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What are interpreting agency rates in the UK really??
Thread poster: Ania Heasley

Ania Heasley  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:59
English to Polish
+ ...
Mar 24, 2011

I apologise if this is a recurring question but I am so frustrated! I am trying to find out whether it would be a good idea to register with a few more interpreting agencies for work in the UK, both face to face and telephone.
I have recently called a few agencies with a simple question 'how much do you pay your interpreters?' and none of them have so far answered my question! They tell provide me with a variety of non-answers, ranging from:
- we do not reveal our rates until you are on our books
- it is against company policy to reveal rates over the phone
- how do we know you are not an interpreting agency asking for our rates
- you have to go through our recruitment process and then we will tell you, if we decide to put you on our books
- etc, etc, etc.

Application and recruitment processes are lengthy, and require completing never ending pages and pages of information, copies of certificates, original CRB document, passport photos, etc, etc. I am not willing to go through all this process only to find out, as the case might be, that a given agency pays £15.00 per hour....

So here is my question. Can anyone please let me know what the rates of pay for interpreters are with most/biggest/most popular UK agencies? I am interested in Polish-English combination, but as I understand agencies pay the same rate for most languages, any information would be helpful.

And another question while I am at it, why are the rates such a well guarded secret......???

Thank you
Ania


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 21:59
I was offered 19 Euro per hour Mar 24, 2011

Hallo Ania,

Once a renown UK agency was in a great hurry to find an interpreter to carry out an English-Chinese assignment in Prag. This agency contacted me and offered 19 Euro per hour.

This agency is quite popular on Proz.com with more than a hundred 5s on their BB. Their project manager rang me for this job, revealing that their standard interpreting rates were 19 Euro per hour.

Regards,
Bin


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:59
French to English
+ ...
Your rates Mar 24, 2011

I don't see why interpreting should be any different from translating - you need to tell them your rates from the start, so you don't waste any time filling in forms etc if they won't accept your rates in the end.

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Ania Heasley  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:59
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Who dictates the terms.... Mar 24, 2011

@ Angela, I have seen this type of comment ('you tell them your rates') before, but my experience with agencies is that it is the agencies who tell the interpreters (or not as in my story above) what rates they pay, and the interpreters can take it or leave it.

It's the buyers' market.

I can tell an end client, if I deal with them directly, how much I charge, and then the client can take it or leave it, but with agencies it's the other way round, isn't it?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Take Charge Mar 24, 2011

If you are a freelancer, then you are a professional and need to take charge. If you want to know rates, do not ask agencies, ask your colleagues. Agencies are not in the business of giving you any information; the more they can keep you in the dark, the better for them.

Then set your own rates. Those who do not agree do not get your services.

19 euros per hour is miserable in my part of the world and I'm sure it is there also.

[Editado a las 2011-03-24 15:09 GMT]


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:59
Member
French to English
+ ...
The little that I have read/heard Mar 24, 2011

First, I should point out that I'm not an interpreter. However, I happen to know of one agency in Birmingham that offered its interpreters £7 per hour in 2002 for all language pairs, plus travel expenses up to a certain limit. It charged its clients £35 per hour. This was a small agency, not one of the big telephone interpreting agencies, so I've no idea whether it was representative of the industry as a whole. They might be paying more now, for all I know.

As to why agencies don't want their rates to become common knowledge, only they can tell you that, but I can't help wondering what effect it would have on their image if that kind of information entered the public domain - especially in the case of agencies that have signed contracts with the police, courts etc. I've already seen one article in the Irish press about an agency in the Republic that pays court interpreters an allegedly miserly rate. Complaints about interpreting quality were mentioned. Because of the economic woes and downward pressure on public spending, rates of pay in public-sector work are becoming a more contentious political issue - see, for instance, http://vls.proz.com/translation-news/?p=19999

I take it you already know about the NRPSI debacle and the rumpus about the police contracts? In any case, judging by what I've heard, I gather this is not a great time to be working as an interpreter in the UK, in comparison with years gone by.

[Edited at 2011-03-24 15:19 GMT]


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Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:59
Italian to English
+ ...
Agency rates Mar 24, 2011

Let's put it like this, I won't work for agencies and I'm considering stopping police and court work, that's how good it is!

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:59
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Been there, done that Mar 24, 2011

Susanna Garcia wrote:
I'm considering stopping police and court work, that's how good it is!


Time was when the courts kept a roster of qualified people, appreciated them (you felt it, anyway) and paid them directly (no matter how long it took). Since jobs were put up for bidding en masse, things have changed.

