In an increasingly globalised world, freelance translation jobs have slowly — but surely — become a legitimate career, or at least a really well-paying side hustle.
The reason? Only some have learned or mastered more than a few languages.
Forty percent of the world’s population is only fluent in one language, according to various sources.
A study by Stockholm University linguist Mikael Parkvall showed that the average number of languages spoken either natively or non-natively per person is 1.58.
This means that not only are there many jobs available, but you’ll likely not have to face much competition too — both of which are great but these are by no means the only reasons why freelance translator jobs are great.
As all you need is a stable Internet connection, you can take on freelance translation jobs anytime and anywhere — making it great for students seeking jobs they can complete in between or after classes.
Ready to secure high-paying freelance translation jobs? Here’s all you need to know:
10 best websites for high-paying freelance translation jobs
Before we begin, many factors can affect your earning as a freelance translator. It depends on the following:
- Whether you are sourcing for your clients through your website
- Whether you work for a language service provider
- Whether you are looking for freelance work through a website
- The clients that you work with
One survey showed that the average full-time freelancer makes over US$60,000.
US-based respondents, however, reported a disparity in their income according to whether they were ATA certified (ATA stands for the American Translators Association).
The average income for certified translators is US$72,000 and US$53,000 for non-certified translators.
You can click here to read more about freelancing as an international student.
This list will cover the websites you should know to source for work as a freelance translator.
Upwork is not only an open marketplace for translation, but also covers services such as copywriting, coding, data analytics, and many more.
You can negotiate with people who want to hire you on the platform. They can pay hourly or at a project rate.
If they opt for hourly billing, Upwork has a software that will periodically take screenshots of your desktop to ensure the accuracy of the billing.
Given the website’s popularity and the number of translators already on the website, unsuccessful bidding for projects is the norm and might discourage even the most enthusiastic freelancer.
What’s more, Upwork takes 20% of each freelance work completed.
Fiverr got its name for being a place where anyone could get anything for just five dollars.
It quickly turned into an all-purpose marketplace for a wide range of prices and a paragon of the gig economy.
Here, most customers are individuals who may be unaware of translation trade specifics. Freelancers who want to promote their work on this platform would have to be ready to undercharge.
The good news is that you don’t need to bid for projects here — it works the other way around. If you bag a few projects, your profile will likely climb up the search results and open up opportunities for more lucrative orders.
Like Upwork, Fiverr takes 20% of each freelance work completed.
ProZ.com is a longstanding online community for freelance translators and one of the most popular freelance translation websites.
Established in 1999, the site has a community that houses many translation professionals.
In total, ProZ.com has over 960,000 registered users in more than 200 countries around the globe, including both translation agencies and freelance translators of all types.
A freelance translator would create an account listing details of their location, language, rates, experience and services.
There is a free membership as well as a paid one.
Gengo offers various translation services to its users.
To begin, create a new account and start looking for translation jobs. These can be found on your work dashboard, containing a collection of jobs and providing you with the relevant information.
With over 21,000 translators and an efficient system that can help businesses get content translated within hours, Gengo is a top pick for SEO translation services.
That said, the site is not without its disadvantages. The application process is tedious and the site’s interface can be confusing for some users.
PeoplePerHour is another popular freelance translation website that allows users to bid for translation projects.
There are three ways freelancers are found on this platform:
- Search offers: Review and purchase available service packages
- Search freelancers: Filter sellers by level, skill, or hourly rate
- Post projects: Clients can pitch their jobs and get proposals from freelancers
The website’s interface makes it interactive for employers and freelancers. Online PeoplePerHour reviews also support the interface, making it easy to find freelancers’ ratings, portfolios, and descriptions.
Like Upwork, freelancers may face stiff competition for projects due to the large freelance community. This may compel most people to lower their freelancer prices.
PeoplePerHour’s fee structure may frustrate new freelancers or those who have yet to find high-paying projects.
TranslatorCafe has mostly the same things as ProZ, but at a smaller scale.
A smaller community means fewer jobs, but the upside is that this can lead to more quality gigs.
The interface can look a little dated, but it’s been around since 2002 and has built up a community of over 439,000 registered users.
There’s no cost to register for an account and contact translators. You are free to post jobs, but the site does charge freelancers a membership fee.
Similar to Upwork, Freelancer is another general-purpose marketplace where clients source for freelance translators and all other types of workers.
Depending on your objective, that can be an advantage or disadvantage.
As is the norm for more websites dedicated to freelance translation jobs, you can negotiate your rates with a prospective client. They can pay a fixed project rate or hourly rate.
Freelancer takes 3% on top of what the client pays you — a little lower than Upwork.
Posting a project to receive bids is free. There are, however, some optional upgrades that you can purchase to help your job get better visibility.
For example, creating a featured listing will cost you US$10.
TranslationDirectory has a listing of over 7,500 translation agencies and freelance translation jobs making it a convenient platform to connect with clients in the linguistic community.
You can sign up for a free membership if you are a native language speaker. Here, you’ll be able to search for translation jobs and bid on them.
If you’re good at a particular language, you can choose to specialise in that. Plus, you can select the type of document you are comfortable translating.
With a paid membership, users get a professional listing.
RWS is a leading provider of language translation services that offer various bundled services for clients across different industries, such as legal, medical, technical, and financial.
The site routinely ranks among the best platforms for freelance translation jobs, thanks to its deep-learning protocols and powerful tools.
It’s why freelance translators should have a proven track record of experience and expertise in the translation industry before registering and using RWS services.
Translators are also required to have a high level of proficiency in at least one pair of languages and a strong understanding of the cultural nuances of the target language.
The Open Mic is a modern blogging platform for translators packed with social features, which makes it look and function more like a social network than a blogging platform.
Here, you can share stories, videos, images, and links. You can also republish content from your blog or create new posts from scratch — think of it as a Facebook for translators.
Since it was established, the website has tried to re-focus on bringing actual customers to the platform.
If you have a personal website that promotes your translation service, TheOpenMic republishes content from your website.