TRANSLATOR QUALIFICATIONS AND INTERPRETER QUALIFICATIONS FOR STAY AT HOME JOBS

Want to earn money online with those language skills you already have!? Fantastic, let me show you how!

Now we know that you already have ‘mad skills’, but there are a certain number of translator qualifications and interpreter qualifications that will help get you to the top earners position a lot faster and enjoy the fruits of your home based job.

Another great thing about this industry, aside from the abundance of stay at home jobs, is that you can be a translator and/or interpreter as a freelancer or as an employee. It’s totally up to you.

By the end of this blog post you’ll have a much better understanding about:

  • How to become a freelance translator – 5 steps to success
  • Several great translation courses that will help you upskill for success
  • How to become a certified interpreter
  • Some awesome interpreter courses that will give you the direction you need

While the focus of this blog is qualifications and courses for translators and interpreters of all experience levels, you can also check out this translation and interpretation blog which dives deeper into the job description, typical salaries and hourly rates, and a stack of great resources to help you find online translation jobs and interpreter jobs from home.

Equipped with all this information you’ll understand much more about how to start carving out a career in the translation and interpretation industry, earn money online and enjoy the fruits of working your stay at home job.

Let’s get stuck into it!

HOW TO BECOME A FREELANCE TRANSLATOR

1. GET SOME INSPIRATION

I assume that you’re reading this blog because you have a passion for languages and you like the idea of earning money online doing something that you enjoy. If that resembles the truth for you, then fair enough, you’ve got your head screwed on right in my opinion!

From my past experience in learning French and Spanish I found that one of the best ways to immerse myself in the languages, short of living in a country where these are the native languages, was to attend speaking groups where people get together to simply chat in another language. The simple act of being in that environment was incredibly inspiring and motivating.

I recommend jumping onto Meetup or Google and searching your local area for a language speaking group. Google something like ‘Spanish speaking groups in Chicago’ (obviously enter your area/city) and you’ll find some results like this:

Alternatively, taking lessons is another great way to be around people who share your love for languages.

When you’re around others you’ll have plenty of chances to talk to others about translation and interpretation. It’ll only be a matter of time before you find someone who works in that space who you can chat to about how to become a freelance translator.

If you prefer the comfort of your own home, check out some language forums or Facebook groups. It won’t be the same experience as meeting others face to face, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

Of course, doing a beginner course on a platform like Udemy or Future Learn will also give you some great insights into the day to day tasks involved in becoming a freelance translator.

2. TRAINING

There isn’t an industry wide requirement for translator qualifications, training or a degree, however certain employers may require you to have some form of training, particularly if you’re interested in industry specific freelance translation such as legal or medical.

Regardless of an employer’s requirements, it’s always a good idea to develop skills through training and gaining translator qualifications as it adds credibility to your resume and profile, it will give you more confidence when going for jobs, and speeding up the rate at which you improve will also speed up the rate at which you can increase what you charge as a freelance translator.

There’s a plethora of training programs and courses available both online from a range of sources, and face to face at schools, colleges and universities.

Naturally online will have more flexibility to undertake training or gain translator qualifications, but face to face would help you meet others in the same field so you can chat about the course work and how they’re getting started in the industry.

Further down we have some translation courses which are a good starting point and will also help you get some inspiration.

3. BUILD YOUR EXPERIENCE

Ok, by now you’re all juiced up after seeking inspiration and connecting with others who also love languages, you’ve taken a course, gained some translator qualifications and noticed some real improvement in your translations, but now you want to put your foot on the accelerator and get some industry experience as a freelance translator.

Here are some ways that you can gain experience on your journey to becoming a freelance translator:

  • Informal / Volunteer Work – offer your services either for free or for a minimal cost to a charity, a not for profit, a community group, an international sports event or any other source that may have low risk documents that need translating such as flyers for an event, letters from a sponsor child or internal communications within an international organization. Translators Without Borders is one resource where you can volunteer.

  • Internships – companies often receive projects that are smaller than what they want to be working on, which is a great opportunity for an intern to get some practice and alleviate the more experienced translators from the small-fry stuff.

  • Mentorship – if you know someone, or can find someone who can give you some guidance and edit your translations in exchange for your service, then it’s win win. Members of the American Translators Association can apply for the ATA Mentoring Program, which is just one resource worth checking out.

  • Bid low – many clients seeking freelance translators just want the cheapest price, and let’s face it, you get what you pay for. So while you’re a beginner there’s no harm in bidding low on freelance sites like Fiverr, Upwork or Freelancer to help you win some projects and work out your weak spots that need improvement. Keep in mind that the client may not be able to check your work, so you won’t want to take on higher-risk projects such as translating safety instructions or interpreting legal cases.

4. CERTIFICATION

While there’s no universal path to become a certified translator that covers the translation industry as a whole, there are several organizations that offer some form of certification or guidance towards further education.

Certification is of greater focus when it comes to interpreters, however you’ll be in a commanding position in the face of clients if you can say that you’re certified with translator qualifications.

These resources will help you with how to become a certified translator:

American Translators Association – take an exam to be ATA certified for translation from English into another language, or into English from another language.

United States Courts – has an examination to become a certified translator in Spanish-English for prospective federal court interpreters. They recommend contacting your local federal court to check if there’s a need for interpreters in the language that you specialize in.

5. TIPS & TOOLS

Inspired, check. Trained and upskilled, check. Gaining experience, check. Certified, optional check.

Now here are some tips and tools to help you get one step ahead of the other freelance translators so you get first dibs on the best projects out there.