That apart, it should not discourage you from doing the maths: if you earn more than 19 pounds an hour translating, I don't see the advantage in getting out of your pyjamas for less than your income at the desk. And that's why, I guess, colleagues will tell you to name your own rates. If you are not taken at your own assessment, there's little point in insisting you should work more and earn less.


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:59
French to English
+ ...
Freelancing Mar 24, 2011

Ania Heasley wrote:

@ Angela, I have seen this type of comment ('you tell them your rates') before, but my experience with agencies is that it is the agencies who tell the interpreters (or not as in my story above) what rates they pay, and the interpreters can take it or leave it.

It's the buyers' market.


Not necessarily. I still think it is worth naming a price to the agency in question (even if you're prepared to lower this a little, if they start to negotiate), so you know whether it is worthwhile filling in the forms.

It's only a buyer's market if there are too many suppliers. That's basic economics. If you are a good interpreter, they need you.

I realise there are major issues at the moment with public service interpreting in the UK, with large contracts being farmed out at low prices, but the basic principles of freelancing still apply, i.e. that you are running a business, and you set the rates. Obviously not so high that you get no work - in the end this is the limiting factor.


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Martin Stranak  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 01:59
Member (2009)
English to Czech
+ ...
Not quite sure about all the language combinations... Mar 24, 2011

...but a decently experienced freelancer in the Czech/Slovak/English language combination should be getting about 25-29 GBP per hour of interpreting and 15 GBP per hour of travel and waiting time, plus potential per diem, lodging and travel allowance in case of assignments abroad...

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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:59
Swedish to English
+ ...
Do your hours contract whilst travelling/waiting around? Mar 24, 2011

Martin Stranak wrote:

25-29 GBP per hour of interpreting and 15 GBP per hour of travel and waiting time


If not, all your hours should be charged at the same rate.

We sell our time and this is what we should charge for. My time is no cheaper doing X rather than Y. Each hour contains the same amount of minutes regardless of what I'm doing - interpreting, translating, travelling or just picking my nose.

BTW - GBP29/hour is very cheap for a professional based in the UK.


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Ania Heasley  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:59
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Mar 25, 2011

@ Bin - thank you for an actual hourly rate, this has confirmed my worst fears.

@ Everybody else - thank you for your advice to 'tell them what your rates are' but I think we all know that this is not how agencies (AGENCIES, I stress) work.

They have a glut of interpreters from what I gather, they set the rate, and you decide whether you are going to find a better rate elsewhere, or you grin and bear it for a while.
When I find an agency (I stress again: AGENCY) in the UK that pays more than £25 per hour, and the same (ha ha ha) for travelling time I will let you know. Do not hold your breath!


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Carol So  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:59
Member (2008)
English to Chinese
+ ...
it's not any better even if you are not working for the agencies Mar 25, 2011

From my experiences, some councils and NHS have already lowered their rates to the 'market rate'- the rate agencies would pay- so even if you are working for the councils and NHS directly, you are still getting GBP15 per hour, plus around GBP8 per hour for your travelling time plus mileage (not all of them though, I know one NHS is paying a flat rate of GBP5 as travelling cost, regardless of the distance of your journey).

Some agencies are slightly better, paying GBP20-30 per hour for interpreting, plus travelling time (GBP6-10 per hour), and mileage.

I am trying to accumulate 400 interpeting hours for NRPSI, but these rates are just ridiculous, and I am not sure if I should just take it and bear it.


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:59
Member
French to English
+ ...
What one agency charges a police force Apr 5, 2011

I just came across this, so I thought I'd post a link. It's an agreement between an agency (Cintra) and Derbyshire Constabulary. Annex 1 gives details of the rates that Cintra charges Derbyshire Constabulary. Of course it doesn't say how much Cintra pays its interpreters, but I think we can assume they take a fair chunk of the £45.35 that they charge per hour between 8am and 8pm (£55.90 for evenings and weekends) for FTF interpreting. These charges were effective for "at least 12 months" from 1 April 2010. Their translation rates are also given, and make very interesting reading.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:fnvuEYCHe8oJ:live.dcon.contensis.co.uk/Documents/About-Us/Freedom-of-Information/Policies/InterpreterServices.pdf%20Cintra%20AND%20"DPSI"%20AND%20"force"&cd=14&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&source=www.google.co.uk


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Alice Crisan  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:59
English to Romanian
+ ...
Any other link? Apr 5, 2011

HTTP Error 404. The requested resource is not found.

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