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Newbie needs advice on an in-house position
Thread poster: JoyBerlin

Local time: 09:16
German to English
Oct 16, 2008

Hi all,

I'm new to ProZ and feel a bit like a dwarf among giants, still getting used to my surroundings...But thanks for reading and here goes:

I interviewed a few weeks ago for a full-time position as an in-house translator--been freelancing for a while now, while primarily teaching English in Berlin--and since they have asked me back to 'discuss a few things', I would love to get some advice from people who've been employed with a translation agency before. Does anyone know, or know a good resource where I can find out, what range of salary I should expect (as a non-certified translator with American B.A. and native speaker)? Also, with freelancing my experience has been that the work of getting assignments nearly outweighs the actual work, and think I'd be quite happy with the steady flow of projects that a full time position offers, as well as the daily interaction with people in an otherwise solitary profession. But I'm sure there are glaring drawbacks I'm overlooking...Any experiences out there along this line? What you loved about in-house? Hated? Would do differently? And what about unions?

Thanks for the help--I really appreciate it. And if there's a website or forum on the Net that would answer these questions, please point me in that direction!



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LP Schumacher  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:16
German to English
Forum discussion Oct 17, 2008

JoyBerlin wrote:
What you loved about in-house? Hated? Would do differently?

Here is a link to a recent forum discussion on in-house vs. freelance work. There were not many postings under the topic, and it does not address all of your questions, but it might be worth checking:

I can't answer your salary question, but you might check some of the leading job search sites; occasionally they have in-house translation positions posted, along with the salary being offered. Obviously the language pair and job location will make a difference, but it might give you a starting point for negotiations.

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Catriona Thomas
Local time: 09:16
German to English
Newbie re in-house position Oct 17, 2008

If you are serious about the translation business, then a couple of years as an employed translator will give you invaluable experience for whatever future career you may choose to pursue. I spent 10 years working as an in-house translator, for a major German law firm. The advantage is you have a steady flow of work and a secure income, social welfare insurance etc. (not to be underestimated especially family commitments are involved). You also have the benefit of colleagues to consult with in person and you will be incorporated into a (hopefully friendly) office atmosphere. You will really learn the trade there! The downside is that you have to translate everything that comes along, regardless of how complex or simply unpleasant a text may be, often under extreme time pressure. You should definitely insist that your potential employer pays the costs of adequate translator's liability insurance for you, after all, all translations you do will be at the his behest. You could try and ensure you get an office on your own, but that might be difficult in a translation agency. As regards salary, the German Translators' Association BDÜ used to have a salary chart to provide initial orientation. It is definitely worth taking a look at their website and enquiring. The standard job sites are also useful in this respect. I myself turned freelance this summer and am very glad for a background of 10 years of very hard work as an employed translator. It is proving to be invaluable as regards the range of legal areas in which I feel competent, dealings with clients, for assessing texts and judging my own ability to set and accept deadlines for completion, and for negotiating and justfying my translation rates vis-à-vis clients and translation agencies. I do however, enjoy the additional freedoms and variety as a freelancer and look forward to developing my business.

Kind regards,
Catriona Thomas

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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:16
German to English
+ ...
Check German forum Oct 17, 2008

I assume this position will also be in Berlin or Germany? The salary issue has been discussed quite a bit in the German forum, search for Gehalt there. My summary of various quoted rates can be found at:, which I will post here in English for the benefit of those who don't speak German, along with some new additions:
EUR 15-18K per year following a 6-month trainee period, pumping out 3000 words a day
EUR 17K as a PM trainee, not clear in what country
EUR 24-26K at a small agency in Germany
EUR 1300-1800 per month after a traineeship, for someone without a degree in translation, from an agency in Berlin
EUR 24-39K per year after an MA
Translator with a Bachelor's degree (presumably in translation?)
Gross monthly salary 2007
Starting salary: 2,109 Euro
After 5 years: 2,710 Euro

If your BA is not in translation, I'm afraid you might be looking more at the 1300-1800 range quoted by Hans/DSC

One issue I'd be sure to ask about is expected word output. In the first link in my list for instance, the agency only offers permanent positions to those who can output "ideally well over 3000" words per day, which I don't think is very realistic.

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