ProZ.com global directory of translation services
 The translation workplace
Ideas

 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >
User
Thread poster: EmmitaMango
How much do freelance translators earn?
EmmitaMango
Local time: 02:34
Apr 14, 2009

Hi,

I am thinking of a career change. I have a 2:1 in Modern Languages with International Studies obtained in 1998. Since graduating I have lived in Spain and then back in the UK. I have worked in IT (currently in banking in the City) since 2000. I don't use my languages at work now, and I have a very well paid job. The problem is that I find the work a bit boring. 50% of it is interesting, 50% is boring.

Languages were always my passion and I loved the translating modules in my degree. I have excellent Spanish and consider myself to be a very literate person. My degree and work experience has given me knowledge that would enable me to work in the areas of business, IT, current affairs, tourism and political translation. I think translation would be the ideal career for me, also given that I now have a 1 year old and another one the way, I would like a career that offers flexibility and the ability to be there for my children when they need me.

Could I earn decent money working as a freelance Spanish-English translator? Could a freelancer earn more than £60000 a year?

I appreciate if anyone could give me any advice.

Thanks.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:34
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
Some practical advice Apr 14, 2009


EmmitaMango wrote:

Could I earn decent money working as a freelance Spanish-English translator? Could a freelancer earn more than £60000 a year?



A lot depends on your own circumstances. I suggest you figure out how many words a day you can (or are willing to) translate and calculate your maximum income using the rate calculator here: http://www.proz.com/?sp=rate_calc . You can find information about average rates in your language pair under "Jobs" on the menu bar at the top of this page.

Then you need to account for the bite out of your gross from taxes and other overhead. Working as a freelancer isn't quite like working for an employer who pays you a salary. You will be owning and running your a business, albeit a small one.

Consider also that it will take some time to become established. You may not get much work right away. You might want to ease into it, working on a part-time basis at first. If you need an annual salary of £60000, you may not want to give up your day job right away.

[Edited at 2009-04-14 20:30 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Astrid Elke Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:34
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Do you have well-developed marketing skills? Apr 14, 2009

Do you know how to market your services?

Do you know who to market them to?

If not, you can always give it a go in your spare time, and see what happens.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Andrei Yefimov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 04:34
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Good advice from James Apr 14, 2009

James has given you a good advice. I am not that experienced to do so but some translators say there are freelancers who earn 100,000 USD a year. I even heard of some Japanese translators making up to 200,000 USD / year. Don't know if it is true though.

Perhaps if you have strong specialization in chosen fields and can charge very high rates you can make it true. But you should not be lured with my words since it will really take time to achieve this.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Siegfried Armbruster
Germany
Local time: 03:34
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Yes Apr 14, 2009


Could a freelancer earn more than £60000 a year?


To answer your question - Yes, but it takes time (count in years, not months), hard work, and specialization.

I wish you success.

Siegfried


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 22:34
Partial member (2006)
English to Spanish
... Apr 14, 2009

I have also heard of colleagues making a very good living, but I'd like to add that the English > Spanish market can be quite rough, with lots of competition and price dumping.

I cannot be 100% sure, but I'm willing to take a wild guess and say that the Spanish > English market isn't exactly sunshine & roses either. So I would take James's and Astrid's advice and ease into it slowly.

Greetings
Andrea

[Edited at 2009-04-14 22:10 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's really down to you Apr 14, 2009


EmmitaMango wrote:

Could I earn decent money working as a freelance Spanish-English translator? Could a freelancer earn more than £60000 a year?


Thanks.


As some people have pointed out, there are issues related to language combinations and time.

I would add a few more. First, the more specialised you are, the more likely you are to earn more. Secondly, the more focused you are in building up your business the more likely you'll achieve a particular earnings target sooner.

It's really down to you. From even Year 20, if you don't work on it and focus and specialise, you won't earn what you say.

The other issue is the long-term gains - and costs! The price you pay as a freelancer for your freedom typically has implications for when you are older, and also for when you might have personal difficulties, depending on what kind of social security coverage you will have.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

trebla
Canada
Local time: 21:34
Member (2008)
French to English
Don't quit your day job Apr 15, 2009

If you plan on doing translation work, you have to expect to run into some pretty hefty price competition, unless you are an in-house translator for some big firm. That, too can become pretty boring.

Take a look at some of the jobs posted on this site. At times, there are as many as 40 translators offering their services for a single project.

