I still remember one of my very first jobs working as a translator making $35 per translated page while my parents were making $5 an hour! Yes…that’s how long ago it was.
In addition to translating documents, I also worked as an interpreter making $40 per hour for the first hour, then $20 per hour for every hour after that each time.
That was a lot of money for someone just starting college, and how I got the job was even more interesting!
This older gentleman living in the same apartment complex as my parents asked me to help call the immigration services office regarding some paperwork. The person on the other end mentioned that my English was really good and if I would be interested working as a translator.
The rest as they say is history.
Most of the documents I translated were birth certificates, marriage certificates, school transcripts, and even love letters!
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Table of Contents
Translator vs. Interpreter: What’s The Difference?
Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they have different meanings and describe different services. You might assume that translators could easily work as interpreters and vice versa – however, this is not true.
While both professions work with languages, they fulfill different tasks, and a different skill set is needed to truly master each profession.
In order to do their jobs effectively, interpreters and translators must have a solid grasp of at least two languages. Most places offer both translation and interpretation services.
An interpreter translates the spoken word orally from a source language to a target language in real time. This usually takes place on-site, over the phone, or via webcam for a meeting, court appointment, hospital visit, etc.
An interpreter often has to translate back and forth between two parties on the spot without computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools. This is why an interpreter needs quick comprehension and has to be able to react spontaneously.
Interpreters usually get paid per hour or per day.
A translator converts a written text from one language to another, usually with the help of computer-aided translation (CAT) tools. When it comes to translations, a very high level of accuracy is important, and everything in the source document must be precisely translated.
There are many areas of translation where the translator needs special expertise in order to carry out a professional translation. In these cases, the translator needs to be familiar with the terminology and have the specific background knowledge to understand the context.
Translators usually get paid per word translated.
Skills Required For An Online Translator
1. Language Skills
It goes without saying that in order to be an online translator you need to be a native speaker or have near-native fluency, and knowledge of your target language. If you don’t understand all the subtle nuances and slang, you risk misinterpreting it and delivering a translation that’s not completely accurate.
2. Computer Skills
Translation is usually performed on the computer, so you will need to have a good grasp of commonly used office programs – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.
Additionally, knowing how to use computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool software will surely be to your advantage. CAT tools for translation are used for editing, managing, and storing translations to help translators increase their productivity.
3. Writing Skills
To be a good translator you must also be a very good writer in your target language. Anyone can translate words, but the ability to translate sentences/paragraphs to make sense and flow flawlessly while not losing their original meanings is a skill.
How Much Do Online Translators Make?
Though the pay varies by company and position, the yearly average salary is $55K according to Indeed.
The top pay company can go as high as $65.78 per hour or $136,822 per year.
Top Online Translation Jobs
Lionbridge is a crowdsourcing company that outsources a number of services, including translation. With 3.5 billion units translated and 300+ languages supported, the company has provided services to medical providers, tech companies, financial agencies, insurance companies, courts, and more.
Lionbridge was also named as one of America’s Best Large Employers and The Best Employers for Diversity by Forbes.
After registration, you will be contacted if there is a project available matching your language expertise. You can accept the work and work on your own terms and schedule.
- Native English speaker or near native-level
- Minimum of 3 years of translation experience (specialized in financial, economic, and legal documents translation is preferred)
- CAT tool experience is a plus
2. Linguistic Systems
Linguistic Systems has translated content into/from 120+ languages via 7,500 expert translators over the span of 50+ years. The company has provided translation services to tens of thousands of clients across dozens of industries including medical, life sciences, technology, business, and legal.
- 2 years of translation or interpreting experience
- Bachelor’s degree as well as expertise in one or more of the industries it serves
- Legal permit to work in the U.S.
3. World Lingo
World Lingo hires freelance translators in two categories: generalist or specialist. They will only use you for translation into your native tongue and for projects that are targeted for the country in which you reside.
In other words, translating a project from Spanish to English requires your native language to be Spanish and you have to reside in America or any other country that speaks English as the national language.
