Average salary for translators
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:28
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 11, 2008

http://www.cbsalary.com/national-salary-chart.aspx?specialty=Translator&cty=&sid=&kw=Translator&jn=jn024&edu=&tid=2636&lr=cbmsn



[Edited at 2008-08-11 17:44]


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N.M. Eklund  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:28
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Net? Gross? Aug 11, 2008

Thanks for the link Jeff!

It's nice to be able to compare and see how we are doing as freelancers in comparison to an employee.
One thing though, the site didn't specify if that was the Net or Gross salary. I'm betting on gross.


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lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:28
Portuguese to English
What does the graph mean? Aug 11, 2008

That around 75% of in house translators in the US are earning about 51,000 USD? Why are the largest percentage in the graph earning the highest salary? One would expect, if not the opposite, at the least a Gaussian curve.

51,000 USD is not very much - about the average salary for a copy typist in London. A bit better than a typist could earn in Spain though.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:28
Dutch to English
+ ...
USD 51,000 Aug 11, 2008

EUR 33,500 give or take a few euros.

Assuming gross, not bad for a beginner - I suppose - but if people are only averaging that with considerable and targeted experience, they should seriously consider another line of business.


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Luis Arri Cibils  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:28
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Meaning of the curve and some comparisons Aug 11, 2008

lexical wrote:

That around 75% of in house translators in the US are earning about 51,000 USD? Why are the largest percentage in the graph earning the highest salary? One would expect, if not the opposite, at the least a Gaussian curve.

51,000 USD is not very much - about the average salary for a copy typist in London. A bit better than a typist could earn in Spain though.


Hi Lexical,

The curve is a cumulative curve: 25% of the US translators make LESS than USD 30K, 75% LESS than USD 51K. The median (50% more, 50% less) is USD 40K. In the US, for the lower 48, the poverty line for a family of four is USD $21K. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States

Below I copy data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website for another badly paid profession: teachers. Please take into account that teachers work 9 months a year (of course, who wouldn’t need 3 month vacation after teaching US high schoolers for 9 months!), but at least they have an opportunity to supplement their income in summertime doing other things. Further, I do not know whether the numbers for translators include benefits (mainly health insurance). Teachers do have benefits, thank goodness for them!

This is from the BLS (link included):

Median annual earnings of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers ranged from $43,580 to $48,690 in May 2006; the lowest 10 percent earned $28,590 to $33,070; the top 10 percent earned $67,490 to $76,100. Median earnings for preschool teachers were $22,680. (Preschool teachers seem to be in an even worse situation than translators. Of course, what do they do but to educate our very young children?)

http://www.cbsalary.com/national-salary-chart.aspx?specialty=Translator&cty=&sid=&kw=Translator&jn=jn024&edu=&tid=2636&lr=cbmsn

Yes, as Lawyer/Linguist says, U.S. translators should consider another line of work (or find their niche). In fact, I do believe that the general translation industry (although some niche opps. still exist) in the US is going the way of the U.S. textile industry.

Regards,
Luis


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:28
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
$51,000 would be awesome Aug 12, 2008

I would be jumping for joy if I earned anywhere even close to that.

lexical wrote:

That around 75% of in house translators in the US are earning about 51,000 USD? Why are the largest percentage in the graph earning the highest salary? One would expect, if not the opposite, at the least a Gaussian curve.

51,000 USD is not very much - about the average salary for a copy typist in London. A bit better than a typist could earn in Spain though.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:28
Dutch to English
+ ...
Is that all languages ... Aug 12, 2008

Luis Arri Cibils wrote:

Yes, as Lawyer/Linguist says, U.S. translators should consider another line of work (or find their niche). In fact, I do believe that the general translation industry (although some niche opps. still exist) in the US is going the way of the U.S. textile industry.



... or specifically Spanish-English-Spanish?

I know you say general, but suspect you may have meant that in terms of subject material. If there were a way to take Spanish-English-Spanish out of the equation, wouldn't the figures be considerably different?

A lot of the 'doom and gloom' trends we hear about on this site and elsewhere are linked specifically to Spanish-English-Spanish - trends that certainly don't hold true in many other languages.

Yet, that said, even though it's not one of my advertised working pairs, I'm often offered Spanish to English legal work for and in excess of EUR 0.10 (currently USD 0.15) - not an overly good rate for legal here in the EU, but certainly not one to be sniffed at. A local colleague of mine who specialises in technical translation, backed by two decades of experience in telecom and related sectors, is consistently inundated with Spanish to English job offers at good rates. A number of EU-based Spanish to English translators on this site, who all specialise, report the same trend. This leads me to believe that while the language combination appears over-saturated, demand still outstrips supply in the specialised sectors.

I can't comment on the US, I don't work with US agencies for a number of reasons, but you mention niche opps still exist there. Any idea what those opps realistically translate into in terms of average annual salary in the States?


[Edited at 2008-08-12 09:17]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:28
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Well, you can earn somewhat more than USD 51,000 p.a. in Germany Aug 12, 2008

The only snag is - the taxman takes the lot!

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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Another link Aug 12, 2008

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

... or specifically Spanish-English-Spanish?


I have no idea if this is meaningful or not, but you can check out:

http://www.indeed.com/salary

You can put in, for example
Russian to English Translator and New York, NY, or
English to Spanish Translator and El Paso, TX, or even
Legal Translator in Las Vegas, NV
etc.

It states average salary for that "job" and jobs with "related titles"


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Diarmuid Kennan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 09:28
Member (2006)
Danish to English
+ ...
It's per annum, not per month! Aug 12, 2008

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

I would be jumping for joy if I earned anywhere even close to that.

lexical wrote:

That around 75% of in house translators in the US are earning about 51,000 USD? Why are the largest percentage in the graph earning the highest salary? One would expect, if not the opposite, at the least a Gaussian curve.

51,000 USD is not very much - about the average salary for a copy typist in London. A bit better than a typist could earn in Spain though.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:28
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Aug 12, 2008



[Edited at 2008-08-12 18:48]


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Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:28
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
UK equivalent Aug 13, 2008

Is anyone aware of any equivalent stats for the UK?

I am much better off as a translator than I was as a London-based secretary, but I have no idea how I rate on the scale of other translators in the UK.


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Stats for the UK Aug 13, 2008

Hi Wendy,

If I remember correctly, the ITI published stats for salaries but I am afraid they are rather out of date now, but might serve as an indicator.

I don't know of any other more recent data (but someone else might) and I am at a loss to understand why they don't do it more often. The document (a PDF) relates to their members only, and is not a general view of the UK industry as a whole.

I might have a copy on my system somewhere, but it should still be on their website.


JP.


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Duobing Chen  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 16:28
Member (2008)
English to Chinese
+ ...
translator's life in China Sep 4, 2008

I read a lot about the topics, and I really learned a lot, that the competition, the life of freelance translators, about bad companies, etc., like in China.
in Proz, I am a freshman, and I know that a few translators get jobs from the wiebsite, and of course the price is much higher than domestic price, and I even cooperate with some of them. I wanted to try, but it seems difficult, so I mainly cooperate with domestic translation companies, wih the price much lower than yours, about 1/5-1/4, and my income is average 1,000 USD per month, relatively lower, but luckily I am in China, and at least I don't worry about my daily life.


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