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Freelance translator vs full-time translator – which is the better solution?

Freelance translator vs full-time translator – which is the better solution? Tłumacz freelancer vs tłumacz na etacie - które rozwiązanie jest lepsze?

In today’s world, remote work is becoming increasingly more popular. The most important advantages of such a solution include greater efficiency, better motivation to take action, and less stress. Additionally, remote work can be performed from almost anywhere – you can work at home, in a cafe or while visiting parents in a different city. Working full-time, in a place designated by the employer seems boring when compared to the freedom that comes with freelance work. However, keep in mind that it also has several advantages over remote work and freelancing!


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Freelancer translator vs full-time translator: which one will you prefer?

First, we should talk about the differences between remote work and freelance work. A remote worker may be a full-time employee who is simply free to perform their duties in a place other than that indicated by the employer. So a remote worker is still a full-time employee, with all the privileges and duties resulting from it.

A freelancer on the other hand, can be both a remote employee and a permanent (or long-term) employee hired by a company. Therefore, freelancing in the work of a translator differs from a full-time job primarily in the stability of the project sources.

A full-time employee is dependent on their employer, working for a company which usually constitutes the only source of income. In the event of job loss or job cuts, such an employee’s standard of living worsens significantly. A freelancer on the other hand, makes a living from what he/she manages to source and perform as work in exchange for a remuneration: from project to project. No one will provide a freelancer with an hourly rate or a guaranteed availability of orders in a given week or month.

Nevertheless, a freelancer doesn’t have to work at a specific time or on particular days of the week. Generally, they don’t have to do anything. A freelancer is not bound by any employment contract with his/her principals, so they may as well get up in the morning and decide to take a day off.

What does the work of a freelancer involve?

Freelancers usually work in 3 ways:

  •  as natural persons, on the basis of a civil-law contract (such as a contract for a specific task or project);
  • through establishing their own business and providing services in the B2B or B2C format;
  • by cooperating with a translation agency (in the case of translators), but not on a full-time basis – under a civil law or B2B contract.

Full-time employment ensures financial stability. Such an employee has a defined scope of duties, working hours, clear contract terms, as well as a fixed salary (often with bonuses and awards). However, it also has a few disadvantages: a limited number of days off and loss of source of income in the event of termination of employment.

Freelance-based work gives you the opportunity to perform various projects, establish interesting contacts and freely dispose of your working time. And the more clients you have the more money you earn (often more than with a full-time job).

A freelance translator vs full-time translator – which is the better solution? The answer might be: It depends. What does it depend on? Read on to find out.

Freelance translator vs full-time translator – how does it work in practice?

It is best to ask both groups about their feelings regarding the different forms of work. Many people, especially young individuals who are just entering the job market offering their skills but little or no experience, wonder which option will suit them better. It’s difficult to indicate the advantages of one or the other solution.

It all depends on ambition, susceptibility to stress, financial expectations, as well as coping with routine. Many people like stability, even if it means routine, which, however, gives them predictable earnings and continuity of work, while others like to broaden their horizons and face new challenges, which is why they will be perfectly suited for the world of freelancing.

The essence of this problem is reflected by the statement of a user, posted on one of the internet forums for translators:

“As usual, there are two sides to every story. If someone wants to have irregular working hours, it is better to be a freelancer. This is associated with irregularity of income and the need to explore several areas of knowledge, depending on the field of translation you’re dealing with. Working full-time is a great solution if you like sitting in the office from 9 to 5 because firstly, you can be sure of your earnings, and secondly, due the repeatability of translations (at least the subject matter). So it is all a matter of individual choice.”

We should mention one more aspect: getting a job in a company is not an easy task. In most cases, experience is one of the most important recruitment criteria.

Translation agency or freelance work? Where do I start?

There are two possibilities. The one that gives you a better perspective of stability is an internship at a translation agency. In many cases, talented apprentices stay with the company on a full-time basis after completing the internship. The second possibility is to source individual projects as a freelancer, so that experience as well as projects in the portfolio are gradually gained.

A start with an in-office internship will teach good habits right away. If you decide to begin your professional career with freelancing, you may face the risk of adopting bad habits that no one can correct.

Both options have their pros and cons. Think about them carefully before choosing your career path!


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