3 Ways to Make More Money as a Translator

As a profession, translation and interpretation is set for 29 percent employment growth in the U.S. during the next 10 years. There will be 17,500 more jobs in this period. Naturally, some of the fruits of this growth will trickle down to you if you are a professional translator. You will grow with the industry. It’s OK if you are content with that. But we are not.

Here at Overseas DTP we want our people to grow faster than everyone else. So we asked our marketing manager for suggestions. Here is what he said:

Join a Professional Organization

A professional organization helps you connect with your colleagues and create a sense of community. You can forge new alliances and expand your business if you spend a part of your time on networking.

You can benefit even if you are not a networking-type. Participate in regular trainings, seminars, and workshops to enhance your skills. Joining a community also provides visibility to your skills and introduces you to new resources and tools. It means more clients can find your work.

Even newbie freelancers can benefit. Most professional bodies help you understand and defend your working rights. They also assist in dispute settlement and provide litigation support.

The advantages are many and if you are intent on pursuing a career in translation, you should consider becoming a member of the nearest translators’ organization in your town, state, or country.


Internationally the largest translators’ organization is FIT, Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs. Almost all the world’s national and regional groups are members of FIT. In the U.S., the American Translators Association is a FIT member. Canada next door boasts of three FIT members: Conseil des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes du Canada, Association des traducteurs et traductrices littéraires du Canada, and ORDRE DES TRADUCTEURS, TERMINOLOGUES ET INTERPRÈTES AGRÉÉS DU QUÉBEC.

Explore the FIT website to find a community of professional translators near you.

Attend Workshops and Subscribe to Journals

Our marketing manager emphasized near when he recommended joining an association. He had a valid reason.

Becoming an association member is not enough. To grow with the organization and in your career, you will have to participate in their events–seminars, workshops, and meetings. You can do none of that if you join an association of a faraway country. Given the salary a translator earns, it is simply not possible for most of them to fly to distant countries on a regular basis. Avoid the dilemma. Join a local body, become its member, and participate in its events. It will keep life simple.


In case you have more than usual interest in foreign professional bodies, you can subscribe to their journals. For instance, Union de traducteurs de Russie (UTR) publishes two journals: Мир перевода (The World of Translation) and Переводчик (The Translator). You can subscribe to either or both if you are a professional Russian translator.


Let’s assume you are a lawyer in the U.S. who has just landed a contract for a client from China. The documents you need to analyze are in Mandarin and need to be translated. Who will you hire for the job: Xi Po or Mi Jeung.

  1. Xi Po is a Mandarin-English translator and has extensive experience in technical, literary, marketing, and legal translator. But he never specialized in any of those genres.
  2. Mi Jeung is also Mandarin-English translator but she has studied Chinese and US law in university.

Of course, you will hire Mi Jeung even when she asks a premium price for her services.


The world of translation is vast. To earn more you can specialize in a field: technical, legal, literary, marketing, or any of the hundreds of others out there. You can study physics in university and be a scientific translator. Or, you can study literature and market yourself as a literary translation specialist. Specialists tend to earn more.


Translation as a profession is poised for robust growth during the next 10 years. You may see your income rise even if you do not go out of your way to acquire new skills and clients. In this blog, we shared with you three techniques that can make your income rise faster than industry. The techniques are rather simple: Join a professional organization, read professional journals, and specialize.

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