We’re going to get straight to the point here. And that point is this:
A lot of prospective translators want to know the answer to one question before they decide to make the plunge and that is this:
Are Translators Rich?
I like it when prospective translators ask this because it’s important to be truthful. A lot of translators might think that this is a taboo question to ask because it puts the pay above the purity.
They might think, “If a person loves translation and is passionate about translation and language issues, should it matter what the pay is and whether or not you become rich?”
While I can understand where these “old-school” translators might be coming from, I have to disagree with them. If someone wants to become a professional translator and be able to earn a living from that profession, then it’s fair to ask if that profession is going to provide for the lifestyle that the translator wants.
Because at the end of the day, passion does not pay the bills.
Loving language is not going to take care of your family.
What does, though, is providing a service or product that other people are willing to pay for.
And if a translator wants to live in a nice home, have nice things, raise a family, provide resources for the local community, donate to charity, travel the world, etc., then he or she has to have enough money to do those things.
So, yeah, it’s OK to ask that question and in fact, that question should be asked by people thinking about going into the translation industry.
What Is Rich?
OK, so if it’s fine to ask that initial question of whether or not translators are rich, then the next question to ask is what it means to be rich. The reason we need to ask that is because the term rich is a pretty subjective one.
What it means to me to be rich could mean something completely different to another person.
And rich means more than just having enough money. Rich can also mean:
- having family time
- being able to live wherever you want
- working your own ours
- doing what you enjoy
- being able to pursue hobbies
- working with people you want (or by yourself)
- wearing what you want
You can be rich in a lot of different ways other than money, and as a translator, there are lots of opportunities to become rich.
How Are Translators Rich?
All right. Now it’s time to answer the original question of whether or not translators are rich.
The quick answer is this:
Successful, professional translators are very rich.
Rich In Freedom
Successful freelance translators are rich because they have the ability to be free in a variety of ways.
First of all, freelance translators can decide how much money they want to make.
Nobody determines the salary of a translator except for the translator. There’s no boss or corporation mandating a salary range; instead, as a translator, you are in charge of your own financial destiny. You can charge what you want, market how you want, find the clients you want, and decide how much you want to work.
Secondly, you have freedom of location. As a freelance translator, you can live and work from anywhere you want.
You can move around the world at your will, settle down in one place, or move to a whole new country. That freedom is something that many people desire and never attain.
Freedom of location is likely the number one freedom that translators (and other location-independent entrepreneurs) enjoy.
Third, you as a translator have the freedom of work.
What I mean by this is that we have the opportunity as freelance translators to work on the things that we want to work on.
Nobody is over our shoulder telling us what jobs we can accept and what translation jobs we can’t.
If we want to move beyond translation and do other language work like subtitling, we can.
If we want to take a hiatus and write a training manual for translators, we can. We can even sell our words on Amazon (40 Tips for Translators, anyone?).
And if we’d rather not do any of that and focus solely on translating, it’s our decision to make.
So, yes, I would say that successful translators are rich and anybody that has the desire and dedication to become a successful freelance translator also has the ability to be rich.
Want some tips on how to become a rich translator? Read my book.