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I am an undergraduate student in University, studying French and German.

I am interested in getting into freelance translation of texts on the internet, translating from French or German into English.

This usually includes two types of jobs:

  1. Translation of text.
  2. Proofreading of other translations.

I want to know what sort of qualifications are required to do this.

For example, does one need a degree, certification, etc? Or does one just have to be competent enough in the language to do this?

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Speaking just in IT, certifications can mean the world, or nothing... In my case, they mean nothing. I get my jobs based on my experience and ability to adapt. If you are translating, certificates just mean you can pass a test. If you are able to speak it fluently, that would most likely be enough.

When applying to the projects, I'd probably recommend writing your letter to them in English, French and German, showing you can do it on the fly. I would also link to any other translation works you've done in the past to show your track record.

You can also start just on Open Source projects, as many of the smaller ones are always looking for translators. You may need a bit of programming experience, but it should be minimal if you work with the developer.

  • I do have some programming experience and was looking to get into this niche specifically. Thank you for your answer. Very informative. +1 – Patrick Sebastien Aug 20 '13 at 17:05
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My brother is a translator freelancer as well. Although he finished his college and is graduated professor of English and French, no one has ever asked him about his diploma. Somehow, people think it's natural that you are graduated if you're doing translation. Of course, he scanned his diploma and is ready to show it on request.

What I would do in your place is put lower price because you're still a student and be honest with your employees. You can tell them that until you graduate, your rate will be lower, and later they can expect it to increase (after you graduate).

Many clients will have someone to check up on your sample translations and you should be prepared for that. They may have lower standards if they know that you're still undergraduate.

The key is to be honest and not to misrepresent yourself.

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The qualifications are quite obvious: very good knowledge of the language in the particular domain.

Some companies may require formal proof in form of some renown exam, some need references, portfolio, some others may just give you a job for trial.

But some things, like official documents, VAT invoices etc. must be translated by licensed translator (for example, in Poland). So if there is the institution of licensed translator in your country, you can consider making the papers, because it would give you some comparative advantage over the concurrence (every bigger company would need a licensed translator anyway).

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