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In-house agency translators and freelancers
Thread poster: Marta Scapellato
Marta Scapellato  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:30
Italian to French
+ ...
Jan 23, 2008

Hi !

I am writing a dissertation about the profession of translator and in particular about the different possibilities a translator has to work: as freelancer, in-house...

What I would like to know is is there any difference between a freelance translator who works for translation agencies and another who is instead an in-house agency translator ?
I am sure there are some differences but apart from their different working hours and flexibility I can´t think of any...for example is an in-house agency translator specialised in a particular area ?

I hope to get some ideas from you !!

Thanks in advance,

Kind regards

Marta

[Modificato alle 2008-01-23 12:03]


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canaria
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:30
French to English
+ ...
terms and conditions would be different Jan 23, 2008

In-house translators working for agencies would normally be employees and therefore, the agency would be responsible for pay, tax, national insurance, annual leave, sick pay arrangements. Freelancers are responsible for their own arrangements in this respect. Also, agency translators cannot refuse to take on assignments for the same reasons freelancers can - i.e. too busy, can't be bothered, whatever.
This at least is my experience, having been in both positions.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 19:30
Dutch to English
+ ...
Earning potential Jan 23, 2008

Far higher for freelancers (even taking into account the additional obligations canaria has pointed out).

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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 20:30
Italian to English
+ ...
Huge Differences Jan 23, 2008

Well, actually "differences", when making any comparison, depend on the criteria applied to determine what is "different" and what is "similar".

Anyway, a freelance translator basically runs a business and may have a wide array of customers, including translation agencies and direct customers located in any part of the world, while an in-house translator is, in most circumstances, an employee in a fixed place.

The business set up and tax obligations of a freelance translator differ significantly in comparison to an in-house translator (I know of at least two cases, one in the US, one in Europe, where people working on freelance contracts but for one agent, physically in office but at times from home, after a dispute, were legally declared by the judge to be employees, and the employer had to pay back-taxes on social contributions).

The freelance translator can decide which customers and which jobs to accept, at what price (also based on supply & demand and market segment, which are virtually infinite in the translation business), and according to some other conditions that can be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Normally an in-house translator does not have the possibility of making such decisions.

The income of an in-house translator is basically fixed, that of a freelance translator depends on a whole set of factors, ranging from supply and demand conditions in a particular segment to operating efficiency.

Both an in-house agency translator and a freelance translator may or may not be specialised in a particular area, though, indeed, most are specialised in at least one area.

Good luck!


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Marta Scapellato  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:30
Italian to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
anonymity Jan 23, 2008

I think in-house agency translators remain anonymous so that they can not relay on faithful customers, is it right ? If the customer is happy with his translation, he will contact the same agency (but the translator who did it might not work there any more...)

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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 20:30
Italian to English
+ ...
Any combination is possible Jan 23, 2008

Marta Scapellato wrote:

I think in-house agency translators remain anonymous so that they can not relay on faithful customers, is it right ? If the customer is happy with his translation, he will contact the same agency (but the translator who did it might not work there any more...)


Freelance translators may also remain anonymous to the final customers when working through an agency, while an in-house translator may have the opportunity to work directly with the final customer.


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ivo abdman
Indonesia
Local time: 02:30
English to Indonesian
+ ...
From view of ESBI Quadrant Jan 23, 2008

Left Quadrant
E---> Employment
S---> Self employment

Right Quadrant
B--->Bussiness
I--->Investment


in-house translator ---> E
freelancer translator ---> S


Both are not suggested in financial freedom


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 20:30
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Specialization Jan 23, 2008

You also asked specifically about specialization.

Some agencies specialize in a particular area - for example finance or software localization. It goes without saying that their in-house staff (should) also specialize in these areas.

When I worked in house (as a financial translator) I had to translate one long piece on a medical technology company that was going public. The translation also included some pretty graphic descriptions of the medical technology involved. NOT for the squeamish. As a freelance translator I would not have taken on that kind of translation. I DON'T like medical stuff, in particular graphic descriptions of the workings (or failings) of people's internal organs and how these can be fixed.

The other main differences have already been mentioned: working hours, social security, health insurance, salary, the entrepreneurial aspects of being a freelancer, etc.

But otherwise the two jobs are pretty similar.

HTH

Alison


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:30
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Working conditions Jan 23, 2008

A firm that would hire a full-time in-house translator is hiring an employee (as was mentioned). However, it is not unusual in the US for someone to be hired primarily in some other role and do some occasional translations. If the firm is something other than a translation agency, a full-time in-house translator learns about whatever it is the firm does. That can become somewhat specialized.

Freelance translators can turn down work in fields in which they don't particularly like the subject matter, and often do so. In-house translators have somewhat less flexibility in this regard.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Flexibility against security Jan 23, 2008

We have very little security, which should worry me more than it does!

But what flexibility! Others have already mentioned many areas, and I would add:-
the flexibility to sleep in late,
work 18h the next,
work the weekend then take Monday off as something special's happening,
work when it rains, play when the sun shines, ...

Of course, everything depends on the jobs you're already committed to but there's still a lot more flexibility. I could never go back to having my boss looking pointedly at the clock when I arrive at 9.05 am.


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Marta Scapellato  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:31
Italian to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to all of you ! Feb 5, 2008

I got clearer ideas, your posts really helped.

Marta


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 20:31
French to Dutch
+ ...
In general Feb 6, 2008

- An inhouse translator is in most cases an employee, and employees always have a contract. In the case of agencies, these contracts contain specifically a confidentiality clause and a non competition clause, that means that normally the translator cannot become an independent translator or a translation company within a certain period (often two years) and within a certain geographical area (the city of ..). (agencies don't like their former employees, who know everything about their clients, become competitors).

- An inhouse translator has a fixed salary (determined in his contract), an independent translator doesn't have a fixed income, and he has to pay his own taxes and social security contributions (employers' part and employees' part).

- Both categories are clearly defined, and in most countries there's nothing in between. In France you have "umbrella companies" where the translator is on his own, has his own clients, but has a contract with an "umbrella company" and is paid (with a salary slip) for the number of hours worked (the number of words being converted in hours). The umbrella company keeps 10% of his turnover. Legally the translator is an employee, and can be fired, so this is not a good long-term solution.

- In some countries, a translator who has only one employer (see above) is not an "independent" translator, but a disguised salaried worker. To avoid this, it is advised that the translator should be working for several different companies, the biggest one not exceeding one-third of his turnover.

- How about translators who have their own company and are their own employees? (I am one of those)


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