Guess what happens to the word rate in that kind of environment?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:34
Member (2009)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Not in Brazil Apr 15, 2009

Whether you can earn more than 60,000 quid a year as a freelance translator depends on a lot of things, including specialisation, experience and, an often overlooked point, country and place of residence.

For Brazil, this salary level is a pipe-dream. To make matters worse, nearly all you earn goes to the taxman - Brazil has the highest taxes in the world (and also the highest interest rates). However, if you stay in Europe you should be OK, from what I know this income level is quite realistic in Europe. In Brazil we also have intense competition pushing prices down, as anyone who has minimal knowledge of a foreign language tries out translation as a source of income.

I agree with other contributors that you should phase in translation gradually, as if it does not work out you always have your regular job.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Frying pan into the fire? Apr 15, 2009

I like translating but I'd say, like you, that I'm bored 50% of the time. The folks, who have posted above, have given you great advice.

I'd heed it or you may find yourself going from the frying pan into the fire.

Good luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Astrid Elke Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:34
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Just another small point Apr 15, 2009

A diploma in translation might be useful in marketing your services, as well as qualifying you for the job. A modern languages degree is not an adequate qualification to translate, but only a beginning.

I suggest you get in touch with the Chartered Institute of Linguists and find out about the Diploma in Translation. You can take part in a correspondence course in order to prepare for it. The City University, London, runs distance-learning courses.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:34
Flemish to English
+ ...
Stick to your guns Apr 15, 2009

Why don't you become an IT-freelancer, working on a project-basis like an employee, but paid like a freelancer. That pays about £80.000 a year with regular payments coming in.
From what I have heard from an IT-freelancer, in 90% of the cases he is paid on time i.e. 30 days after issuing an invoice.
Business consulting/Project consulting would be another possibility.

In the translation market, payment chasing and haggling over rates or looking for so-called errors to diminish the amount on the invoice are part of the game. Moreover the Spanish into English and vice-versa market is saturated. Going rates are from 0 or having to pay to work to maximum 0.08 p.w. Of course, three are exceptions who get a bit more.


[Bearbeitet am 2009-04-15 06:42 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:34
Member
Dutch to English
+ ...
The simple answer is Yes Apr 15, 2009

I live in the UK and can say that you can earn £60000 a year (and more) but I mainly work in Dutch/English not Spanish (which I also offer but for which I am considered too expensive). I have also been translating for more than 20 years and am specialised (technical). The secret is creating a niche for yourself (this can be having a specialised field but can also be being really fast, careful or reliable; a combination of all these things is a bonus: it makes and keeps customers happy).

The advice given is good: start by doing it as a sideline and when your earnings are OK, switch. The main hurdle is finding customers. Once you have and you are good, you will keep them (some of my customers go back 15 years). If you work in the City you must have a network of contacts in place. Use them!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:34
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Do the math... Apr 15, 2009


EmmitaMango wrote:
Could I earn decent money working as a freelance Spanish-English translator? Could a freelancer earn more than £60000 a year?


I doubt it. I'm under the impression that the Spanish-English market is fairly saturated with translators, so unless you're offering a highly specialised service, you're going to have to charge low rates to get clients.

Let's say you charge GBP 60.00 per 1000 words. To make GBP 60 000 a year, you'd need to translate 5000 words per day. If you up your rate to GBP 80, you need only 3750 words per day. Now the question is not whether you can translate that many words, but whether you will get that many words from clients. Ask not what translators earn -- ask how much work they generally get per day or per week.

Added: I just read Paul's post and I have to say that my math is based on income *before* tax. As a freelancer you may be able to pay a lot less tax if you consult an accountant in good time.

[Edited at 2009-04-15 07:35 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxwonita
China
Local time: 22:34
blood and sweat money Apr 15, 2009

As a translator you earn every cent with your hard mental and labor work. With labor work I mean your body is tied to a chair, shoulders and arms moving like a type machine, whilst your brain is under tremendous pressure.

Even if I could achieve £5000 per month, did I want it?


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >


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

Moderator(s) of this forum
Andy Lemminger[Call to this topic]
Jorge Rodrigues[Call to this topic]
Jenn Mercer[Call to this topic]
Natalia Volkova[Call to this topic]

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

How much do freelance translators earn?







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 »
SDL AutoSuggest Creator Add-on
Speed up manual translations with sub-segment matching

AutoSuggest accelerates translation editing in SDL Trados Studio 2014 through intelligent sub-segment matching suggestions while you type.

More info »