A freelance translator invoice is used by individuals who work on a contracted basis to request payment from a company or individual for translating written text from one language to another. Translators typically charge on a per-word basis, with $.10 to $.20 cents per word being the standard in the industry.
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A freelance translator is an individual fluent in at least two (2) languages with an understanding of each language’s cultural slang and subtleties that allow the translator to re-write text in another language. The best translators do all of this without writing in a way that makes it obvious to a native speaker that the language was re-written. In addition to being knowledgeable in foreign languages, many translators are fast typers, have experience in Microsoft Word, and know how to use programs such as CAD (computer-assisted translation) to ensure the proper translation of writing.
Translators and interpreters are often confused as the same profession due to their similar expertise and fluency in several languages. However, their differences lie in the fact that translators focus on written text whereas interpreters focus on verbally translating among two languages in the moment. While their skills may be similar, the role of a translator is arguably slower-paced and requires more accurate translation, where interpreters require more quick-thinking skills to translate spoken words within five (5) to ten (10) seconds of hearing them.
To become a translator, first and foremost an individual should focus on being able to fluently write (and speak) in a language other than their native. Fully-immersing oneself in a country where the studied language is spoken can offer significantly more real-world experience than books or classroom instruction can provide. This allows one to learn the social phrases and slang that otherwise wouldn’t be provided in standard teaching.
While professional education is not necessary, it can be supplemental to a translator’s resume and open up otherwise non-accessible positions within the Federal government and other institutions. A common major studied by translators is called “Language Interpretation and Translation,” and results in the earning of a standard four (4) year bachelor’s degree. As a mark of proving their skills and demonstrating their qualifications to employers, many translators opt for earning a certification through the American Translators Association (ATA). Those thinking of taking the test should know that passing it is no easy feat – as it has a passing rate of only 20%. Furthermore, it’s not cheap at a non-reimbursable cost of $525. As an overview of the test, the following apply:
- Time length to complete: Three (3) hours
- Questions: Three (3) text passages
- Passing score: Pass / Fail. Scores averaged between multiple graders – a grading flowchart can be found here.
- Cost: $525
To prepare for the test, the ATA offers a practice exam. It costs $80 for members, and $120 for non-members, and is a non-timed exam that includes passages from the previous years’ test. Unlike the official exam, the answers on the practice test are returned to the student with all errors marked on the exam. This allows students to use it as a resource for learning and improving before registering for the certification exam.
The income earned by those in the translation field weighs heavily on the language being translated, the experience of the translator, and whether the professional is employed on their own, through a company, or through the government. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average yearly income and rates earned by both translators and interpreters from all means of employment are the following: