Freelance translation pays off well

Freelance translator as a profession

Many translators work on them different types of texts. They get their jobs with a technical, medical, economic, political, scientific or legal background from public authorities and offices as well as from companies, organizations and of course from private individuals. Literary texts or broadcasts for radio and television are also translated. Some freelance translators develop technical terminology and work on creating and managing databases.

In many companies, freelance translators are hired to write written communications with business partners or foreign customers.

Access to the job

As with an interpreter, it is not uncommon for students to have completed a degree. However, lateral entrants can also work as translators if they have the appropriate linguistic background, for example because they speak two mother tongues.

Note: The necessary knowledge that the translator needs in practice can be acquired through internships in translation agencies and with authorities.

This is not only about the theoretical requirements for a translation and linguistic subtleties, but also about everyday professional life as a freelance translator, which includes aspects of marketing, taxes and legal issues. Also about a school education, z. B. as a foreign language correspondent, access to the profession is possible.

Important skills

Since freelance translators are usually presented with specialist texts for translation, precise knowledge of the respective language and the subject matter is essential. This is accompanied by targeted research in individual cases. Freelance translators in particular, who deal with technical translations, often specialize in a certain subject area, such as Electrical engineering or mechanical engineering.

The translations created must not only be linguistically based on the source text, but also on the target group for which the text is created. Translators therefore have to master a language not only in terms of vocabulary, but also in terms of the possible stylistic means. The language background therefore plays an important role.

The fees

The translator's fee depends on the type of text in question and thus on the demands that the text places on the translation work. The translator usually takes a standard page of 17.50 euros as the basis. However, the translation effort is usually higher, especially for technical translations and those with sensitive content. This also increases the fee. It is possible Contribution of the translator to the sales proceedswhat is done with books, for example.

Usually, however, a certain number of copies must be sold before the translator can share in the proceeds. If 5,000 books are sold, he will generally get between 0.5 and 1.5 percent of the net sales price.

Further training opportunities

Freelance translators have many different qualification courses to choose from, with which they can either specialize in a selected area or with which it is possible to expand their own service portfolio. In this way, certain languages ​​can be studied if this has not yet been done in the course of your own training. Professional training, the basics of economics and business administration, European law, publishing or the acquisition of communicative skills are also at the top of the list of qualifications.

If the training to become a translator is not based on a degree, for example a bachelor's or master's degree in translation can be taken. This is possible in the form of face-to-face studies or by taking part in distance learning courses or distance learning to become a translator at a relevant college or university.


Basically, a translator is already very specialized because he has committed himself to one or two languages ​​with which he works. But a freelancer also has other options Specialization of his field of work. For example, he can give himself to certain types of translation. He translates works of fiction, non-fiction books from the field of mechanical engineering or the dictionary into different languages.

Remember: this can also work as a business translator and only works for a select group of clients. There is always work for a professional freelance translator.

Cooperation with agencies

There are many different agencies and translation agencies in Germany. The chances of a translator entering into a cooperation with them are not particularly high, but they are good. However, it must be expected that questions and answers will have to be given when it comes to individual jobs and projects. Such a cooperation does not only have one advantage. In addition to the money that can be earned here, the division of labor often saves time. In addition, working with colleagues is much more fun for many freelancers.

Administrative work and office management

Do you work as a freelance translator? Fine, then you will surely have fun at work - but unfortunately there are also things that just have to be done, but are rarely fun. For example the organizational and administrative work. You don't earn anything when you write bills - so be sure to count those unproductive hours against productive times. These bills are not always paid, however, and reminders must then be issued.

Do you want to avoid this annoyance and are you interested in professional complaint management? At the same time, it is a consideration whether factoring for freelancers is an option for you. Even if you cannot have the entire bookkeeping done with it, at least the fee payments that were agreed in the context of a service contract are secured.

Author: Jürgen Busch

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Freelance translator as a profession
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