Guide to Getting Online Translation Jobs

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published January 5, 2021

Updated February 22, 2021

Published January 5, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Translating text and audio is an important part of being able to overcome communication barriers. Although translation software and algorithms can help translate some types of content online, they aren't always accurate. Many situations require the nuance of a real person who can come up with the best translation for a word, conversation or document. If you have the ability to communicate in multiple languages, you may be qualified to work as a translator online.

In this article, we discuss what online translation jobs are, review the basics of getting online translation jobs and explore the types of translation positions available.

What are online translation jobs?

People who have online translation jobs use remote technology to accurately interpret one language into another form. This can include transcribing audio files to written text, completing live video or audio translations, translating texts and other similar duties. The specific responsibilities of an online translator depend on the type of content a business or individual wants to translate. Organizations hire online translators to make sure their content is accessible to people in multiple different languages, catering to an expanded audience.

Call centers, education programs, government entities, translation companies and other businesses outsource their translation needs to people who can remotely translate their assignments online. Many online translation jobs are available on a part-time or freelance basis, making them ideal for people who want a flexible position where they can work from home. Translation jobs require you to be competent in multiple forms of communication, so people who are multilingual, have strong attention to detail and communicate clearly can succeed as online translators.

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How to qualify for online translation jobs

Before you apply for an online translation job, it's important to have the right skills to make you a strong candidate. Translating content involves a certain level of language proficiency in addition to other soft and hard skills for managing projects producing work efficiently. If you're interested in becoming a translator, you can start working towards your career by growing those abilities. Follow these steps to gain the experience and qualifications necessary to become an online translator:

1. Assess your current abilities

Before you can begin pursuing a career in translation, you need to understand your current skills and abilities. There are translation positions available for people at varying levels of language proficiency, so try taking a language proficiency test in your area of interest. This can tell you if you have the fluency to accept certain translation positions. The results of a language proficiency test can also help you track your growth as you practice the language structure and expand your vocabulary.

In addition to fluency assessments, take tests to discover related skills like your typing speed and reading comprehension. Once you understand your strengths and weaknesses, you can compare your qualifications against postings for online translation jobs, looking for ones that most closely meet your abilities.

2. Decide on a focus area

Think about what kind of online translation job interests you most to help you determine the best qualifications to pursue. Some aspects of online translation, such as captioning, can be completed independently, while others like live interpretation require constant interactions with others. Decide on the type of translation work that interests you most, then focus on building skills in those areas. Research your ideal position and start thinking about how to realistically gain the qualifications essential for that role.

If you're proficient in multiple languages, you can choose a language to focus on or indicate that you can take on several types of translation assignments. Some companies need translators that can work with clients who speak a particular language while others accept outsourced requests in multiple languages. Thinking about what languages you like to work with the most can help you decide how to focus your time.

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3. Strengthen your proficiency

Decide on your proficiency goals and start practicing that language to grow your abilities. To stay motivated, create a projected timeline for your fluency improvement in areas like reading, speaking, listening and writing. As you study and practice, re-take your fluency assessments to track your progress, analyzing your results to determine which areas require the most improvement. Your goal should be to converse in multiple languages as effortlessly as possible, allowing you to come up with quality translations on the spot.

The best way to improve your language proficiency is to practice daily. Try finding someone else who speaks the language you want to learn so that you have someone to talk and practice with. Read books in the language that you want to learn and practice translating passages in different styles and subjects. To supplement your learning, use tools like online modules, language learning apps, flashcards and workbooks.

4. Gain a language certification

Once you become comfortable enough in the languages you want to translate, you should find ways to demonstrate your fluency and knowledge. Taking a certification test is a great way to prove to employers that you have the language proficiency to manage their translation tasks. Assessments can involve taking a written test and answering oral prompts.

There are many organizations that administer language proficiency tests, so you should search for a respected program in your chosen language. Many employers that hire online translators will also have you take an in-house test to further prove your abilities, but an official certificate can help them notice your application and reach out for more information about your skills.

