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Poll: What's your average gross monthly income as a translator /interpreter?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 13:22
SITE STAFF
Jun 27, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What's your average gross monthly income as a translator /interpreter?".

This poll was originally submitted by Bin Tiede

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 22:22
Turkish to English
+ ...
How do they do it? Jun 27, 2008

I would love to hear from those who earn over USD 8000 a month. How do they do it?

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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:22
German to English
Definition of "income", please Jun 27, 2008

A term such as "gross monthly income" is simply too vague.

If asked, I would say that it means "income before taxes", i.e. revenue/sales less business expenses and allowable personal deductions. But it could equally (albeit ambiguously) refer to "revenue/sales from the provision of translation and/or interpreting services before deduction of business expenses".

Perhaps the poll could be suspended while this is being worked out, and then reopened with a less ambiguous question.


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Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 17:22
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I agree with the poster above Jun 27, 2008

When I answered, I understood the question to mean "income before taxes", as Robin suggests.
But perhaps because of different tax systems that exist in different countries it would be more interesting to know about our income after taxes.
Just a suggestion


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Leticia Klemetz, CT  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 21:22
Swedish to Spanish
+ ...
Dedication Jun 27, 2008

In order to properly evaluate this poll, it should be linked to another question: are you a part time or full time translator?

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:22
Dutch to English
+ ...
Some factors Jun 27, 2008

Tim Drayton wrote:

I would love to hear from those who earn over USD 8000 a month. How do they do it?


3,000 words a day, calculated on a 20-day working month, even at standard Dutch to English rates for specialist legal/financial translations and you can well surpass it, regardless of which definition applies (referring to what Robin points out above), and taking holidays etc into account.

I know of at least one financial translator, for instance, who is routinely earning EUR 0.18 a word as a freelancer and always busy, so do the maths. I know because I help him out from time to time.

Language pair rates differ enormously. I would imagine Turkish is probably on a par with Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Demand also depends on your specialism - I can vouch that legal, for instance, never lets up.

The better you know your subject, the quicker you translate, etc.

Also bear in mind the poll specifically refers to USD. That's only just over EUR 5,000 at the moment.

I'd be equally interested to hear from those at the lower end of the scale. Not meaning to sound rude at all, but why bother?

Is it perhaps that people are just working weekends/evenings? Is there just no demand for your language pair? Or is your language pair flooded? Are you living in a country with a very cheap cost of living? Or do you supplement your income with another activity, like teaching or writing?

Anyhow, I agree poll needs suspending and relaunching once there's clarity, otherwise the results are most definitely going to be skewed.

Have a nice weekend all
Debs


[Edited at 2008-06-27 18:52]


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Kemal Mustajbegovic  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:22
English to Croatian
+ ...
It all depens on country you live in Jun 27, 2008

It's absurd to compare my income in Australia with very strong AU$, having majority of clients in Australia, GB... with my colleagues in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for example working solely on the home front.

What I want to say is that this pol makes no sense on a global scene.

And, BTW, "gross income" means "earnings BEFORE tax".


Cheers!

[Edited at 2008-06-27 16:47]


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Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 17:22
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Translators offering to work for peanuts... Jun 27, 2008

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
I'd be equally interested to hear from those at the lower end of the scale.


I'm a translator of a very common language pair and I live in South America, but I am highly specialized and get lots of work both from European agencies as well as from end clients in South America and I can assure you that it is quite possible to make a very good living as a freelance translator even in what I believe must be "the" most common language pair.

That's why this poll surprised me so much and also made me wonder why some translators are making so little!!!

So, to figure out what's going on, I've been taking a look at the rates offered publicly on ProZ by some translators in my pair (Spanish-English), and frankly I find it incredible that some (in fact quite a few) offer rates as low as USD 0.03/word... I actually could not believe my eyes when I saw these figures...

I'm pretty sure those translators aren't getting much work; I myself would have second thoughts about contacting someone who believes his/her work is worth so little.

I guess in reply to this, I've seen jobs posted offering USD 0.025 (yes, it's not a typo) per word... What are these people thinking?

Have a nice day!!

Laureana


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theda  Identity Verified
Colombia
Local time: 15:22
German to French
+ ...
End of the scale Jun 27, 2008

Well, I guess I am kind of at the end of the scale right now
But I started as a full time translator 6 months only ago and my income is increasing every month, so I hope to climb up the scale to a comfortable income within this year. I don't take jobs that are paid under 0,07€, this is my limit and i think it just takes a bit of time to have enough regular customers.
Any advise welcome!

Have a nice week-end

Theda


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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 21:22
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
pickpocket question Jun 27, 2008

I called this poll "pickpocket", because I do not like (I do not want being rude and write: I simply hate) these kind of questions.
Shortly, none of your business who/where/when/how much earns.
I never ask my translators, I am fine if the business is going on the way, we all had good times and bad times. I would never ask anybody about monthly/yearly income, it is just very unpolite. We all are working/living under various conditions, we are located in different countries, and our requests/desires are different too, I guess.
Over 8000 USD/month? Never had, never desired, never will get. I love my job but life is something to enjoy. Enjoy what given for you and accept things how they are. I am a simply country girl ;-D


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Larissa B  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:22
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Anonymous Jun 27, 2008

Erzsébet Czopyk wrote:
Shortly, none of your business who/where/when/how much earns.


The poll is anonymous, for statistical purposes only, and I find it very interesting. No one is required to disclose their personal financial information.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:22
French to English
Rough Jun 27, 2008

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

Tim Drayton wrote:

I would love to hear from those who earn over USD 8000 a month. How do they do it?


3,000 words a day, calculated on a 20-day working month, even at standard Dutch to English rates for specialist legal/financial translations and you can well surpass it,

Indeedy.

If you play around with combinations of 20-25 days a month, 2,500-3,000 words per day and rates starting as low as €0.08 and above and there are plenty of levels of work allowing you to hit €5k per month. Depending which particular combination you go for, it can be hard work, but even without the healthy rate mentioned by L-L, it's attainable.


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lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:22
Portuguese to English
debatable logic Jun 27, 2008

Larissa B wrote:

Erzsébet Czopyk wrote:
Shortly, none of your business who/where/when/how much earns.


The poll is anonymous, for statistical purposes only, and I find it very interesting. No one is required to disclose their personal financial information.


That is not the point, Larissa, and Erzsébet is quite right - it's an unjustified intrusion. It might - just- be different if this were a properly conducted, official survey but it isn't - it's just a bit of amateurish, non-scientific nosiness.

It seems to be a common modern defence to say "No one is required to (or forced to) ...(whatever)".

Suppose you have strong moral feelings about late abortion or wearing a Muslim headscarf - is it OK to say:
- No one is forcing you to have an abortion (so shut up), or
- No one is forcing you to wear a headscarf (so shut up).

The implication being that "we" can carry on doing what we planned to do, and the objectors can slink away into a corner because "no one is forcing them to take part".


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Maria Isabel Pazos Gómez  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:22
Member (2007)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Interpreting increases the income Jun 27, 2008

Hello,

8000 USD a month is just a bit more than 5000€. For a busy interpreter this is not that much. The rates in Germany for an interpreter job start at 500€/ day.
That sounds much, but

1. I am not that busy and so far I haven´t got all the conections, plus I don´t like to be all day out, I have a family to attend etc. (so I am not the one who voted more than 8000 USD) But I know some very average people who surely earn this and more!

2. Unfortunately there are the taxes and all the social insurance etc etc, so net income is approx. a 50% lower. No joke!

An average income, I just reat it in the newspapers, in Germany is 3000€. So nothing amazing you need an income of more than 4000 USD (~ 2500€) to live good here. For this reason I don´t understand how people could afford to live here and to accept low rates. No idea how they manage....

Nice evening,

Mabel


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Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:22
French to English
+ ...
good money for part-time, I think. Jun 27, 2008

This month I grossed around 2000 USD doing it part-time, and I have a 500-dollar project lined up that's due on July 1st. I haven't been doing the freelance thing long enough to come up with a telling "average" since I'm still building up my client base. But I'm getting more repeat business and having to bid less, so I'm happy with my progress over the last 9 months.

Crystal


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