Is Translation Business Profitable?

February 25, 2022

In the era of globalization, the translation and localization market is getting bigger each year. Its potential attracts not only professional providers but also players who are new to the language services. However, all of them share the same question before deciding to set up their own business, which is “is translation business profitable?”. The answer to this critical inquiry depends on many factors and here are some pointers to find out whether you can earn credits from it or not.

When you’re questioning about “is translation business profitable?” properly that you’re in the planning stage for your business. A clear plan is essential for a successful entrepreneur, helping you prepare for unexpected situations. Here are some questions you should pay more attention to map out the specifics of your business:

What is your business model? 

Anything can be profitable with the right business models. Therefore, it’s time to start thinking about which way you will choose for your business.

The lone-wolf freelancer

Setting yourself up as a lone shop isn’t always a bad thing. Being a freelancer means your customer has an in-depth relationship with you and that is a big plus to any language service provider.


  • You can sell your personalized knowledge and relationship
  • You don’t have to be on-call all the time
  • Your customers understand that you’re a freelancer and you have a life, hence, work-life balance is easier


  • Freelancers are assumed to be unreliable so you have to prove that you’re not that type of person
  • It might be difficult to be seen as a professional linguist who can advise clients on their translated content.

The agency  

This model shares the same idea with the freelance type, the big difference is you will create a name for your business that mentions you as a company, not just a freelancer. With this business model, you will need to put a lot of effort into various activities outside of translation such as:

  • Marketing materials (website, business card, social media, etc.)
  • Enhance your ability to work on complicated projects compared to your average freelancer. At this time, you can outsource your projects to complete these jobs.
  • You have clear contracts and procedures in place with vivid expectations about the services, milestones included, and the responsibilities of each party.

There will be many things to keep track of and the pressure will also be higher. However, once you become fluent and get used to the work, you may earn more credit by expanding your business.

What is the cost involved in establishing a translation company? 

Working in the translation industry means you’re able to work at any time and anywhere you want since most of the time you will communicate and work with your global customer via online platforms. This helps you minimalize the cost by eliminating the office renting fee. In the very first steps, you may only need a friendly working space, a computer with high-speed Internet, and a good all-in-one printer. It’s also essential to purchase professional translation software because you may want to cut costs but not the quality.

What are the ongoing expenses for a translation agency? 

Here are some ongoing expenses for translation business that you should notice:

  • Payment for freelance translators
  • Advertising and promotions
  • Professional translation software
  • Office supplies
  • Data storage and transfer
  • Education to achieve expertise certification

How much can you charge your customers? 

Before applying any rate for your customers, here are some information you should know to make a suitable decision. According to a survey of the American Translators Association, a freelance translator could approximately earn $64,000 per year and the average estimated rate in all language pairs is 11 cents per word. Many linguists choose to charge by page and its rate depends on many factors such as the word count or length of the document, the complexity of the input. Another factor is how urgent the client wants the outcomes, the higher the turnaround time, the higher the cost.

You can also take a look at to find out the specific rate of a professional translator to a more normal one. It’s a huge and popular online market for freelance translators to advertise their service and buyer post jobs. Additionally, based on what rates thousands of translators have submitted, Proz publishes a table with the average rate reported by language pairs.

The translation industry is estimated to be over $30 billion and there will be a way for you to earn money from it, as long as you possess an effective that highlights your services from the current competitors.

Read more: 4 Multilingual Website Examples to Inspire You


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