Mobile menu

Seeking advice from experienced community interpreters
Thread poster: Joanna Gałecka

Joanna Gałecka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:12
English to Polish
+ ...
Jun 18, 2008

Hello!

I work as a community interpreter and I have found myself in a bit of a pickle recently. Since April I have been working for a certain agency. They have been giving me a fair amount of work, however their rates are poor as they don't pay travel time.

Although they are now my main source of income and I enjoy the work they give me, I would still like to work for other agencies (don't put all your eggs in one basket and all that). Yet, I find it almost impossible as the aforementioned agency books me for work well in advance. I thus find myself turning down job after job from other agencies (not that they come that often but still) and it worries me that they will simply stop phoning. The way things are at the moment, I need more work/better paid work to make ends meet.

One of the private agencies recently advised me that they can't give me work in advance because their main clients - courts/the police - require their interpreters to have a DPSI, which currently I do not have. While I want to pick this up at some point in the future, it's a tad expensive just now. Besides, I'm not sure how much having the Diploma would actually change.

I wanted to ask if any of you have ever had any similar problems and how you managed to overcome them and I would really appreciate any comments or advice you might have for me.

Thanks.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Arlete Moraes  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:12
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Try Telephone Interpreting Jun 19, 2008

Hello Joanna,

Why don't you look for agencies that offer Telephone Interpreting? The rate is just about the same in the UK, but with the advantadge of working from home.
At least in my language pair there is plenty of work.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2008-06-19 05:16]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:12
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
It is a question of supply and demand Jun 19, 2008

There is no simple answer to your question.

I think it is a good idea to try telephone interpreting and also get into translation work.

If you do have a regular supply of work from an agency at least you have work....it is not that easy to come by at the moment as a lot of face-face stuff is being done on the phone!!, for better or worse...the latter usually!

But as I say it is a question of supply and demand and economics.

You could always ask the agency if they would pay travel expenses, or have you already done that? Seems unusual in any case as all the agencies I work for do..

Liz Askew
Interpreter and Translator


Direct link Reply with quote
 
teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
A few ideas Jun 19, 2008

Accepting a low paying assignment for the future to later get an offer for a better paying one, is something that goes with the territory. It's happened to me too many times to count, and it will continue to happen no doubt. There's no simple solution. If you were to tell the agency that from now on you're only going to accept assignments one week in advance, they might call someone else.

You will have to evaluate if other better paying agencies call you often enough that you may want to start telling your other client when he calls that you are busy, in order to free the time. But it's a gamble.

Ideally, you should be able to transition, so you start working more often for the other agencies. Have you considered raising your rates? Not getting paid for travel time, and getting paid low wages is a double whammy. Do you know what other interpreters in your language pair charge in your area?

I can't comment much about that credential you mentioned, DPSI, since I live in the US, I'm not familiar with that. Here, any interpreter who works in court, as I do, needs to have a state or federal certification (with a few exceptions). It's always a good idea to add to your curriculum anything that will prepare you better for your job, and probably allow you to earn more.

Good luck to you.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Joanna Gałecka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:12
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification Jun 19, 2008

I just wanted to clarify that I do get paid travel expenses (i.e. get reimbursed for bus/train tickets, etc.), I do not, however, get paid for the time I spend travelling. To be fair, the agency's rate is better than those offered by others employers. However, this doesn't translate into a better income as I might spend the whole day out "working", when in fact I have only interpreted for 3 hours and spent the rest of the time commuting.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

QUOI  Identity Verified

Chinese to English
+ ...
Over this corner of the world... Jun 23, 2008

the payment for an assignment (a job) where the location of the assignment is within the defined metropolitan area (approximately 70KM in the longest direction) includes travelling time. Once you are outside the zone, you will be paid travelling time but only for the time you travel between the boundary point and the job location. Some private agencies just don't pay at all.

A few years ago, I had to do a job. I drove to the airport at 7.00 am, took the 45 min flight, got a rental car at the other end, drove another 1.5 hours, arrived at the location, interepreted for 30 min, drove back, spent the next 5 hours visiting galleries and drinking coffee because there were only two flight services to this small town, and took the flight back home.

So, it comes down to whether it's worth the effort to go out to those places.


[Edited at 2008-06-23 07:30]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Aline C.

Local time: 07:12
English to Finnish
Think long term Jul 2, 2008

Dear Joanna, you say:
"One of the private agencies recently advised me that they can't give me work in advance because their main clients - courts/the police - require their interpreters to have a DPSI, which currently I do not have. While I want to pick this up at some point in the future, it's a tad expensive just now. Besides, I'm not sure how much having the Diploma would actually change."

