Real life reasons for choosing a career as a professional freelance translator

April 4, 2016
Real life reasons for choosing a career as a professional freelance translator

We recently looked at five great reasons to be a freelance translator. It was a topic which generated a lot of debate, including many individuals based around the world sharing their reasons for becoming freelance translators. So we thought it would be good to share some of those real life examples of what it was that first inspired people to consider professional translation as a career. 

Love of language

For many freelance translators, a lifelong love of languages was at the heart of their career choice. Iwona PB comments:

“It just happened, quite naturally. To be honest, being in this business is a like a vocation for me. I studied Applied Lingusitics with translation and interpretation as my core modules. I wanted to be a translator since high school!”


The convenience of the freelance lifestyle is certainly a big attraction for many. In particular it can work well for those with young children or with health concerns that mean they cannot commit to the demands of working 9-5. Anne Chadwick Wendrich sums it up:

“I started translating and proofreading from home because my health wasn't good enough to leave the house much. I've always been very good at languages, so translating and EFL teaching was about all I could do then. These days I'm still good at languages and now I have the added experience from that time, and freelance translation works well as something to do alongside my current studies (Latin American Studies with Spanish, with a view to taking an interpreting course in the future). My health still doesn't permit me to survive more than one full work week, so I need to know I can turn down work if I need to - for me, non-freelance isn't really an option.”

Anne Hansen Guzman concurs:

“I wanted to find a way to supplement my family's income and to stay at home with my children at the same time. 4.5 kids and almost 8 years into it and it's been working out pretty well. I also love it!”


Then of course there are those who fell into working freelance by pure chance, when circumstances such as redundancy essentially forced the decision upon them. Jan Willem van Dormolen explains:

“I got fired from my job as music teacher (local government thought that music lessons were not important enough to subsidize anymore). Best thing that happened to me in a long time. I now play music when and what I want, can determine my own working hours and I make three times as much money.”

Meanwhile Carmen Corona de Alba comments:

“I left my job to keep an eye on my children temporarily and became a permanent freelance translator.”

Blended careers

Many translators also choose to work freelance so that they can translate flexibly, alongside other careers. Alex Lichanow comments:

“It was a natural choice to stock up my salary from my QA and PM jobs by freelancing. It is what I learned after all. I am still working as a PM for now but will then go full freelance when the new dump takes over the project management for our client in December.”

Daniel Tamayo adds:

“I enjoy the translation process very much, and it helps me be a better interpreter.”

Final thoughts

What were your reasons for becoming a freelance translator? Are you happy with your career choice? Share your thoughts via the comments. 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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