Skills To Become a Freelance Translator
Language: Command over the 'source' language as well as the 'destination' language is essential to a translator. Knowledge of grammar and syntax is also essential. Idioms and phrases in one language often do not have a direct parallel in another language. The translator therefore requires sufficient knowledge to be able to use substitute phrases that will still convey the meaning and intent of the original work.
Technical Knowledge: This is essential for domain or technical literature. Often technical terms in one language do not have an equivalent in another language. Most notable in this area are computer terms that are in English or legal terms that appear in Latin. Domain knowledge will help the translator to explain a concept or term in a precise manner without compromising on its meaning.
To Become a Successful Freelance Translator
Practical/Work experience in a translation firm will give you valuable experience in the kind of work that may come your way. In a translation firm, your work is likely to be supervised by an experienced translator who will be responsible for any minor mistakes you may make. This will also give you confidence in your ability.
Working for a professional translation firm will also help you gauge your level of expertise against what is in demand. The experience will give you insight into the kind of jobs that are available (the remuneration offered for a professional job, the time frames demanded, the level of acceptable quality).
It will also help you establish a reputation in the translation business and help you establish contacts among those who require translations. Working for a short while as a volunteer trainee or an intern may also be a viable option in case you are not able to get a paid 'traineeship'. Just look at it as an extension of your translation course.
Sign a Part-Time Contract: Once you have gained a little practical translation experience, you may want to sign a part-time contract. A number of translation agencies prefer this route, as they do not have a guaranteed regular volume of translation work that comes in. Working on a part-time basis also gives you a minimum income and at the same time also leaves you free to search for your own translation contracts that you do on your own terms.
Identify Translation Agencies: These agencies will give you 'quality' translations to do and will also be regular about paying you and honoring your other employment terms. Most translation agencies receive translation assignments for different languages. Therefore, they prefer to pay a retainer to different translators with different language and technical skills so that the are able to meet the requirements of their customers.
Surf the Net: The Internet has shrunk the size of the world leveled the playing field. Identify multinational firms that are likely to have translation requirements for which you have the requisite skills and experience.
Try and approach them directly on the Internet, as the translation fee you earn as a direct translator will be much higher than what you would earn on retainer or through a translation firm. However, be sure to deal only with companies with a sound reputation, or you could easily end up not receiving payment at all. Before you take on the assignment, try and sign a legally enforceable agreement with them so that your interests are safeguarded.
A career as a translator is not easy to establish, but once established it is an ideal career to use for freelance work. Time spent on an internship and time spent building up your reputation and your clientele will pay off in the long run.
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solutions -
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