Why being a Freelance Translator when you’re still a student is a good idea

By Nilla Meri
In Translation
May 2nd, 2017

There can be various reasons why being a freelance translator when you’re still a student can be really helpful. Probably the main reason would be financing your studies, but you can also work to gain experience, and understand more about what you enjoy translating.

Let’s agree on the fact that freelance translations probably won’t be enough to finance your studies at University of Chicago where you have to pay more than $62,000 a year for example. However, if you are a passionate, hardworking, good quality translator you can ease your college expenses to an immense degree while you are gaining experience.

Here are some points on how freelance translation jobs can be helpful for your academic life

1. You can make some extra money

Everyone deserves a reward for their work. So, if you are a good translator, you can start charging your clients even if you’re still a student. It’s ok to do some free translations to gain experience, but start to get into the mindset of charging for your work. Furthermore, if you start specialising in very niche fields, you can charge even more.


2. You can manage your own time

It is not easy for a college student to work while studying. However, you can spend your free time working on your translations. If you only have two spare hours per day between your classes, you probably won’t be able to work as a waiter. But you can sit in a café, turn your computer on, and translate while drinking your warm cup of coffee instead of playing Candy Crush on your phone for two hours. Ta-da! You made some money and most probably you learned something new.


3. It helps your academic life

Depending on what kind of translations you’ll specialise in, you can turn your work into your studies and your studies into your work. There are many interesting articles that people in your department might not be able to read and use because they lack the linguistic knowledge to read them. If you’ll help translating them, more people will be able to use those articles as a source for their studies. You can translate them to learn for your own good and for your friends’. I promise, you won’t forget a single sentence from the articles you will translate.


4. Learn more about the languages you are translating

It is more common that translators translate from a language that they have learned into their mother language. Of course the other way is possible too, although less recommendable and more complicated. If you translate from your mother tongue into a second language, then always make sure you find a native speaker of that language that can proofread your translation. But either way, you will need to be familiar with your second and third language. It’s a really good idea to boost your vocabulary in the languages you speak. And what’s better way than to read in these languages? Use your spare time to read novels, articles, websites or even listen to audiobooks in your non-native languages. Do it now, when you have time. It will make your job much simpler when you’ll start working and you won’t have the privilege of free time anymore.


If you are thinking of becoming a translator, start doing something now! You can start from checking the tips on the article, “Top 10 Tips for New Freelance Translators”. As a second step, think about the type of translation you’d like to specialise in. You can start by thinking about what you already enjoy, and then do more of it. Is it scientific articles? Newspaper columns? Do you like fiction novels? Or do you enjoy learning the lyrics of your favorite songs by heart? Here you go, choose something that you like and start translating now.



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4 Responses to “Why being a Freelance Translator when you’re still a student is a good idea”

  1. Alex Marsh says:

    I think opting the profession of a translator is a nice idea. It has a variety of benefits as shared above. Being a translator I have improved a lot of skills in the past years. This industry has never ending employment options. Being a freelance translator while studying can help to build a better career in the translation field.

  2. Sarah says:

    Gosh, the past few weeks I’ve been worrying quite a bit about going into full time translation. I’m about to start my final year of a languages degree and can’t face going back to the hotel I was previously working in. Then suddenly I clicked on your page and came across this article… I believe that is synchronicity! Thanks 😊

    • Hey Sarah,
      well this must be a sign for you! If you’re still a student I think it’s really good that you’re looking at getting experience before getting your degree. Your motivation and determination will make you successful, I’m sure of that 🙂

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