  • Translate to Your Primary Language – there’s always one language that you have the deepest understanding of. You should translate into that language as it is in that language that you’ll be able to express the message the most correctly.
  • Niche down – If you have experience in a certain industry or profession such as the medical, food & beverage or marketing, then you’ll already know so much more about the language used in those spaces. Seek translation jobs in fields where you have experience, as being a generalist can lead to more translation mistakes (if you try to translate jargon in an industry you’re not familiar with) and less pay (as people will pay more for an industry specific professional).
  • Competitive Price – check the market to see what others are charging. You can even post a simple dummy project on a freelance site to see what sort of bids come through. Try not to take up too much of other people’s time though.
  • Computer Assisted Translation Tools – these tools assist translators and come in many forms such as translation memory (TM) tools, spell checkers, dictionaries, terminology managers and grammar checkers to name a few. TM tools create a ‘first-pass’ translation that must then be edited by a person to correct the errors and improve the quality. Check out these TM tools, but keep in mind there are plenty of others:
  • OmegaTThis is one of the few totally free TM tools
  • Wordfast They claim it’s the second most widely used TM tool, with Classic, Pro and Wordfast Anywhere (free and web based) versions
  • Fluency NowWestern Standard market this tool specifically to freelance translators

Just to recap on how to become a freelance translator:

  1. Get some inspiration from language speaking groups, taking lessons or doing a beginner’s course.
  2. Training – upskill for success by taking a course offered online or on campus. Get those translator qualifications. There are some entry level courses listed below.
  3. Gain experience by volunteering, offering your service at a low rate or free or find a mentor.
  4. Seek certification if you think it will give you a leg up or if it’s necessary in the stream of translation you wish to pursue.
  5. Consider our tips and find the right tools for your needs.

TRANSLATION COURSES

As discussed above, training is one of the most crucial steps to build your translator qualifications.

If you’re looking for a course that you can do online, in your own time that would be a brilliant first step in the right direction, then you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve found a selection of translation courses online from a source that is fairly priced, but most importantly has a rating and review system so you can get honest ratings based on numerous reviews.

Here are our picks of the highest rated translation courses online:

How to be a Successful Freelance Translator – At the time of writing this blog, this course appeared to be the clear winner on Udemy given its score of 4.6 stars based on over 350 reviews. This course doesn’t teach you how to translate, but focusses more on the how to earn a living as a freelance translator.

Translation In Practice – This online translation course offered by Nanjing University focusses on the ‘basic but valuable techniques’, defining what good translation is and how to produce good translations. At 4.3 stars based on only 9 reviews, it’s not exactly the best rated course, but you’ll invariably learn something.

Translation and interpreting courses in the USA – This is another great resource for interpreter and translator qualifications that is pulled together by Lexicool (who offer dictionaries and other translation resources) lists a huge range of universities and colleges offering generally post-graduate courses.

HOW TO BECOME A CERTIFIED INTERPRETER

Between getting inspired, training and getting experience, these steps are basically the same for an interpreter as they are for a translator. When it comes to certification however, there seems to be more emphasis on an interpreters qualifications.

These resources will help you with how to become a certified interpreter:

National Center for State Courts – has information and resources to point you in the right direction if you’d like to pursue the path of a court interpreter.

International Association of Conference Interpreters – have a range of resources including guidance, schools and an events calendar for budding conference interpreters.

Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters – offer an independent national certification for those in the medical profession, with several Spanish certifications accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters – offers certification in 6 languages which is validated by a third party organization. As it says in the name, this is for those looking to work in the medical profession and be a certified translator.

INTERPRETER COURSES

Interpreter courses aren’t as popular as translation courses on platforms like Udemy and Coursera, which is a shame as these teaching platforms have trusted review systems.

Regardless, here’s a collection of online courses that will help you upskill for success as an interpreter:

Interpreter Education Online – This site offers courses for medical and legal interpreters, as well as continuing education courses, online tests and Skype lessons with a certified interpreter (who could field your questions about the profession and the industry).

Medical Interpreting Training School – This resource offers intensive 40 hour courses and continuing education for prospective medical interpreters. They have a specialised Spanish-English course, and a more general ‘all other languages’ course.

Bircham International University – Offers a diploma, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and a Ph.D. degree via distance learning.

American Translators Association – This resource have gone to all the trouble to create a comprehensive list of approved translation and interpreting schools throughout the world. To find schools to help you build your interpreter qualifications, just click on your country to be auto-scrolled down the list to see their recommendations.

CONCLUSION

Whether you like the idea of stay at home jobs or being a freelancer, the translation and interpretation industries are a great way to earn money online while keeping the flexibility that you need in your life.

By now you should have a much better understanding about how to become a freelance translator or a certified interpreter with our 5 steps to success. Think inspiration, training, experience, certification and some brilliant tips and tools.

In terms of interpreter and translator qualifications, we’ve also shared several great translation courses and interpretation courses that will help you upskill for success and be the guiding light that will greatly accelerate your rate of success.

We sincerely hope that this blog has helped inform, enlighten and guide you as much as possible so that your journey to finding translation jobs from home and online interpreter jobs is smooth sailing and incredibly fulfilling.

If you’d like to better understand the basics such as the job description, typical salaries and hourly rates, and a stack of great resources to help you find online translation jobs and interpreter jobs from home, then we recommend checking out our other blog titled ‘Translation and Interpretation – Work it From Home and Make Bank (cha-ching!)’.

If you got something out of this blog, we would be endlessly grateful if you’d share freely with people you think might also gain from it. Thank you and have a fantastic day!

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