Working as a Digital Nomad Translator

Some jobs can be done remotely and translations are one of the best fits for a digital nomad lifestyle as they can be performed anywhere in the world.

This is the first from a series of articles in collaboration with Day Translations.

How To Become a Translator

Experienced freelance translators have been working remotely for decades, communicating with their clients mostly by email: they are among the pioneers of remote working. Face-to-face interactions are not necessary to secure a new translation project or to maintain a good working relationship with a client.

Before you embark in a career as a translator you will need qualifications and accreditations.

Having a good qualification from a reputable university is essential to become a professional translator, because it is difficult to enter the market without formal training.

Once graduated, most universities will give you access to work opportunities through noticeboards and other resources or at least networking opportunities by listing your profile. Employers such as EU institutions often look for potential candidates through universities.

It is recommended you join a professional association, as it serves two purposes:

  • it raises your profile and helps you get found online
  • it gives reassurance to potential clients about your credentials.

The Translators Association of Ireland, for example, has a useful section about translators working in Ireland, how they found work and what qualifications they hold.

On a similar note, Day Translations has an article on interpreters and their tips on how to get started in this career.

A little unknown fact about me: when I was in the process of choosing my University course, I sat for the School of Interpreters and Translators admission test in Trieste but I didn’t score highly enough (for example, at the time I didn’t know the meaning of ‘stables’ as horse-riding was far removed from my day-to-day life!) so I ended up taking Political Science instead. No entry exam nor knowledge of horse husbandry needed there!

Routes To Market for Freelance Translators

Freelance translators tend to work directly with clients or work through an agency, however many do both to ensure they have a steady workload.

There are pros and cons in working directly with clients or through agencies.

Working Directly with Translation Clients

Pros:

  • stable and predictable income
  • once you establish a working relationship, the trust you have built will ensure you are given interesting and rewarding projects
  • you only need to do your sales pitch or work proposal once
  • if you are a good networker, it should be quite easy to find clients through word-of-mouth.

Cons:

  • clients may decide to take their business elsewhere or they may stop working with you for any reason such as experiencing cash flow issues
  • expectations can be very high including expecting you to be available at short notice
  • unless you are an excellent negotiator, you could potentially be stuck in a contract paying you the same rate for years or you may accept a rate that may be lower than the market rate.

Working with Translation Agencies

Pros:

  • variety of projects
  • as long as you look for opportunities on a regular basis, you can earn a steady income
  • ideal if you prefer working on multiple projects
  • access to many potential clients.

Cons:

  • high competition from fellow translators
  • rate of pay can be lower than working directly with clients
  • you may need to bid for several projects before you can secure one job.

Another potential route to market is to get to know other successful and experienced translators who are willing to outsource some of their work, maybe because you offer a language combination they don’t have or simply because the size of a project requires external help.

Find Your Niche

Technical and industry-specific translations attract higher rates.

Examples of translation niches include:

  • technology
  • legal
  • pharmaceutical
  • medical
  • government

In order to have a higher success rate in winning translation projects, it is important to be familiar with the cultural nuances in each language pair, as well as having in depth technical knowledge.

A large part of the job of professional translators is continuous training and development to ensure their skills are always up to date.

If you are interested in working for Day Translations as a freelance translator you can check out their jobs page for the latest availability.

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