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Poll: CAT tool users: How have CAT tools affected your income?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 00:08
Mar 18, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "CAT tool users: How have CAT tools affected your income?".

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Arianna Tremayne  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:08
German to English
+ ...
Has increased Mar 18, 2006


I could not imagine not using a CAT tool anymore. Translation speed has at least doubled. And in a lucky incident where some TUs can be used again, its even faster.
Now I am thinking about using a speech engine, which apparently also contributes to speed (also as I am not touch typing )


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Heike Kurtz  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:08
English to German
+ ...
could not do without Mar 19, 2006

CAT tools have increased my income because there are many jobs I would have to decline without them. They increase my speed even if I cannot use any TM. My CAT tool simplifies proofreading and QA and helps me improve accuracy e.g. when documents contain long rows of numbers or currency sums. Moreover, it is easier to assure consistent terminology.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:08
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No appreciable effect Mar 19, 2006

but then I started translating touch-typing for international conferences.

About 10% of my current jobs require it. I have two top fields, IT/telecoms and legal. When I get long specs, I use it whether required to or not, and put it aside for legal.

On the whole I tend not to use it when I feel it will in some way hamper my speed, for instance when I need to keep track of more than one section of the translation at a time for reference purposes. (The TU focus is excessively local for me).

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Cecilia Civetta  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:08
Member (2003)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
Decreased?? Mar 19, 2006

Can anyone who chose "my income has decreased" explain how this happened?

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Eva Blanar  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:08
English to Hungarian
+ ...
The reason for a decrease Mar 19, 2006

It's easy: CAT tools have been invented to help translators, but they bring profits to the agencies.

It is true that using CAT tools is a very important tool to deliver consistent translations, it's a must when you are working in a team, but in terms of profits, the main beneficiaries are translation agencies - just have a look at the job postings. (In particular, the doubtful agencies.)

BTW: why on earth shall we charge less to an unknown agency for a translation where no CAT tool is provided, no TM is provided, but there are repetitions? It is with MY investment - "Trados required". "x% for repetitions" - that THEY are making profits and can become more competitive on the market, pushing OUR prices down.)

My personal experience:
- my output increased,
- it's easier to deliver proper quality,
- with more output I have higher earnings,
- but my income per unit of translation dropped.

That's how it works.

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:08
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Eva is right on Mar 19, 2006

Eva is right on target in her explanation of how CAT tools can result in a *decrease* in income for an individual translator. Who *are* all of those smiling people in the Trados ads? I rather doubt that they are translators who spent upwards of $700 for the Trados software and then invested dozens of hours of their own time in order to gain a rudimentary understanding of it, only to find that being registered Trados users enabled them to be offered jobs where they could now earn 2 cents per word for identical matches and 4 cents for "fuzzy matches".

No. Those smiling faces must surely belong to two different classes of people altogether: Those involved in the creation and marketing of Trados and those directors of translation agencies who have found their own leverage dramatically increased when it comes to negotiating rates with a translator who has Trados.

Do not Trados and similar tools actually work in this way to depress the rates offered to qualified translators?

Surely this is nothing to smile about.

None of this of course even touches two other important issues re CAT tools:

1.) Whether they tend to transform translators into data-entry clerks whose main usefulness tends to be seen in their ability to manage a software tool and translation memory.

2.) Whether in the long run productivity (which is of course the bottom-line justification of CAT Tools in the first place) really is notably improved for many different classes of documents. It would seem that, paradoxically, the greater the translation memory of the CAT Tool being used, the more this would tend to slow down work, since any given string of words might evoke he program's suggestion of several possible alternatives. Plowing through a document having to sort through numerous different possibilities in this way strikes me as neither productive nor as a modus operandi likely to yield higher quality work than a skilled and judicious translator using standard reference tools might be capable of.

I would be interested to hear the opinions of people who use these tools regarding how much more money they have made as a result of CAT Tools - and on what class of documents they have found such tools helpful.

[Edited at 2006-03-20 00:01]

[Edited at 2006-03-20 01:35]

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Jeremy Smith  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:08
French to English
+ ...
Can't really say Mar 20, 2006

I have always used CAT tools (only started freelancing 2 years ago), so I don't have a pre-CAT income to compare it with, although it's a pretty safe bet that I would not be able to do as much work without them.

