Getting Qualified as a Translator

Working as a freelance translator is both a business and a profession and successful translators make a substantial investment in three vital areas:

Professional Expertise

Translating needs a high level of expertise both linguistically and in terms of the subject matter. Your potential customers whether they are translation companies or direct clients will naturally expect proof of this. Both degree level qualifications and practical working experience in relevant fields are important. For example, the University of Salford offers a Master of Arts Diploma in Advance Studies for Translation and Interpreting, as do other universities.

Here some course options available in the UK and overseas:

In the UK, whilst there is no legal obligation for translators to join a professional body, potential customers will normally prefer to work with translators who are members of recognised professional organisations, such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists and the Institute of Translation & Interpreting (see sites of interest for more information).

Setting up a Business

Freelance translating is a business just like any other. You must market yourself, invoice clients promptly, collect debts, pay creditors, do your accounts, take out professional indemnity insurance and insure your equipment. This may seem daunting but there is a wealth of help available - business advice centres, your bank's small business adviser and books on starting your own business. Use the help, which is there!


The minimum acceptable equipment is a PC with a target language word processing package and, because most work is via the Internet, broadband connection is essential - as it will provide a more secure means of sending and receiving large files. Other standard office equipment such as photocopying and answer phone should also be included within your office set up.


IT is an essential component for any language service provider and this will include investment in Translation Memory capabilities, project management software and consideration of making use of Cloud computing capabilities. Leading providers in these vital areas regularly take part in the ATC's annual conferences.



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