Starting a Home-Based Interpretation and Translation Services Business

Interpretation and translation businesses may provide language services to other businesses, government agencies, hospitals and health care organizations, and advertising agencies. Translators may work with text, audio or video media. Interpreters may provide “real-time” translation services for courts, law enforcement agencies, attorneys, hospitals, or businesses.

The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there were 50,900 interpreters and translators in the USA during 2008. Projections for this occupational category anticipate growth of 22.2 percent over the decade from 2008 – 2018. Median annual wages were reported to be “high” at $38,850 while 26.1 percent of interpreters and translators were self-employed in 2008.

Getting Started

Anyone who is fluent in more than one language may be able to start their own home-based, interpretation or translation services business. Interpreters may provide in-person services or telephone services. Translators may work at home or in a client’s office as the need arises.

The increasingly global nature of our world creates many opportunities for translators and interpreters. The list of language service opportunities is nearly endless, but many of these potential clients do not need a full-time translator or interpreter; however, they do need an interpreter or translator sometimes. This situation creates an opportunity for multi-lingual interpreters or translators to start a home-based business providing these language services on a contract basis.


Marketing approaches may vary depending on the target industry or customer. The market for translation and interpretation services is large and diverse, and many language specialists may choose to focus on a particular niche like medical, legal, or international business. Health care, law enforcement and courts, international business, publishing (print and digital), and advertising are but a few of the markets that a home-based, interpretation and translation service business may encounter.

A business website is a good way to market your translation and interpretation business to potential customers from around the world. The website should include details about which languages you are able to translate or interpret, your rates, hours when you are available to work, sample of translation work or testimonials, and contact information.

Business cards are essential for many business people and can be a great way to send your name and contact information with a potential client whenever or wherever you may meet. Business cards can also be enclosed with any business communications or sales letters that you send in the mail.


Specializing in a certain industry can help to avoid interpretation or translation problems. Industries often have specific jargon or terminology that can be difficult to translate effectively and accurately. For example, legal terms may be quite different from medical terms. Focusing on one particular industry can help to limit potential misunderstandings due to unfamiliar terms or concepts.


Multilingual entrepreneurs may find the translation or interpretation business to be an exciting and profitable business. Since many businesses only require an interpreter or translator on occasion they may prefer to contract out these language services rather than hiring an employee for the occasional need. A home-based, translation and interpretation services business can be started on a shoestring budget by a multilingual entrepreneur.

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