Telephone Interpreting - is it worth calling to let them know my availability?
Thread poster: Jesús Marín Mateos

Jesús Marín Mateos  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jun 1, 2004

Dear colleagues,
I have had this doubt in my mind for ages and here it goes. I 'am in the books' of 2 telephone interpreting agencies and I need to call them to let them know I am at home so that they can put calls through to me. The case is that when I do it they never put any call through to me. One of them has got a paying number which means I spend money to let them know I am available and the other one is a free number. My experience is that this is useless since in a year they have never 'used' me. The process to get on their books is long and demanding (references, this and that...). Is there someone out there who has actually done this kind of interpreting on a regular basis? Do you think that my language pair English into Spanish is not very popular with this type of interpreting?
Any comment would be appreciated because I am deciding whether it is worth calling them to let them have my availability.
Many thanks.

[Edited at 2004-06-01 12:06]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-06-01 13:15]


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
Forget Jun 1, 2004

They seem to have forgetten you, I would forget them and move on. It does not appear that phone interpreting pays much anyway. In your part of the world I do not know what the demand might be, but there is probably a fair amount here in the USA.


Marlene Curtis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:56
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It is not worth it!!! Jun 1, 2004

Jesus Marin:

I did some over-the-phone interpretation work for a few months about three years ago here, in the US, and, believe me, it is not worth it. What happens is they had a call-center in California and called me (in FLorida)at home at times when their fixed translators called in sick or they had too many calls their translators could not cope with, which was rare. I had to make myself available from 9AM to noon from Monday to Saturday and they seldom called, except for Saturdays mornings, for obvious reasons (their in-house translators did not work on Saturdays). The pay was preposterous, a mere US$0.60 per minute you spoke and I never made more than US$250.00 a month.
I hope that helps you.


Kateryna Osokine
Local time: 07:56
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
I'm doing it now... Suggestions Jun 2, 2004

Dear Jesus Marin:

I would definitely not continue with the company that doesn't have a toll-free number (after all, they are not paying you for stand-by time). You might consider researching some more of those companies to locate the largest ones, and get in "their books" - but you have to be careful, since some require that you are "logged in" at only one company at a time.

Maybe English-Spanish pair is not in much demand in the UK - try looking into Spanish phone interpreting companies, for example. By the way, you should be able to find out the frequency of calls for a specific language pair from the company itself, as well as information on typical clients, lengths of calls, etc.

Check the policies of the company: they might allow their interpreters not to log in at all, but rather contact them as the need arises, and then you have the right to decline to interpret if you're busy. That way, you don't need to bother with calling them at all; maybe just to let them know that you don't wish to receive calls at night time, or when you're going on a vacation for a week. However, in this case the operators will first try to reach those interpreters that are "logged in", and you'll be the last one on the list.

On the other hand, it sounds like you've lost your enthusiasm about phone interpretingicon_smile.gif. True, it doesn't pay much, and it can be tiring - you're supposed to be "up and running" the second you receive a call...


Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:56
Member (2001)
English to Russian
+ ...
not worth it Jun 2, 2004

From my personal experience - very briefly:
I was involved with two big companies (the idea was "to get more live language situations, bla-bla") - probably still registered with them...
I did not want to be disturbed at night or on weekends, so, probably because of that I was contacted several times in several months. My earnings totalled several dollars; "live language situations" ended up in talking to some Russian speaking bum - probably under influence - who was taken into police custody and one poor old Ukrainian babushka who got lost somewhere in the American 'jungle'.

Even no funicon_smile.gif)

[Edited at 2004-06-02 04:11]


Omar Osman
Local time: 13:56
English to Somali
+ ...
It is worth it Jun 2, 2004

Jesus Marin it all depends on your language pair. I work for two companies in the UK and I make over £1000 per month on telephone interpreting. I always looked at telephone interpreting as my bread and butter and translations as bonus income.
My language pairs are English/Italian (I get 5% of calls) and English/Somali (95% of calls). I need to log on and give my availability and stick to it. If I am not available I call them again and log off.
To log on I use a 0800 number or I do it over their web site. I don’t know which company you are using; maybe I can give you the email address of the one I am working with. They also give more calls to interpreters with DPSI qualifications and experience. Their computers are able to put interpreters in three levels, and the calls go to level one interpreters every time they are available and not on the phone, If they are busy it goes to level two interpreters and so on. The reason I get less calls in Italian is because we are 6 interpreters logged on at anytime. In Somali we are 3 people and the volume of the calls is higher.
I have been working in this business for 6 years now and i never had any problems. I am getting calls from the US sometimes, as they probably don't have Somali Interpreters over there. I never work at night and they never call me if I am not logged on.
They pay +/- £0.40 per minute, and there are sometime calls that last over one hour.
Most of the clients are DSS, GP Surgeries, Inland Revenue, Job Centres, London Ambulance Service, Immigration Service and Custom Service in Dover (for some Italian calls when they catch illegal immigrants on the back of Italian lorries)
I don’t trust companies that have premium numbers to log on.


Jesús Marín Mateos  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
Many thanks... Jun 2, 2004

Many thanks to all you.
The information you shared with me/us is very important.
I understand on the whole it is not worth it but cases like Omar's are to be taken into account since for example I work in the same country (ie UK) but the language pair is definitedly an advantage and English>Somali is probably more successful that English>Spanish.
Besides and to answer to some points that were made I can say that these companies I work with are very vague with the information. I have asked them how many Spanish calls they receive but their answer is 'not many', you would expect something more concrete....
Many thanks. I will probably keep on trying on this field since I find it interesting but will look into working for other agencies and forget about the ones I supposedly work for.
Many thanks.

[Edited at 2004-06-02 08:31]


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