In my opinion, for a freelance translator it is crucial not only to develop skills but also to invest in relevant hardware and software. I won’t be listing here obvious items like computer with UPS, MS Office or extensive collection of dictionaries and encyclopaedia.
Nowadays more and more important for translators is use of tools developed specifically to facilitate translation process. Such programs are usually called CAT tools (Computer Assisted Translation) or as TEnT (Translation Environment Tools). This tools should not be mistaken with MT (machine translation). Using CATs does not replace translator any more than as their objective is not to replace translator but to support him in making decisions (mainly by reminding of decisions undertaken previously in identical or similar situations.
Currently I own SDL Studio 2011 which is one of a few leading CAT tools on the market. While SDL Studio works first and foremost with translation memories it comes with a separate tool – SDL Muliterm, dedicated to creation and use of termbases.
Besides investing money in software (I have already upgraded my CAT 3 times) I also invest time in training. A quick look at any translation forum dedicated to SDL Studio or in fact yo any other advanced CAT tool will show that there are many translators who buy it and try to use it without any training. Hardly anyone would try to drive a car without any training altogether, mastering a very advanced translation tool requires comparable work. And I am committed to doing this work.