1.5 Decide Between In-House and Freelance Translation

freelance translator on the beach

Freelance translators and in-house translators have very different lifestyles. Each model has different advantages and disadvantages. It is worth to note that the vast majority of translators in the world work as freelance translators.

In-house Translators

An in-house translator is hired by a specific company to perform translation services ''in-house," or on-site. Therefore, the translations will be specific to that field. In-house positions are usually accompanied by set hours and a salary, plus often includes benefits. When seeking a position, it is important to realize that you may not be spending your entire work week actually translating. Corporations and schools frequently hire translators, but overestimate the amount of work that will be coming in; your language skills may not be used as often as you would like.

Nevertheless, in-house translation jobs are a great option if you are looking for a steady paycheck and schedule or if you are interested in specializing in that industry. It is also a good way to get experience when you are first starting out in your translation career. Many agencies and clients prefer that a translator have a minimum of three to five years of translation experience before they are hired on as freelancers. An in-house position is an effective way to get that experience.

Pros Cons
  • secure salary
  • compensation package
  • working for big names add to the resume
  • learn from team-members
  • free training
  • no investment, no expenses
  • little mobility
  • no control over work
  • more stressful work environment
  • lack of independence
  • cap on earnings

Freelance Translators

As a freelance translator, it is your own responsibility to find jobs. Because you find your own work, you can set your own hours, work from home, and decide your own pay rate. Working freelance also allows you to work around other part-time jobs. A translator's salary is determined by how much they are willing to work, what they charge, and how quickly they can get documents back to the contracting company.

The payment metric for translation is primarily per word, though it is not uncommon to see jobs that pay per page or total. The amount that you charge depends on how quickly it needs to be returned to the client, as well as the length, and specialization of the words in the document. Keep in mind, like any job, your understanding and execution of your objective(s) are always a factor in determining the value of your services.

Pros Cons
  • high mobility, live and work anywhere you want
  • work on what you want for who you want
  • less stressful environment
  • high independence
  • no cap on earnings for highly productive translators
  •  lack of stability: stop working and no more money
  • no benefits such as health insurance and personal days
  • working alone is not for everyone
  • you pay your training
  • spend money on IT and monthly expenses from your pocket

Instructions to Follow

  • Check how the pros and cons described above would apply to you
  • Before investing too much in your home-office, make sure you want to be a freelance translators
  • Go read our next chapter: 1.6 Get Your First Clients

Or see index for the Ultimate Guide for Becoming a Freelance Translator






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