions currently offered are freelance appointments. This means your status would be that of a self-employed sub-contractor responsible for your own tax, national insurance, and holiday pay, etc, as well as for your own computer equipment, internet access and any other operating expenses.

As a rule, you will issue the company with a weekly/monthly invoice for all work done, which will be remitted to your bank account within 72 hours by BACS or some other agreed method of payment.

Here are some golden rules given by M.S.N. Carpenter (Professional Freelance Translator) during a series of conferences at the University of Rennes on trades and professions.

1. Do not carry out work that others should be doing (for example, leave the work of the specialist to the specialists).

2. Refuse to work on the black market.

3. Translate only into your mother tongue.

4. Do not agree to revise texts written in a language other than yours, even if the lecturer asks you to do it.

5. Respect the deadlines requested by your customers.

6. Confidentiality. Do not use your knowledge of a document for the benefit of a third party.

7. Honesty and solidarity between translators. You should not criticize them in front of others.