- A minimum of 2 years of experience as a translator
- A university degree in your area of specialty
- Native speaker of the target language
Gengo provides professional translation services in more than 37 languages. Based in Japan and the U.S., Gengo aims to provide high-quality translation within hours.
With over 65,000 customers, Gengo has done translating work for YouTube, Amazon, Airbnb, Bloomberg, the New York Times, and many other well-known names.
To work for Gengo, you need to be of legal age and be a U.S. citizen (whether or not residing in the U.S.). Income varies across languages depending on customer demand and job availability.
How to get started with Gengo:
- Create a free account and take the two-part test
- Once approved, familiarize yourself with their style guide and workbench and start translating
- Payments are automatically added to your account
- Pass the Pro qualification test to unlock access to more challenging projects at higher reward rates
5. American High-Tech Transcription and Reporting
American High-Tech Transcription and Reporting is a woman-owned company offering both translation and transcription services. The company translates various types of documents including audio, videos, website content, and reports into various languages.
All inquiries and applications must be sent to the company’s email address.
- U.S. resident or citizen
- Pass a background check
- Certified as a translator through a federal or state court interpreter’s program
Language Line is one of the most reputable companies offering interpretation and translation services. The company offers document translation services for 240 languages across multiple industries, including but not limited to business, healthcare, financial services, insurance, and government.
There are also interpretation services for on-site and on-demand over the phone and webcam.
Acclaro offers high-quality and professional translations in 125+ languages to some of the world’s leading brands that include IBM, Visa, Facebook, and Lyft.
The company hires freelance translators and editors with 3 years of experience and a university degree.
Flexjobs is a membership-based job site that offers hand-screened remote jobs to freelancers. It is free to browse, but you need to have a membership in order to apply.
There are over 50 categories of remote flexible jobs on Flexjobs. To search for a translation job, just type in “translation” and choose remote to get relevant jobs.
Acquired by Smartling in 2016, VerbalizeIt is a translation company that provides translation services to 150 languages.
VerbalizeIt assigns translators and editors to dedicated accounts to give added consistency for the customers. If you have worked with a certain customer before, you will most likely be assigned to it again.
To start, you need to fill out an online application and take a short proficiency test. You can start getting jobs after passing the test.
Payment is issued directly to your bank account first of every month.
TextMaster is the leading professional translation company providing translation services to over 50 languages. The agency has more than 10,000 clients in 110 countries all over the world.
In order to qualify, applicants need to sign up on their website and take a test. If you qualify, you can start picking jobs that you’d like to work on.
With TextMaster, every order is processed instantaneously and most translations are delivered within 24 hours.
Once the project is approved by the client and funds are transferred to your TextMaster account, you can withdraw your earnings to your PayPal or Payoneer account.
CyraCom is a language leader that provides interpretation and translation services to thousands of organizations across the US and worldwide for over 25 years.
The company has provided interpretation and translation services to tens of thousands of clients across dozens of industries including medical, life sciences, technology, business, and legal.
They provide services in over 200 languages in various industries, including healthcare, business, government, insurance, education, and finance.
12. Language Services Associates
Language Services Associates is one of the largest and fastest-growing language services providers in the world that offers flexible opportunities for translation and interpretation services.
They have provided services in over 200 languages across virtually every industry. There are opportunities for telephone interpreting, translation and localization, video remote interpreting, face-to-face interpreting, sign language interpreting, and language assessments.
The schedule is flexible and you can work anywhere in the world. You have the flexibility of negotiating your pay with the client.
13. Blend Express
Blend Express, formerly One Hour Translation, is a translation service provider that translates content to 120 languages.
Join 25,000 other language experts from around the world and begin working whenever and wherever you want. You can select from a variety of types of projects, and can take on as much or as little work as you want.
To apply, create an account, pass the online exam, receive certification, and start working!
14. Transparent Language
Transparent Language provides translation services to U.S. government personnel, the military, public libraries, universities, and business executives. They do require a minimum of 1 to 2 years of experience in translation and a knowledge of translation software.
ProZ is home to the world’s leading translator community where millions of freelance translators look for translation gigs. It is free to use and big for jobs you’re interested in. There is also an option to upgrade to a paid membership which gives you access to their Blue Board and find some of the best gigs.