4 Facts You Need To Know about Freelance Interpreters

A Black female freelance interpreter sits in front of her. She's smiling with her chin resting on her hand.
Source: Andrea Piacquadio on Pexel

Setting the record straight on freelance interpreters

To use freelance interpreters or not to use freelance interpreters?

It’s a question that’s been at the heart of many language service companies (and businesses) for years.

For us, it’s a no-brainer — the independent contract interpreters we partner with are smart, dedicated professionals, and we wouldn’t be here without them.

But for others who need a little more convincing, we’ve put together some facts about freelance interpreters we hope you find useful.

Fact #1: A large percentage of all interpreters and translators are independent contractors

Source: CSA Research. The study represents the beliefs, attitudes, and demographics of 7,363 translators and interpreters worldwide.

According to a recent survey by CSA Research, 75% of respondents identified as independent contractors.

Why is this the case, you ask?

Some prefer the flexibility of making their own schedule, some want to choose their assignments. They can specialize. Mostly, it’s due to language demand. Languages outside of, say, the top 10 don’t have the volume to work full-time at one location in most areas. Instead of relocating to a place with a higher concentration of speakers, if there is such a place, an interpreter can work remotely and for different language service providers or direct clients.

Related: What’s The Difference Between an Interpreter and a Translator?

Fact #2: We all benefit from freelance interpreters

Freelance language professionals, language service companies, and the businesses who use them all benefit from independent contract interpreters.

Freelancers can have a full, flexible workload, can choose projects they’re good at, and can contract with more than one company at a time. Language companies are able to offer more languages and a higher levels of service, and businesses can communicate with all their customers, no matter what language they speak. Providing interpreters has proven to lower readmission rates in hospitals, increase patient satisfaction, and increase customer loyalty.

Fact #3: The remote interpreting business is growing—and helping expand access in the process

As business continues to globalize, the need for language services continues to skyrocket. We’re communicating and doing business in more diverse languages than previously thought possible, too. This is thanks to technology, but also to migration, travel, and our desire to connect with other cultures.

Remote interpreting is helping expand access to events and services that were previously cost prohibitive or simply not doable. Like international interviews, webinars in multiple languages, or understanding a patient who speaks Igbo. And who do you think is doing all that remote interpreting? Freelance language professionals.

Fact #4: Freelance interpreters are professionals

Interpreting, whether freelance or not, requires specific knowledge and skills that take years of experience, training, and/or education to achieve.

Interpreting is much, much more than being proficient in two languages. In order to partner with a language service provider as an independent contractor, interpreters must demonstrate both their language proficiency and their ability to interpreter messages accurately, effectively, and impartially. Interpreters follow a strict code of conduct and standards of practice and are governed by several professional associations.

We understand that it’s easy to assume that freelance interpreters or translators don’t have the necessary skills to do the job right. But, as we just demonstrated, that’s the furthest from the truth!

If you have questions about the use of independent contractors, contact us! We’re always here to answer any questions we can.

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