Do More Languages Equal More Money as a Translator

As a translator, you make money from your language skills.

You most likely know two languages equally well.

And those languages earn you money.

It’s only natural, then to wonder, if knowing more languages will earn you more money as a translator.

Well, that depends.

There’s a lot to consider.

So let’s look at the details.

First of all, let’s look at the different earning potential between freelance translators and in-house translators.

Which one is likely to earn more money by knowing more languages?

This one is simple.

Freelance translators for sure.

In-house translators are on a salary.

And I’ve never heard of an in-house translator earning more money because he knew another language.

You’re paid for what you do.

For the skills that you bring into the job.

Learning another skill that isn’t really related to your primary skill doesn’t usually matter to your boss.

If you were brought in to translate Spanish, the fact that you have since learned Arabic doesn’t matter, especially if there’s no operational need for you to know Arabic.

Just knowing another language isn’t a game changer for an in-house translator.

If you’re a freelance translator, though, knowing another language could be game changer.

Note that I said “could be” and not “will be.”

Keep that in mind.

As a freelance translator, you make money on the translations you’re able to produce.

The more you produce, the more you get paid.

The problem with most translators, though, is not producing.

It’s finding enough clients to give you enough work to always be producing.

Feast or famine is a common phrase among translators.

You’ve heard it, too, I know.

Hell, you’ve probably felt it more than once in your translation career as well.

Nearly every translator goes through these periods every so often.

One month you’ve got so much work you can barely keep your head above water and the next month the only job you’ve had is translating a marriage certificate.

It happens.

One would think that a great way to manage this problem, or at least the feast part of the equation, is to set yourself up for more work.

And one way to do that, so the thinking goes, is to learn another language.

Another language = more clients = more work.

That’s true.

To an extent.

Let me explain.

As a translator running your own business, you are in the best position to understand what actions will give you the most return on investment for your business.

In other words, is learning another language the best option for increasing your profits?

The Problem with Learning Another Language

Learning another language can be great.

But it might not lead you to the extra work you want.

First of all, how long did it take you to learn your first second language?

A long time?

A couple of years?

A few months?

Do you have that time to devote to learning another language sufficiently enough to be able to translate into or out of that language?

Chances are, when you were learning your first second language, you devoted a ton of time to it.

In fact, if you’re on top of your translation game, you’re still devoting a significant portion of your time to keeping up your source language.

Not to mention continually learning your target language.

Do you have the time?

Probably not.

Instead of learning another language, add to your areas of specialization.

This is the single biggest thing that can affect how much you get paid.

We see that especially when we look at translator salaries here in the U.S. and we see the same thing when we look at translation salaries in the EU.

You already know the language.

Increasing your area of specializations is just a matter of learning more about something in both your source and target language.

And the great thing is that there are plenty of ways to gain that knowledge.

Free ways even.

Increasing your knowledge of different topics will allow you to continue with your regular translation work.

And as you learn more in certain areas, you start advertising your ability to translate into those areas.

So before you think that learning another language is automatically going to earn you more money, take a step back and reevaluate.

It might make more sense to learn another subject in the languages you already know.

Want to know what the best platform for learning is?

The absolute best platform I’ve found for learning new things is Udemy. With 40,000 courses available in a bunch of different languages, you’ll find plenty of speciality areas that will give you more opportunities as a freelance translator.

Until Next Time.

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