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How Freelance Translators fare

Updated: Mar 5

Despite the long working hours, translation was a highly respected profession that paid relatively well. Freelance translators have faced numerous challenges in recent years. A decade or so ago, the primary battle was against inexpensive translations from China or India. Recently, businesses have been reducing costs due to the ongoing crises and are increasingly relying on AI-driven translation services such as Deepl and Google Translate. AI has become a strong competitor to human translators, which means that the latter must constantly demonstrate their worth to the few remaining direct clients and the all-dominating translation agencies.

 

In today's world, freelance translators must do more than just present their prior work or qualifications to prove their skills. Due to the transformation of the industry, they are now expected to meet stringent requirements such as providing references, undertaking lengthy unpaid test translations within a set time under the supervision of keyloggers, and even participating in recorded video interviews that are rather questionable in terms of data protection.

These expectations have significantly increased the time commitment for freelance translators,  who are already struggling to make a living,

 

It is worth noting the contradiction that arises when working for large translation agencies.

While freelancers working for such agencies are expected to rely on their language skills alone, without the help of machine translation tools, agencies use AI-based software to assess the translation quality of freelancers. This double standard is further exacerbated by translation agencies justifying lower translator fees and payments between 45 and 60 days, purportedly to remain competitive with other agencies utilising AI.

Nonetheless, freelancers have bills, taxes, and insurances to settle, and they require timely compensation. Waiting for payment for a period of one or two months can pose significant challenges. While meeting tight deadlines is crucial, prompt and fair payment holds equal importance for freelancers.

 

In a profession where experience and qualifications should ideally hold weight, translators often find themselves under constant scrutiny. This dilemma raises pertinent questions about striking a balance between harnessing technology for efficiency and ensuring just compensation and acknowledgment for the human touch in translation.





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