The Main Advantages And Disadvantages of Working as a Freelance Translator

Nov 08, 2017

Content the main advantages and disadvantages of working as a freelance translator

We think that working as a freelance translator is amazing. However, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Then again, if you’ve been balking at the idea, that may be because you haven’t considered all of the great perks as well. So, let’s lay it all out there, the good the bad and the ugly. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of working as a freelance translator.

The Advantages

  • There Are Now More Freelance Translator Employment Opportunities Than Ever

Now more than ever, companies are expanding their ventures into other countries. This is often easy as many companies can operate largely online. This often eliminates much of the physical expenses related to expanding operations. As they do this, they need translation and localization professionals to help.

In fact, find a freelance translator is often at the top of the list of things to do when opening up to overseas markets. Of course, there are also many translation jobs in the civil and private sector as well.

  • This Can be a Very Lucrative Career

How much do translators make? Translators make a median salary of almost 45K per year. That’s not bad. Add to that the predicted job growth for translation professionals, and this is a real perk.

  • A Job as a Freelance Translator is Often Flexible

No job is perfectly flexible. You’ll always have deadlines and urgencies. However, working as a freelance translator is about as flexible as you can get. This means that in large part you will be able to work your schedule around personal and family obligations. Imagine going to a dental appointment or parent teacher meeting without having to get your boss to preapprove it or worrying about your work schedule. That’s pretty nice.

  • The Assignments Can be Varied And Interesting

As a freelance translator, you will work with a variety of clients. You’ll may even be lucky enough to work on assignments that touch upon a lot of interesting subjects. Just remember that the more you know, the more exciting your work will be, so keep gaining skills and  new languages.

  • You Control The Work You Accept

It’s true! Nobody is going to tell you to accept any assignment that doesn’t interest you or compensate you like you deserve. Your only obligation is to ensure that the jobs you do take are completed on time and meet quality standards.

The Disadvantages

  • It Isn’t For People Who Struggle to Budget

There are plenty of people looking to hire a freelance translator. However, that’s no guarantee of a steady, predictable paycheck. Some clients will pay when the job is finished. If you work for a translation service, you may get a weekly or monthly check. However, the amount can vary widely.

If you struggle to save when you make more and scrimp when you make less, this can be a problem. Make sure you have a handle on your budget before you get started.

  • You Have Clients in Different Time Zones

While it’s exciting to work with clients from all over the world, it can also be a bit of a mess. It’s not completely unheard of to be up in the late hours of the night to finish a project for a client across the ocean. It’s also not unheard of to be right back up again a few hours later tackling a translation need for someone closer to home.

  • Organization Can be a Struggle

Time management and organization are key to being a successful freelancer of any kind. You have to track your budget, keep your projects organized, and ensure that you are meeting your deadlines. If you struggle with this, be prepared to change some bad habits.

  • Interruptions Can be an Issue

You’ll have lots of flexibility. Unfortunately, there’s a downside to that. Friends and family may assume that it’s okay to drop in on you at any time. If you aren’t careful, you could become the go to person when people need a ride or other favors. You’ll have to set firm boundaries.

  • Not Everyone Wants to Pay What You’re Worth

When you first learn how to start working as a freelance translator, you may take any jobs that you can. This may help establish experience and a track record of reliability. However, once you have established yourself, it’s reasonable to expect a good wage. Unfortunately, some people hire freelancers in an attempt to pay rates that are significantly lower than industry average. This is beyond frustrating.


Freelance translation is a great career.  However, you should go into it with your eyes wide open. There are negatives, but most can be overcome with a bit of effort and assertiveness.