How to Start a Translation Business

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

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Translators convert documents, books and other forms of writing from one language to another. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of job growth for translators and interpreters is expected to increase much faster than average until the year 2020. You can parlay this demand for foreign language help into a home-based or traditional business.

Become Fluent

Become fluent at speaking at least a couple of languages. This usually means learning one language in addition to your native tongue. You can learn a second language online, through a college or university or through immersion in the language, such as by spending some time living in a foreign country.

Become Certified

Consider seeking certification as a translator. While this isn't mandatory for starting a translation business, it can help demonstrate your skills to potential clients. You can seek certification through organizations like the American Translator's Association, the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators and the International Medical Interpreters Association.

Organize Your Business

Decide if you want to work by yourself, doing all of the translating or if you want to bring others in to help you. If you want to keep your business small and simple, you can translate only your native tongue and the additional language or languages you speak. In this case, you will only take on the work you can handle alone. If you would like to have a larger business and take on more clients, hire other translators fluent in additional languages.

Set Up Your Business

Choose a location for your business. You can run a home-based translation business and communicate with your clients over the phone and via the Internet, keeping overhead low. If you prefer to work from a business location, secure a commercial office or suite of offices from which to offer your translation services. No matter where you choose to work, you'll need basics like a business license, a phone, computer, printer and office productivity software.

Market Your Business

Decide which types of clients to seek for your translation business. You may decide to focus on one or two markets, such as legal or medical organizations, or you might seek additional clients, such as individuals, law enforcement agencies, government agencies and businesses that specialize in importing and exporting products. Use a variety of marketing tools and methods to attract business to your translation company, including a website and blog, online and offline ads and direct mail.

2016 Salary Information for Interpreters and Translators

Interpreters and translators earned a median annual salary of $46,120 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, interpreters and translators earned a 25th percentile salary of $34,230, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $61,950, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 68,200 people were employed in the U.S. as interpreters and translators.