Ways to Make Money as a Translator

If you are a translator, it does not mean that the only possible way for you to earn money is by translating texts. In fact, there are many other alternative careers in the industry that can be either an additional source of income or a full-time occupation one can switch to after working as a translator. The only requirement to change the profession to one of them is probably some considerable experience in translation. So ways to make money in this industry are vast. Here is the list of 15 ideas of what one can do as a translator.

Translation itself

Translating for Clients Directly

This is probably one of the most obvious occupations that cross one’s mind when thinking about the translation industry. It is also one of the most widespread modes of work in the field. Over half of all translators in the US work as individual contractors. The key to success in this field is to build a strong client base that would provide a stable workload. One of the most valuable things about being an independent translator is the ability to choose the projects to work with on one’s own.

Working for Translation Agencies

It is another most common option for those who are not much willing to look for the clients on their own. Various translation agencies across the US often have drastically different prices and terms for translators. If one decides to work for a translation agency, it is important to choose wisely. Otherwise one can end up working at ridiculously low rates doing the boring job one despises. But of course, this is the worst-case scenario. Many translators successfully work in translation agencies and make good money.

Establishing Your Own Translation Agency

This is what the first two groups mentioned usually want to achieve after having worked in the industry for a few years. And for a good reason. Once you found your own translation agency you start earning money not only from your direct work as a translator but also from the work of others. However, starting a venture also requires good business and negotiation skills. In addition, having one’s own translation agency requires the ability to effectively manage people and organize work.

Proofreading Others’ Translations

This is not exactly a translation, but rather the stage of text production that follows the translation made by someone else. So it is more like the work of an editor or a proofreader. Such a job is often not much highly paid but it is possible to process many texts in a short period of time without feeling as tired as if one would be doing the translation. A good thing about it is that it can be easily combined together with other careers in the field so that one’s work is diversified and less tiring.

Teaching translators

Teaching Translation Courses

If you are good at teaching and you enjoy it, the idea to try to work as a teacher in a translation course might work very well for you. Many professors at colleges combine their work as teachers and translators. If you don’t have a necessary degree, it is not a problem. One can work as a teacher in some private courses. The only thing you need is a decent experience in translation that you can share with your students.

Making an Online Translation Course

It is not necessary to work at any educational institution in order to teach others how to translate. With a camera and basic knowledge of making slideshows one can create an own online course in translation and teach hundreds of students at the same time. The compiled course can be sold to an online school or on your own business website where it can be purchased. Although this work may occupy you for a few years (let’s say one can create about 5-8 courses maximum), the courses themselves can be very popular for some more time, bringing profit even in a few years after publishing a course.

Establishing One’s Own Translation School

With excellent organizational skills and passion for education, one can found his/her own translation school. You can hire professionals who will teach translation in many different languages and offer the service of your school to graduates in related fields like foreign linguistics. Who knows, maybe later you will decide to expand and create a network of schools across the country and then reach the global level.

Offering Courses on Passing ATA Exams

If you have experience of successful passing of the ATA certification exam, why not share your secret with others on how to do it. This certificate is rather pricey and passing it is high stakes. So there are many translators willing not to miss this chance and pay someone to help them prepare for it. Statistic says that only about 20% of those who apply for ATA certification pass the exam. So the niche of offering a preparation course for ATA can be extremely profitable.

Teaching Translators How to Market Services

A translator who works as an individual contractor often needs to be a good entrepreneur. Many translators are good at what they do, but only a few are good business people. By teaching translators how to conduct their business and market their services one can actually make good money on their own. Of course, in order to teach others how to do something one needs to a pro in it him/herself and understand the current trends of digital marketing and know what practices may best suit the needs of translators.

Teaching Translators How to Work on Freelance

This topic is rather vast and involves various aspects such as time management, advertising, and pricing strategies, the places to look for clients and the best freelance platforms to work on. If you are a successful freelance translator, you can additionally make money teaching others how to achieve the same by becoming more competitive in the market and choosing the right strategies for their business. 


Creating a Website for Translators

Maybe apart from foreign human languages, you are also familiar with coding and programming languages or you know someone who does (you can even order services from some agency)? Then it might be a good idea to create some forum or a community platform for translators like Proz.com. Having a popular website one can earn in multiple ways – you can get paid for ads published on the website (by you or by a third party) or have a subscription plan. Either way, it is a good passive income for a translator.

Reviewing Translator CVs

Most likely one cannot make good money solely by doing this work, but it can be a nice way to break the translation routine and earn extra. If you are good at writing CVs and know specifically what needs to be included in a resume of a translator, reviewing CVs of translations and giving advice on their improvement can be a nice and relatively easy way to make money in the industry.

Creative ways

Writing Books on Translation

There is a considerable amount of books written and published on the topic of translation. However, not all of them are equally helpful and engaging. For those who enjoy writing and translation, writing an own book or a series of books highlighting different aspects of translation is a good way to earn good money and enjoy the creative process. If a book has a great success among readers, it may not only make one rich but also famous. 

Keep a Blog on Translation

Earning from a blog is similar to making money by creating a website for translators. But in this case, you do not need to create a platform for many users but rather write articles on translation-related topics. The themes may not necessarily be dedicated to professional aspects of the industry. You can share your vision, tell some funny stories and anecdotes from your experience as a translator, and discuss current trends in the field. This is an ideal way to make money and enjoy the working process.

Creating a YouTube Channel on Translation

YouTube has recently become a huge platform where people of all professions (and even kinds) can make good money. By posting educational and entertaining videos dedicated to the topic of translation you may not necessarily have a multimillion auditorium, but you will definitely have a niche that is currently not much competitive. If your videos become popular among your target audience, you will definitely be able to earn with monetization and integration on YouTube. 

So as shown above, there are vast career opportunities and ways to make money as a translator. Even if one is not interested in translating texts anymore, he/she would still be able to find a job in the industry that would be pleasurable, inspiring, and profitable at the same time.

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