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Maria Tulbure  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:08
Member (2005)
English to Romanian
+ ...
TRADOS both and advantage and a disadvantage Mar 20, 2006

Like Jeremy Smith, I also started freelancing not long ago (about 2 years ago) and when I did, I also started using Trados. I have been a translator for almost 20 years, being employed as a translator with two companies during this period. Since I started freelancing I used to work with several companies, some of them demanding imperiously to work with Trados, some of them not even having heard of it. I would say my price per page is almost the same whether I work with Trados or not. But as I have already said in a previous forum on Trados I find it very challenging and interesting to work with it. I usually have to do large projects (technical translations with rather many repetitions) for which Trados is really useful. I use Trados for any large project even if I am not asked to, which is an advantage, as the customer does not know about it and does not calculate the price per word taking into account repetitions. I use Trados even with small translations if they are quite similar. On the other hand, when I work for translation agencies imposing to use Trados, they are very strict when calculating the price per word, which is almost nothing for repetitions, and which I do not think is fair as it is not always appropriate to use the same translation for a certain word or phrase. It is true using Trados or any such tool, makes you pay less attention to the translation itself but more attention to the tags, for instance, if you have to use TagEditor. All in all I find Trados extremely useful for technical translations, especially if you also use MultiTerm, as you do not have to look up for terms each time you meet them, as you already have them in the termbases or in the translation memory.

[Edited at 2006-03-20 11:38]

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Joy Lewis

Local time: 04:08
French to English
+ ...
Still undecided Mar 20, 2006

Hello All,

As a non-Trados user, I have dithered over whether I should make the financial investment to purchase this expensive piece of software for a few years now. A couple of years ago, I did a rather rudimentary poll amongst the agencies with which I worked of the number of translators on the database who used the software. At the time, Trados users were definitely in the minority (I don’t remember figures… just being told that most of the translators didn’t use it). Today, I find the results of this Proz poll particularly interesting in the light of an email I received overnight from a translation agency, containing the phrase, “…without Trados software you are unlikely to be used for larger projects …” If this is indeed the current trend amongst translation agencies, it would seem that unless I acquire Trados, those 20,000 to 60,000+-word translations are now a thing of the past for me. Yet, whenever the CAT tool investment - influence on bottom line issue is raised, in whatever form in any of these translator forums, the results always seems ambivalent. What’s more, it is apparently not easy to master. In this poll, thus far, only 41% have seen a positive impact on income, which means the majority, 59%, haven’t. Today, I’m going to conduct another rudimentary poll of those agencies. FYI, I will reveal the results in another post if I am allowed.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:08
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I haven't voted... Mar 20, 2006

... because I honestly don't know whether CAT tools make a lot of difference to my income.

I have simply refused to use one CAT tool provided by a client. It was just too slow and unstable, and while hassling with their tool I ended up working long, late evenings and saying no to jobs I would rather do but did not have time for! But being a good client (agency) they have accepted my decision. They send TMs and let me use Trados instead where it helps. (They send texts by fax or in PDF files now and then too, but if that's supposed to be a penalty I can live with it )

With Trados I have gone from total frustration (the dongle did not work reliably, but it did work for the first Harvester test...) to being quite fond of it for certain jobs.

Once I convinced the help desk that it was the dongle, not me, that was the problem, and received an apology and a new dongle, things began to look up.

Increased income??? I doubt it. The price of courses and the time spent on attending them, reading manuals, maintaining TMs and other 'down time' all add up. Even with 'fantastic reductions', updates cost many Euros/dollars or whatever, and like Parrot, I find CATs are no advantage for many of the texts I work on.

I am in fact earning more than before I got Trados to work, but I spend less time reading, studying, watching TV, exercising and seeing friends than I did then, so I don't think Trados gets much of the credit.

I did try an early version of Deja Vu for a project, and it was great for that project, but in general I'd feel the same about it as Trados. I also worked alongside some technical translators who would be lost without Trados - but I would go completely mad if I had to do the kind of work they do for more than a week or two!

So when you negotiate rates, folks, remember the down-time and the expenses of using CAT tools, not just the percentage of repetitions in the current text.

As far as I can see CATs do help to keep quality up, and working with Multiterm and the concordance is more fun than the old-fashioned word list with pencil and paper... but it's not necessarily faster or cheaper - maybe the opposite!

It takes all sorts to make a world - luckily - so happy translating, whatever you specialise in ...

[Edited at 2006-03-20 13:38]

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Henk Peelen  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:08
Member (2002)
German to Dutch
+ ...
has doubled my income Mar 20, 2006

I'm technical translator, and manuals for big industrial companies tend to have a lot of look-alikes. So first of all, having Trados, or another purring mouse hunter, means those companies more probably select you for their all-time translator. The Trados search engiine on their website might help with that. Secondly, though I give deductions for repetitions, my hourly wages have doubled as well. Trados very clearly singles the concerning sentence out the document, which speeds up the translation very much. Next to that the correction cyclus goes much faster, because you always have the concerning source an target sentence above each other. I alway use Trados, and when I have a paper source text with a long dadline I'll try to find someone who glazes it's for me, so I only have to look at the two text boxes on my screen.

[Edited at 2006-03-20 14:48]

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