Can You Make Money Translating? 26 Best Ways to Get Started

  • Time to read: 9 min.

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If you’re reading this article, chances are that you love languages and wondering can you make money translating. And if you love languages, then yes, translation is possibly the career for you.

It’s a great career choice because there are so many different ways to make money as a certified translator or as a translator with in-demand language pairs: by working as a translator or interpreter, on freelance websites like UpWork and Fiverr, for translation agencies in-house or remotely from home…and more! Plus it gives you an opportunity to learn about other cultures and places around the world.

Can you make money translating? Here's how.

How Can You Make Money Translating?

In this article we’ll explore 26 of those ways—from starting out as a novice translator through becoming an expert who can command top rates. Hopefully one of them will be just what you need to get started right now.

Here’s everything you need to know to become a translator.

A. Translate Books

Translating books is a great way to get started as a translator because there’s usually plenty of work and it can be more interesting than just translating pieces of text. For example, if you want to translate children’s books, you need to know how to write for children—which is quite different from writing in your native language or doing literary translation. But if you enjoy reading and love kids’ books, this is the perfect way to start making money as a translator.

B. Translate Documents

This is an option for anyone who wants to start with relatively easy work, perhaps when you’re just starting out or want something more unusual than the usual translation jobs. It’s also good if you enjoy working on your own rather than in a team. A lot of online translation jobs where you can earn extra money or translate for money includes translating documents.

C. Translate Websites

This isn’t usually very profitable because it can be difficult finding clients; however, this way of making money as a translator might suit people who like working online and don’t want to go through the hassle of getting their qualifications recognized in another country. There are plenty of potential customers that need translators to translate their websites.

D. Translate Articles

Similar to translating websites, this is often hard work with little reward but is an option if you enjoy writing and are okay with doing different types of freelance jobs to earn money translating online.

If you prefer writing to translating, you could always make money writing technical articles.

E. Translate Emails

If you’re a fast and accurate typist who enjoys writing, translating emails is a good way to make some money as a translator. It’s also one of the easiest ways to start making cash as a translator because there are no requirements whatsoever. All you need is access to emails in another language so that you can translate them for their recipients, which you can get by using translation tools like Google Translate or Microsoft Translation services.

F. Translate Text Messages

This might seem like an unusual option but it can be surprisingly interesting—not many people realize how much more difficult translating text messages than documents is! For example, if your client asks “where do you live?” in Spanish, they’ll say “¿dónde vives?”

So if you need to translate the question, the direct translation is “where do you live.” But in actual fact it makes more sense to say “where are you from?,” which wouldn’t be a direct translation.

G. Translate Tweets

Many companies use Twitter as a marketing tool and they often need their tweets translated into other languages, so this can be a great way of making money as a translator. However, the pay isn’t usually very high so consider doing it alongside another type of work.

H. Translate Songs

If you have musical talent and love translating, why not try turning songs into different languages? It’s even better if your target language uses lyrics that are similar to the lyrics of the song you’re translating.

To get started, remember that not all songs lend themselves to this type of work and some (like opera) might be too difficult and require a more experienced translator who’s capable of understanding what they really mean and finding suitable words for each line in your target language.

make money translating movies

I. Translate Movies

This is one of those things that most people wouldn’t think would make money as a translator, but have you thought about how much there is to translate in movies? There are subtitles for the dialogue, on-screen text explaining information about things like medicine or weapons or whatever else is being used—as well as product placement—and there are often captions for anything that happens on screen (for example, when music starts playing) and any noises that characters make.

Then there is the script itself which you can use as a reference to understand what’s going on in each scene if it helps you find words for your translation; however, most of the time the script isn’t actually used as a direct translation as it is in movies with subtitles.

Here’s how to make money by making subtitles.

J. Translate Videos

If you like videos but don’t like translating songs, why not translate video clips instead? Just be careful about copyright issues and always check whether you need permission from the client before using their material.

K. Translate Games

As well as games that have already been released and need some language testing, some clients may want their games translated before they are released. Sometimes they’ll do this because the game has been developed in another country and needs to be converted into more commonly spoken languages.

Other times it might be because the client wants to expand into new regions which have different languages or release a special edition of the game with more languages available for people who speak those languages.

L. Translate Apps

Just like video games, apps can include all sorts of text that requires translation—not just messages for users but also programming code so that non-English characters are correctly displayed on screen. However, even though it’s challenging work, apps generally demand higher pay than other types of texts so’t necessarily generate as much money per hour.

