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5 cents a word
Thread poster: Sally Quinn

Sally Quinn  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:30
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Apr 10, 2006

5 cents per word seems to be the going rate for French/Italian translations to English on the projects on which I have bid. I live in the USA. Frankly, I think that represents underpayment. But I am a freelancer and a newbie, so perhaps the rate is very good. What do you think? I need a reality check.

[Edited at 2006-04-10 16:19]


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Fred Lessing
English to Portuguese
5 cents a word Apr 10, 2006

If you provide fully proofread translations without grammar, terminology or language errors, and if you translate INTO English, 5 cents sounds a bit underpaid to me. If it were into French or into Italian, the price would be acceptable (regardless of where you live, because nowadays agencies work globally just as much as translators do).

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Jerónimo Fernández  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Do the Math Apr 10, 2006

5 US$ cents a word x Approx. 300 words per hour (that's my average output) = approx 15 US$ per hour.

Let's assume you work 8h a day, and that you always have projects to translate: 8 x 15 = 120 US$ per day

Let's assume you rest on weekends, so you work some 22 days per month. 120 x 22 = 2,640 US$ per month.

I've never lived in the US, so I can't tell you for sure if you can live there on 2,640 US$ per month, but it sounds pretty little to me.

HTH,
Jerónimo

[Edited at 2006-04-10 17:12]


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Sally Quinn  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:30
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jeronimo Apr 10, 2006

Of course I did do the math, but 5 US cents is below the "community average". So I wanted to request real, live feedback from proz translators on line. Your reply helps a lot!

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Giulia TAPPI  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:30
French to Italian
+ ...
It's really shocking for me Apr 10, 2006

Unfortunately, I do not live in the US; I live in France. I have 2 University degrees, one in law and one in translation, and 20 years of experience, so I do try to avoid agencies, but here in Paris it would be at least 0,10 euros per word. Personally I would not accept less than 0,14 euros per word, and my clients pay me, for translating into Italian, between 0,16 and 0,18 euros.
Of course, it depends on the market price, but I think that now we have problems with on line translations, because people can have their translation made for a ridiculous price, by asking people who live in countries where the cost of life is really much lower.


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Katherine Mérignac  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:30
Member (2004)
French to English
Low! Apr 10, 2006

Hi Sally,

"If it were into French or into Italian, the price would be acceptable (regardless of where you live, because nowadays agencies work globally just as much as translators do)"

I can't say I agree with this and have never accepted to work for that amount - even into French and even when starting out. I'm not saying people don't work for this amount, and a great deal has been said about what one should or shouldn't charge, but if you feel this is not enough then simply don't accept. There are many agencies and clients out there who are prepared to pay higher rates if they feel they are getting what they pay for.

Follow your instincts -- and maybe try contacting agencies directly.

Best of luck,

Kate


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Javier Herrera
Spanish
Just a small "correction" Apr 10, 2006

Sally Quinn wrote:

5 cents per word seems to be the going rate for French/Italian translations to English on the projects on which I have bid.



That you see it in Proz.com doesn't mean it's normal.

This site offers wonderful features, I'm sure you've already become aware. However, many of the jobs offered are just absolute rubbish (in fact, this happens in any other translators site).

On-line work is a tempting choice for unscrupulous middlemen. Our job-hunting strategy should be to network with good translators face to face -mainly through events organized by professional associations and sites like this (powwows), or simply by popping into their offices-, as has always been done, before the internet existed, and try to offer them our collaboration.

J.


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texjax DDS PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:30
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
5 cents a word... Apr 10, 2006

I live in Florida, where the daycare for my son costs 800 dollars a month...

..so 5 cents doesn't sound enough for me

But, especially if you are just starting, you may need to keep your rates low (how much it's up to you) otherwise without experience nobody will hire you...

On the other hand, in this way you send an ambiguous message...and in the future it will be difficult to rise your prices with the X agency once you have already accepted to work for less.


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:30
5 cents per word in the US? Low Apr 10, 2006

Hi Sally,

I currently live in Mexico City, but I have lived in the US, and most of my clients are from the US. I translate from English and French into Spanish, and my rate is between 10 and 12 cents per word, depending on the type of document. I must say I work mostly for direct clients because most agencies request a lower rate. I have a university degree, I am ATA-certified and have more than 8 years experience in translation. Translators who are just starting probably charge less, but not much less.

