Hot Home Business: Translator

Want to work from home but not sure what you can do? The Hot Home Business Directory helps you find a business to run out of your home, lists the skills you need to do it and tells how to get started and where to get more information. Read on to find out if this Hot Home Biz is for you!

What you'll do:
Translate everything from annual reports to novels from one language into another. One translator contacted by AW translated confidential legal documents having to do with a major international financial scandal; another translated the dialogue of hit movies for use in subtitled overseas versions.

Skills you'll need:
Full fluency in at least two languages. You'll need to know how to communicate grammatically and effectively in both languages. Expertise in specialized terminology, such as medical or legal terms, is a plus. Good typing skills are also crucial.

Equipment you'll need:
A good computer, including word-processing software that can handle the needs of the languages you're using. A good printer. Dictation equipment may also be necessary, depending on the kind of clients you're working with.

Start-up costs:
$2,500 and up for computer equipment and software. Up to $300 for accreditation testing and membership if you choose to join and be accredited by the American Translators Association. $500 and up for marketing via yellow pages listings, direct mail and display/classified advertising in specialized publications.

How much you can make:
If you charge by the word, your rates will run from roughly $0.05 to $0.50 per word, depending on the languages you're translating to and from, and the complexity and urgency of the assignment. More popular translations, such as English to Spanish, tend to pay at the lower end of the scale, while Asian and Eastern European languages, and the ability to translate between two non-English languages (e.g., Lao to Latvian), tend to command a premium rate, as do assignments for the legal or financial communities.

How to break in:
Yellow pages ads, brochures, referrals. Get to know local businesses that may require multilingual material, such as companies that are trying to market their products internationally. Join the ATA and have yourself listed on its Web site. Advertise in journals that reach international customers. List yourself with services like Aleph -- the Global Translation Alliance, a service that matches translators with clients via the Internet in exchange for a percentage of your fee.

For more information:

"The Translator's Handbook," Schreiber Publishing, $24.95.

"A Practical Guide for Translators," by Geoffrey Samuelsson-Brown, Multilingual Matters, $18.95.

The Translator's Home Companion
A site devoted to the needs of translators, with links to dozens of related sites.

The National Capital Area Chapter of the ATA
The Washington, DC, chapter of the American Translators Association maintains this excellent site, which includes the organization's newsletter and other resources.


The American Translators Association
1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 220
Alexandria, VA 22314-2840
Telephone (703) 683-6100
Fax (703) 683-6122

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