M. Translate Courses

In addition to the material itself, there’s usually a lot of written text that needs to be translated for language courses—for example, grammar explanations and cultural information. One place you can look for courses to translate is Udemy.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because you can do it while it doesn’t require your full attention all the time, which means you can also do something else such as watch TV or listen to music in the background. You’ll also need excellent computer skills because many courses will require software installation and updates so if you’ve got technical problems with your machine, finding the right translation software might not be easy.

N. Translate Magazine Articles

Translating magazine articles is a good way for you to get started and build up your catalog of texts while clients can still afford to pay you reasonably low rates because the texts contain less text than other projects. However, it can still be a good way to make money through translation services as a freelance translator.

O. Translate Newspaper Articles

You might not think that newspaper articles translate into big bucks, but this type of work does require skilled translators who know how to simplify their language so that it’s easy for native speakers in different linguistic areas to understand what they’re reading. It also takes time and effort to edit the translation—including checking sources and following up with any extra information required—so isn’t often suitable for people new to translating online.

P. Translate Political Debates

If you like political debates and languages (and have excellent listening skills), you might be able to translate them for a client either as a freelance translator or as part of a translation agency. However, this type of translation work is generally paid at a low rate because there isn’t much text and what is included tends to be fairly straightforward—especially in English where word order doesn’t change so much between sentences.

Q. Translate Speeches

While speeches are similar to political debates in that they tend to have short sentences rather than long ones, it’s often easier for translators because words tend not to change their meaning despite the context they’re used in. In other words, “the man” still means the same thing whether it’s near the beginning or end of a sentence about someone elses speech!

R. Translate EU Material

Because the European Union has a number of official, non-EU languages which need to be considered when drafting new legislation and other texts, there’s often work available for translators. However, most EU texts are written by civil servants using simple language plus it’s not easy to make them shorter without making them less clear so they don’t usually pay very high rates.

S. Translate Legal Documents

If you’re comfortable working with legal documents and have excellent English reading skills (and good computer skills), translating legal text can turn out to be an interesting way of earning money through freelance translation and freelance translator jobs. It has its challenges though: legal translation may require that you check and double check your text and sources, especially if something goes wrong or someone tries to sue using your translation as evidence.

T. Translate Website Content

If you’re skilled at writing, translating website content can be an interesting way of making money since it’s creative and not always very boring! The only downside is that you need to use online tools (such as Google translate) because some webmasters demand their translators create the translations using software they know about rather than emerging or professional translation tools—and may even insist on proofing them before paying.

U. Translate Courtroom Documents

Some lawyers like to use human translators for court documents because it helps the trustworthiness of their work but this type of job can be risky if something goes wrong so rates are usually low compared to other kinds of translation. At least two pairs of eyes of experienced translators are needed for this type of work and freelance translators that work in legal areas are in high demand.

V. Translate Educational Material

Teachers need all sorts of material translated from textbooks to worksheets to manuals about the science behind a project. If you have good English writing skills and can follow instructions, translating educational material can be fun, interesting and a refreshing change from the usual types of translation available online.

W. Translate Language Forum Posts

Lots of people post messages in various languages on language forums so it doesn’t take long to build up an impressive catalog providing you’re willing to persevere through all types of different text—especially if your native language is not the one most often used in these kinds of forums (at least in English speaking ones). You’ll also need excellent English skills to deal with any questions asked about your work by other forum members!

X. Translate Instagram Posts

Since so many people use Instagram in so many different languages, it’s possible to make money by translating Instagram. However, the texts posted are often short and don’t pay very high rates despite the fact that they can be interesting!

Y. Translate Political Campaigns

Writing campaign speeches is one thing but if you’re good at writing (and especially creative writing like fiction or dialogue), then you may well find this type of translation work fun and challenging too! Just remember not to mix politics with religion when trying to write about them—in any language!

Z. Translate Academic Speeches

If you enjoy listening to academic speeches (especially ones given in your own native language) and like to research topics which interest you, why not try making money online by translating them? Just remember to include the name of the person giving the speech and (if possible) their academic qualifications too since it can help to make your translation sound more like a text written by an expert on the subject.

can you make money translating

Wrap Up

So can you make money translating? Yes. But remember, there are only a limited number of well-paid translation jobs available so if your goal is to earn a decent wage from home online then you’ll need to think about how best to use the time that you’ve got since translation alone isn’t enough to earn much money.

Having said that, once you’re confident in your English writing skills and have good knowledge of your native language plus one or two others, it’s possible to make a fair amount of money online by translating texts for other people—especially if you can find work which matches up with your interests.