Court rates are available on home office website:

http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/operational-policing/national-agreement-interpret.pdf (general agreement on the use of interpeters in the Criminal Justice System)

http://commercial.homeoffice.gov.uk/doing-business/terms-and-conditions/ - (rates look at the bottom of the page, not the first two terms and conditions)

See what the official rates are and compare with the rates you are being paid now. Police pay better - each police force have their own rates, not sure what it is like in Scotland but in England you get paid from the moment you leave your home, after 8 p.m. or early in the morning and Saturday/Sunday rates are higher. And yes, it is always last minute.

I would advise you to be more business-oriented: in any business you invest first to get the return later. Calculate whether investing in DPSI is worth it (you can recuperate the cost of DPSI in 1-2 days if you are lucky or in 5 days if you are less lucky). Being freelance is risky. I was at your stage 8 years ago and I decided not to accept low-paid jobs in advance because I wanted to risk waiting for a better-paid offer (the loss was much smaller than the potential gain) I told my long-standing community interpreting clients that I can only accept those jobs the day before after 4 p.m. or on the day unless they will pay me my standard daily rate (i.e. 7 hour-day) and agree to a cancellation clause. They could not and they continued phoning me with last minute offers. So I would advise you to be more assertive and to be prepared to take risks. Otherwise you will never make a decent living out of interpreting.

All the best,

Kasia (tez abswolentka ILS-u).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Miriam300
Local time: 07:12
English to Polish
+ ...
travelling time Aug 30, 2008

Joanna Gałecka wrote:

I just wanted to clarify that I do get paid travel expenses (i.e. get reimbursed for bus/train tickets, etc.), I do not, however, get paid for the time I spend travelling. To be fair, the agency's rate is better than those offered by others employers. However, this doesn't translate into a better income as I might spend the whole day out "working", when in fact I have only interpreted for 3 hours and spent the rest of the time commuting.


I agree with you Joanna, the traveling time is such a drag,and a waste of one's time. You could be out on just two jobs lasting 1 hour with gaps in between, so say you leave the house at 9am , but don't get back till 4 pm, and only get paid for 2 hours work!

Maybe you should seriously consider telephone interpreting, or translation work?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Joanna Gałecka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:12
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Aug 30, 2008

Thank you everyone for your advice and help.

In the last few months things have changed a little bit. Back in June I had few other job offers than the interpreting assignments from the agency I wrote about. I was paralysed with fear that if I started turning jobs down or said I could only take jobs a few days in advance, not a week before, they would stop phoning me altogether.

And then suddenly I started receiving more translation job offers, including ones through proz, which is such a great return on becoming a paid member. (I have done and do translating, it was the lack of job offers that was the problem.) Now that I have some savings I feel more confident about working on my terms and being "more business oriented", although I still wouldn't dare ask for a better rate from the agency or for them to pay my travel time*. Kasiak, I'm not sure if I'm right but I think that this might have worked several years ago, when demand for interpreters was greater. I am pretty sure that now I would be shown the door.

As for telephone interpreting, I think this is something I would like to do the least. Translation work is fine but for short periods as I can't stand spending all my time indoors at a computer desk. So for the time being I'm alternating between translating and interpreting. Finding a balance is certainly not easy, but it comes easier when there's no financial pressure to work at any cost.

Once again, thank you all for your help!

* ...at large, it works like that here too, except that most of the work I do is within the city boundaries and thus travel time is not paid.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Aline C.

Local time: 07:12
English to Finnish
Well done! Sep 18, 2008

[quote]Joanna Gałecka wrote:

"Kasiak, I'm not sure if I'm right but I think that this might have worked several years ago, when demand for interpreters was greater. I am pretty sure that now I would be shown the door."

Several years ago the UK job market for Polish interpreters was much worse - true there were fewer interpreters but there were also far fewer Poles we could interpret for!

If you play it right, it can only get better!

Glad, that things are looking up for you.

Kasia


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Joanna Gałecka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:12
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Never rest on your laurels Oct 30, 2008

Thanks kasiak. Things did get better although I'm now thinking of taking the EU accreditation exam. I'm fed up with all this commuting!

Watch this space, I'll probably do even more complaining from now on.

Asia


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Seeking advice from experienced community interpreters

Advanced search


Translation news





Across v6.3
Translation Toolkit and Sales Potential under One Roof

Apart from features that enable you to translate more efficiently, the new Across Translator Edition v6.3 comprises your crossMarket membership. The new online network for Across users assists you in exploring new sales potential and generating revenue.

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs