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US Span-Eng interpretation rates/travel time
Thread poster: Yvette Neisser Moreno

Yvette Neisser Moreno  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jan 7, 2008

Hi folks, I've seen similar topics addressed in this forum, but I haven't seen my specific questions answered, and I'm hoping you can help me.

I am new to the field of interpretation, but I have begun doing non-specialized Spanish-English medical interpretation for one agency. I live in MD, in a suburb of Washington, DC. All of the interpretation assignments I do for this agency are doctor's appointments lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour. The locations vary, they are all local and I drive to the location from my house. Driving time is anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour (each way), distance anywhere from 10 miles to 40 miles.

Based on information I have gathered on this site, I have set my standard interpretation rate at $30/hour (with a 2-hour minimum). Because the actual interpretation time is so short, and the driving takes up most of my time, I have been charging my hourly rate "door to door", from the time I leave home to the time I return home. I have also been charging the standard U.S. mileage rate of $0.485/mile since I am always driving my own vehicle.

The agency keeps trying to get me to lower my rates, and I would like to know whether my rates are reasonable and/or is the agency trying to rip me off? They say that market rates for Spanish-English interpreters arelower than for other language pairs because there are so many Spanish-Eng interpreters on the market. They say that their standard payment is $20/hour (2-hour minimum) for INTERPRETATION TIME ONLY with no mileage reimbursement. In other words, if I drive one hour each way for a 1-hour assignment, I would only get paid $40 for 2 hours of work. For me, this is hardly worth the effort, as I probably wouldn't make a profit. They say that their end client does not pay them enough to pay me my standard rates.

Can those of you with more experience, especially in my language pair and/or geographical area, give me some advice/insight here?

Thank you so much in advance.


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Roxanna Delgado  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:10
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
They're trying to rip you off. Jan 7, 2008

That's how I got started on this business. Now I'm basically doing medical translations and not so much interpretation anymore. I'm in Miami, where I have to think there are way more interpreters for our language combination than where you are located, and they don't pay that good here to start with. The 2 companies that I used to work for, also for medical appt. (workers' comp cases), both pay $30.00/hour (minimum 1 hour) and mileage (one of them pays only 0.31, and the other one pays 0.48). Neither one of them pays traveling time. The time starts counting from the appt. time, even if we have to wait longer to see the doctor. I decided to stop doing this type of interpretation (sometimes I do legal, which pays better) because I didn't think it was worth it. I'll never take 20.00/hour, with no mileage. It wouldn't make any sense, in my opinion.

[Edited at 2008-01-07 22:06]


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linguadois
Local time: 14:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
not worth your time Jan 8, 2008

Yvette, I also work as an interpreter in Maryland. I would not even bother working for that agency unless you need the work and the experience. $30.00/hour was my initial rate when I started interpreting back in 1998 and I had no experience and no interpreter certification. One agency I had work for some years ago contacted me last year for the same type of assignment and wanted to pay me $30.00/hour with no mileage or travel time reimbursement. I told them no way! If everyone would stand their ground and request a better rate I think they would stop offering such ridiculous rates. But I would also encourage you to get some training and gain some experience and you'll get better paying jobs. Best of luck!

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teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
I agree with my colleagues Jan 8, 2008

I don't live in the same area, but I can tell you that $30 an hour for where I live (Texas) is very low. I dont' think that it's unreasonable to ask for mileage and travel time either. I do court interpreting, so I don't have to worry about things like that. The hourly rate and mileage reimbursement is set by the government. When I go out of town to interpret in district court, I also get paid for travel time.
If the agency is paying you $30 an hour for this work, you know they are not billing the client $30, they're just trying to keep more money for themselves when they complain about your rates. Is there any way that you could get assignments on your own? If you could get a contract, or an agreement with a large company, you'd both benefit. More than likely you'd charge less than the agency, and you'd make more money and be happier.
Good luck to you.


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Yvette Neisser Moreno  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jan 8, 2008

Thank you all for your very helpful insights. Obviously, I'm not going to continue working for this agency, and I intend to post my experience on the blue board.

By the way, Roxana, you may be surprised to know that there is a huge Latino population in the DC area, and along with that a substantial need for interpreters.

Thank you again--you all confirmed my suspicion, and I now feel that I am on stronger ground.

Yvette


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Jennifer Flamboe  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sounds Like the Latest Trend Jan 8, 2008

Your hourly rate does seem reasonable, however; from experience as a medical interpreter over the last five years in the Milwaukee area, I can tell you that agencies have consistently lowered their rate. In fact, many of my colleagues agree that the agencies in our area are driving the market down as competition swells, especially with SpanishEnglish services. They charge their clients less to lock in the hours, when in turn they offer to pay their interpreters less to avoid a loss.

The sad truth of the matter is, depending on the credibility of the agency, many will look for the cost-effective way of sending anyone charging a lower rate, regardless of qualifications or expertise, than someone who charges more. After all, agencies do make money off of their interpreters, so the less money the interpreter charges, the more the agency makes. (Most agencies in our area charge the hospitals between $35 and $45 per hour for Spanish interpreters, in addition to a two-hour minimum.)

You can try to stick to your guns and charge your $30 rate portal-to-portal, but many agencies will expect you to either charge portal-to-portal or charge a minumum plus mileage reimbursement. (The Federal rate is now $0.505/ mile...good luck trying to get them to pay you that, though!). Most will not allow you to do both, and yes, I have heard horror stories recently of some agencies refusing to reimburse mileage or pay for travel when in the past they did.

My personal experience with agencies echoes the other responses here, which is why I rarely work with them anymore. I basically used them in the beginning to gain experience to land work elsewhere. I set my rate at $30/hr. portal to portal and rarely get a phone call, however; I know if they do end up calling, I'll be making close to what I deserve for my time and experience. For now I concentrate on working directly with one hospital in a casual position, with steady hours and the flexibility to pick up other things on the side.

Overall, if you would like to continue interpreting in your area, I suggest you contact hospitals and clinics directly and see what options are available. Some still use freelance interpreters, while others are moving to a casual committment with their interpreters. Also, try to take courses whenever offered as they will not only improve your abilities, but they will also help you network with others in the same field in your area. You could always agree to work under the agency's guidelines to gain some experience and then move on, but be careful when signing any contracts! (Read them over carefully and be aware of what you're getting into). It takes a lot of dedication, patience and persistence to succeed in this field, but trust me, it can be done! : )


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Maria Ramon  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:10
Dutch to English
+ ...
Rates and mileage Jan 16, 2008

I just joined this community and I filled out my profile.

I'd like to say "Hi" to all on the Forum!

I hope to get to know a lot of the people here and get acquainted with y'all.

I have been working in the court since 1997, in two counties.
The rate I get paid is Federally regulated and has been the same since 1997: $ 40.00 per hour, with a 1 hour minimum. Mileage has been $ 0.405 since 2001. That is what I still charge for the one County that is a 1 hour drive away. I will change that now, because I just saw that the Federal rate is now $ 0.505.
If I travel to the other County and they failed to have contacted me ahead of time to advise me of a continuance, I charge a minimum of 2 hours + mileage.

If I interpret within a distance of 10 miles of my home, I charge $ 25.00 as a minimum for very general conversation, no specialty. I charge up to $ 100.00/hour for arbitrations, depositions, etc with private lawyers, who in turn will bill this to their clients. If the lawyer's office, or deposition or arbitration site is further than 10 miles from my home, I also charge mileage.

I have been a freelancer since 1997 and enjoy doing interpretations and translations.

I have often been called by the local hospital to translate in the emergency room when they had a non-English speaking patient. I billed the hospital $ 35.00/hour.

I hope this helps a bit. It is sometimes hard to decide a fee, but once you set it stick to it.

I am about to start phone interpreting for a large company, they offered to pay me $ 11.00/hour, calls or no calls. It appears that the required amount of hours is at least 5/day, Monday-Friday.
I have accepted the work and will start soon, however as an independent contractor I still have considerable time available for translations and other interpretations.

Hope the above information is helpful for the newer interpreters.


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Teri Szucs  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Location is everything Mar 21, 2008

In California Court certified interpreters charge by 1/2 or full day, 3 or 6 hours in the private sector, 4 or 8 hours in court. In the Los Angeles area, the private sector the rates go from $175 to $225 for 1/2 day and $325 to $400 for a full day. The 3 hour minimum is by statute, so is the 24 hrs cancellation fee.
In the Bay area rates are higher, in New York they are much higher, in Texas the cancellation policy is 48 hrs for 50% of the fee, 24 hrs for the full fee; In Arizona the rates are hourly, no minimum, but they start in the $90 range.
The Federal Court pays mileage over 30 miles plus, door to door traveling time.
Any more localized information on policy and rates for court certified interpreters would be appreciated.


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Paula Loubier  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:10
French to English
+ ...
Mileage rates/ portal to portal Feb 13, 2015

I know these posts date from 2008, but "plus ça change...".

I am struggling with mileage rates right now. I do have one agency that doesn't want to pay mileage, but I have just stuck to my policy and always charge 2 hr. minimum plus mileage. I sometimes charge both portal to portal and mileage.

I have not raised my rates for many years ($35 medical/community and $40 legal) with a 2 hour minimum. I have also refused to lower them, for the very reasons you have all brought up in your posts!
If we want to practice this profession--a profession demanding a high level of skill, not to mention a squeaky clean background, where we have to deal with cancellations, bad weather, and all the rest--we have to be able to make a living!

My question is: what do interpreters charge for mileage? I am in Wisconsin and have been charging the WI state rate (.51, but just recently lowered to .485) for state and court related assignments, and the federal rate (.56, but was just recently raised to .575 in January 2015). for other assignments. Now I'm hearing that many interpreters charge .50 for mileage, but looking back through these posts, that's what some people were charging back in 2008! Seems like I'm being asked to go backwards!

Any thoughts? Thanks for your input.


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Luximar Arenas Petty  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Standard Mileage Rates Jun 12, 2015

I just found this information that could be helpful to you:

http://www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Standard-Mileage-Rates


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