From what I have been able to decipher from surveys on rates (by ATA, which does not like the topic much, and other organizations) my rates are average. In the US I have seen rates from .02 to 50 cents per word, so you could say anything goes, but I am sure the majority of translators in the US will agree that 5 cents is very close to the bottom range. And as another colleague mentioned before, I do not think it would be wise to consider the rates offered and advertised in Proz.com as "normal market rates".


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
If memory serves me... Apr 10, 2006

A couple of decades ago the average agency rate for this language pair in the U.S. was around 8 cents per word...and I have come across many an agency that continues to offer this rate nowadays. Ideally you would want to work for agencies that pay closer to the 10-12 cent rate, which is still low from a two-decade perspective but in line with what agencies are currently offering in the U.S. (unless you are an expert in highly specialized subjects, which would allow you to charge a higher rate). I agree eventually it is much more profitable to market yourself to direct clients, although as a newbie working for an agency would be a good training ground. But 5 cents is definitely low, experience or no experience. You may offer your translation services as a volunteer for charitable organizations; but if you're going to charge, charge a decent rate in order to avoid hurting the market or your chances of a reasonable income.

Best luck,

Susana


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Sylvain Leray  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:30
German to French
Interesting Apr 11, 2006

Fred Lessing wrote:

If it were into French or into Italian, the price would be acceptable (regardless of where you live, because nowadays agencies work globally just as much as translators do).


Really ? Well, I didn't know that. My clients neither. Should I tell them they pay me way too much ?

Seriously, Fred, such statements are just another way of letting people believe that 0.05 is a normal and acceptable rate, but it is not. It is always more common to see such prices offered by outsourcers, but it is not an acceptable price.

I live in France, and let's say half of the earnings we make go into taxes... do you honestly believe that regardless of where you live, you can live with 0.05/word? Or do you work 48 hours in one day without eating and without having any family life?

Sylvain


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John Walsh  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:30
Member (2004)
Italian to English
low Apr 11, 2006

Sally Quinn wrote:

5 cents per word seems to be the going rate for French/Italian translations to English on the projects on which I have bid. I live in the USA. Frankly, I think that represents underpayment. But I am a freelancer and a newbie, so perhaps the rate is very good. What do you think? I need a reality check.

[Edited at 2006-04-10 16:19]

That's low. Most agencies pay between Euro .06 and .09 per source word for It to En.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:30
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
5 cents is NOT the going rate Apr 11, 2006

5 cents is NOT the going rate for F/I > E translations. I have been translating from those languages (and others) full-time for over 14 years (I live in Florida) and I have never charged less than .08 a word even 14 years ago!. I currently translate close to 500,000 words a year now for .10 - .15 a word. I also turn down at least the same number of words because I am too busy - so the work is there.

ProZ is great, but there is a whole big other world out there and many agencies and clients do not use ProZ. Do successful translators talk about them here? Not a chance.


Sally Quinn wrote:

5 cents per word seems to be the going rate for French/Italian translations to English on the projects on which I have bid. I live in the USA. Frankly, I think that represents underpayment. But I am a freelancer and a newbie, so perhaps the rate is very good. What do you think? I need a reality check.

[Edited at 2006-04-10 16:19]


[Edited at 2006-04-11 17:36]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:30
English to French
+ ...
I beg to differ Apr 12, 2006

Just a quick comment on Fred Lessing's initial message:

English to French translation at 5 cents per word is WAY underpaid - it is actually worth about three times as much, independently of geographical region.

Also, please do consider that rates on ProZ don't reflect the global average rates. ProZ rates are generally lower than the standard rate, because on ProZ, there are not many jobs from direct clients. Agencies, and these days overwhelmingly outsourcers (read: freelancers making profit on other freelancers' work) make up the bulk of jobs on ProZ. This means that there are always middle-men and that you get paid as little as half of what the work is worth. Also, because ProZ is a place that favors large-scale communication within the industry at an international level, there are many people here from countries where people are happy to make 15$ per day working 8 hours, and this, by extension, tends to lower the rate for the rest of us. In other words, don't consider that the rates encountered on ProZ ARE those that your work is worth. I have clients who know nothing about ProZ and pay me much better than most offers I get on ProZ - and I am never going to introduce ProZ to them, as I want to keep those clients, AND the sounder rates they offer, for myself.

Regardless, ProZ is a fun place and the advice we give each other can be valuable ; )


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Cristina Golab  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
That's low. May 9, 2006

I once made a translation for a non-profit organization that had a low budget for the project and they paid 8 cents a word. That can give you an idea.

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