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How to become an online translator: the complete guide

how to become online translator

The work of online translators is one the most promising frontiers when it comes to the digitisation of professions related to producing and processing written texts.
Online translators are professionals who interact directly with end customers and collaborate with translation agencies.

The work of online translators

The work of online translators is not dissimilar to that of traditional translators.
The difference is that the assignment of jobs, the translation process, and the delivery of completed texts are all performed online by exchanging digital documents over email or via other online file transfer platforms.

How much do online translators get paid?

As is always the case for freelancers, how much online translators make depends on several factors.
First, a professional’s accumulated or certified experience definitely counts for something. Generally speaking, translation agencies require translators to have at least two or three years of proven professional expertise before collaborating.
Translators' earnings increase as they gain more experience producing specialised translations.
The number and type of language combinations online translators speak also determines how much they earn.  If, for example, a translator can translate to and from complex and rare languages, they can charge a higher rate. On the other hand, if a translator is only fluent in one widely spoken language, such as English (for which there is plenty of competition), they will probably earn less.
In general, online translators chargea between 2 and 10 cents per word.

How to become an online translator: training courses

To work as an online translator, you usually need a Bachelor's degree in foreign languages. It is also a definite plus to have completed a Master's degree that complements your undergraduate course of study.
In addition to academic courses, it is not a bad idea to volunteer for cultural mediation associations and start working in the field to better understand the profession’s main challenges and complexities.

Five tips for getting started

The best way to get started as an online translator is to:

  • contact translation agencies to start working as a freelancer
  • sign up for specialised forums that act as a point of reference and a place for translators and online translation service agencies to exchange details
  • create a website and portfolio where you can upload your CV and talk about past translation projects and ongoing collaborations

Job opportunities

There are plenty of job opportunities out there for online translators as they are not prohibited by the need to establish working relationships with customers in person. This allows online translators to collaborate with the following:

  • Translation agencies
  • Publishers
  • Private companies
  • Other freelancers
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