5. Secure a translation and interpretation certificate

In addition to getting a language-specific certification, consider becoming a certified translator and interpreter. Translation certificates test your ability to implement translation strategies in various situations. The American Translators Association is one of the top certification tests in the US, making it a great option for displaying your translation skills to employers. Translators certified with the ATA are also included in their professional directory, which can help interested clients and employers find you.

If you're interested in working internationally and have top-level translation skills in at least three languages, you can seek out accreditation by the United Nations. Some specialized types of translation have their own certificates, such as court interpretation and medical translation.

6. Study specialty knowledge and industry jargon

To become a strong candidate for an online translation position, you need to be able to discuss niche and unique topics. This includes understanding challenging vocabulary words that you may not come across in regular conversation. Studying a wide range of phrases and words is especially important if you want to pursue a professional specialty as a translator, such as law or medicine.

To be a competitive candidate for online translation jobs, you should understand how to translate complex ideas and concepts, even if they don't have a direct translation. You should also understand how to translate content to cater to your audience. Some translation jobs may require additional explanation to appeal to a general audience while others might involve advanced language meant for professional use.

7. Prepare sample projects

Be prepared to display your skills by gathering a portfolio of example documents or files that you've translated. Sample projects give you the opportunity to put your knowledge into practice and learn about the methods that work best for you when completing a translation. They also provide employers with tangible proof that you can create thoughtful, high-quality translations. While some translation projects are straightforward, others require creativity and artistry to express the meaning and tone of the original piece. Translation samples show clients and employers your personal style and philosophy when approaching different types of projects.

8. Practice using translation software

In addition to language and communication skills, the ability to use translation tools is an important qualification for online translation jobs. Translation software provides translators with infrastructure to make their work easier, eliminate errors and improve overall productivity. Computer-assisted translation tools are essential for staying competitive with the quality and quantity of translations you can produce.

Practice using translation software in your free time, making sure to try out the different tools. Some of the features you should practice using before applying for online translation work include automated translation memory, termbase management, translation alignment, machine translation and localization features. You should be able to build translator profiles that help you maintain a consistent translation style for each project you work on.

9. Refine your resume

Once you've collected all of the essential certifications and qualifications, update your resume. Accurately reflecting your skills and experience with keywords related to translation can make it easier for potential employers to find you or notice your application. List the types of software you're familiar with and include information on your speed, accuracy and client satisfaction rates when possible.

Types of online translation jobs

There are a few different categories of translation jobs that you can find online, each with a different focus.


Transcription is the act of turning spoken words into written text blocks. It is one of the key duties involved in many translation jobs, where your main focus is to turn audio into searchable, readable archives. Some of the job titles for transcription translators are:

  • Closed caption translator

  • Subtitle translator

  • Captioning editor

  • Bilingual transcriptionist

  • Analytic linguist

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Live interpretation

There is a large demand for live translators who can listen to input in one language, mentally translate the information and then express it in another language almost simultaneously. The goal of a live interpreter is to translate what someone is saying with as little lag time as possible while capturing all of the original speaker's main ideas. Live interpreters may have to translate in both directions, facilitating both sides of a conversation. Here are a few examples of live interpretation translation jobs:

  • American Sign Language interpreter

  • Phone interpreter

  • Government interpreter

  • Video translator

  • Court interpreter

  • Distance learning interpreter

Text translation

Not all companies require instant translations, so document and text translation is another common type of online translation jobs. Many text translators work on a contract basis by accepting individual translation assignments and submitting a completed translation by a deadline. Translators may also work directly with an author to convert their writing into other languages. Possible job titles to search for can include:

  • Document translator

  • Technical translator

  • Website text translator

  • Copywriting translator

  • Book translator

Quality assurance

Not all online translation jobs actually involve translating texts yourself. Just like writing in your native language still requires an editor, translated works need to be reviewed by quality assurance translation professionals. Some quality assurance jobs have a managerial component where you use your translation expertise to determine the best processes for translating future works. Here are a few sample job titles that you might find in this segment of online translation roles:

  • Translation quality manager

  • Search evaluator

  • Bilingual proofreader

  • English annotator

  • Translation editor

  • Localization engineer

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