• Juliana Castro

Freelance Translator: What is it and what qualities should they have?

Updated: May 9, 2019

To be a freelance translator is no easy task, yet it is a job that can offer freedom and time flexibility. Nowadays, there are billions of freelance translators around the world, some of them exclusive to the industry, others that translate as a complement to their main job.

There are several barriers to overcome in order to become a good freelance translator. This profession is tough and should not be taken as a simple method to "make some change".

In this article I will talk of these barriers and how these can be erased, as well as other tips for those who are willing to venture in this industry.


Translation is a job that can be done as a dependent worker, for a company or another entity, or as an independent worker.

Every translator must master both their native language, as well as the languages they translate from. Mostly, a professional translator only translates into their native language and not the opposite.

It is very easy to find issues when translating. Some of these are related to the low quality of the source text, like incomplete or badly written texts, and others are related to the technicality, cultural aspects, etc. of the document. All of this requires for the translator to have the necessary skills to complete this job.

Here I shall list a few skills that are crucial for a translator to have:

a) Excellent command of their native/second language (to be an excellent writer with extensive knowledge of grammar and different writing styles);

b) Extensive cultural knowledge in both languages (eg. to mind and be aware of cultural differences);

c) To be an avid learned and researcher (terminology, words, local concepts, etc.);

d) Great computer skills (fast typing skills and the ability to understand how different tools [CAT tools inc.] work);

e) To be a specialist in one or more fields of expertise;

f) Self motivation and organisation (in order to market and sell their services);

g) Management skills (a f. translator must ALWAYS deliver their translations in due time, no matter how busy they can be!);

h) Customer service skills;

i) To provide an accessible and affordable service.

I hope I have enlighted some of you about being a freelance translator and the necessary skills to become one.

Share your opinion in the comments or email me at

Stay tuned, for more articles are to come!


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