With the advent of the internet era, a new type of employee was mobilised. But whilst home working is by no means a product of the technological revolution -- indeed, many professionals freelance or otherwise have always worked from home -- digital technology has certainly enabled a far greater number of people to work remotely.
Not many people think of the translation industry as an "industry" -- it is one of those services that quietly ticks in the background -- but for many companies it is an indispensable industry without which their global operations would grind to a halt. The translation industry is worth more than $10 Billion each year, which means anyone looking to become a freelance translator won’t be short of work. Translation is also an industry that’s ideal for the bilingual freelance home worker, as you can choose exactly how much or how little work to take on and when you will be available to work, allowing the flexibility that’s essential for people with other full time responsibilities, like taking care of kids...
So how does someone go about becoming a freelance translator? Well, let’s start with the basics. Any translation agency worth its salt will only accept translators who work into their native tongue from another language in which they are fluent.
But language fluency isn’t sufficient enough in itself for successful employment as a translator. Most reputable translation companies will insist on qualifications, and there are a number of courses and certifications available for those wishing to become qualified translators, such as accreditation with the American Translators Association (ATA).
What to expect as a freelance translator
Given the fluctuating demands for specific language combinations within businesses, most translators work on a freelance basis, and from a lifestyle perspective, this is great as you have the choice to work where and when you want... and for whom you want! Once qualified, all you really need for a freelance translation career is a networked computer, email address and you’re good to go. The one major downside to life as a freelance translator -- and this is true for every self-employed person working from home -- is that there is no cast-iron guarantee of work. The onus is very much on you to proactively seek the work.
However, freelance translators usually sign up with several translation agencies simultaneously, meaning work can come in thick and fast from multiple directions, so it is important to register with as many companies as possible to ensure you have a regular influx of work. Alternatively, you can go it alone to avoid paying the agencies a commission, and seek your own clients using translation community jobsites such as ProZ -- this will take up more of your time, as you will need to market yourself and liaise directly with clients, so it may not be the best option for a busy mom, but it will mean you take home more money out of each project.