Increasing interpreting rate for direct client - how much is ok?
Thread poster: Eszter Bokor

Eszter Bokor
Austria
Local time: 19:12
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
Dec 1, 2009

I have a long-time client in Germany, we are on very good professional terms. I enjoy working for them a lot and they appreciate my work very much. It is a huge global company producing mechanical components for the car industry. I am working there as a freelance interpreter, doing 8 hours of chouchotage per day on my own for one employee from the USA. It is all GERENG in Germany on highly technical topics. Would be nice to have a comparison.

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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:12
German to English
+ ...
Prices are negotiable... Dec 1, 2009

I no longer do much interpreting but when I did, I generally asked for the rate paid by courts for similar jobs. In Germany, the hourly rate offered by courts for interpreters is 55 Euro per hour (see section 9 subsection 3 of the German statute here: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/jveg/__9.html ). That could be a useful comparison (and aid negotiations).

Good luck!



[Edited at 2009-12-01 14:39 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 18:12
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I am a translator... Dec 1, 2009

not an interpreter. But as a matter of curiosity, is this your only direct client? How many hours do you work for them? Every month? Regularly? All these factors are important...

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:12
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
JVEG is the floor Dec 1, 2009

The court rate Derek quoted should be the absolute bottom rate for something like that I think. I am a translator, and I interpret for negotiations or other occasions only when very specific subject expertise is required and I don't have to be bothered much by travel, so you may want to take my advice with a grain of salt. However, consider that most interpreters might not be able to handle the subject matter and that for many translation assignments, the hourly earnings (calculated taking the number of lines produced on average in an hour) will be well above the JVEG interpreting rate.

Of course there are interpreters plagued by a perpetual sense of inferiority (usually women) who will accept 15 euros per hour for such work while working for an agency that bills four times that amount. (I'm thinking of a real case here.) They are afraid of appearing brash for asking a usual market rate for good service and will undersell themselves all their lives until they drop dead in frustration or someone else takes over negotiations for them. As far as these people learning to fend for themselves and ask what their work is worth in a manner confident enough to get the desired rate... I'm not idealistic enough to believe in that any more.


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:12
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Increasing? Dec 1, 2009

From which level?

We normally charge per day not per hour. Court is an exeption. The rates vary from 500 to 800 EUR per day. But I am talking about really professional conference interpreting.
Someone working for 15 EUR an hour is not professional. These are two kinds of services we can not compare one with another.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:12
Flemish to English
+ ...
EMCI Dec 1, 2009

A person, who obtained a European Masters in Conference Interpreting (i.e .not a self-anointed overnight interpreter, but somebody who passed admission test, got trained up to EU-standards and passed the final exams) degree (boot-camp for interpreting) does not ask 15 euros per hour, but the rates mentioned above depending on language combinations.


[Edited at 2009-12-01 18:49 GMT]


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:12
German to English
+ ...
Good to know! Dec 1, 2009

erika rubinstein wrote:

From which level?

We normally charge per day not per hour. Court is an exeption. The rates vary from 500 to 800 EUR per day. But I am talking about really professional conference interpreting.
Someone working for 15 EUR an hour is not professional. These are two kinds of services we can not compare one with another.


So, judging by your calculation, you and Kevin obviously agree, because a standard 8-hour day á 55 Euro per hour would bring 440 Euro (courts are notoriously stingy), i.e., close to the 500 Euro per day you quoted, rates that both of you said should represent the bottom of the range.

You also both agree (as do I) that a rate of 15 Euro an hour is obviously too low for the type of interpreting the Eszter was asking about, i.e., specialized interpretation.

Good to know, should I ever decide to get back into it.


[Edited at 2009-12-01 18:36 GMT]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 19:12
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Professionals Dec 1, 2009

erika rubinstein wrote:

Someone working for 15 EUR an hour is not professional. These are two kinds of services we can not compare one with another.

I have to take exception to that statement. Some of my colleagues at the EU aren't better interpreters than some of the people I know who are willing to work for peanuts due to a combination of sheepish "negotiation tactics", lack of confidence and the awful Hungarian market.
Sometimes those who sing their own praise the loudest as "professionals" and are reasonably successful deliver the worst performance.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:12
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
On the contrary, Erika Dec 2, 2009

The interpreter I mentioned is highly qualified German native with a language degree, a nearly perfect command of English - heartbreakingly good, really - and much better French. She's a court sworn translator and interpreter, one of the finest project managers I've ever worked with and professional in every way. The 15 euros an hour wasn't even the worst part of that scenario by far. And I have met others of similar caliber who are simply unable to ask what they are worth. I would venture to say that what she delivers at 15 euros per hour is probably better than what many will deliver at the top rate.

If I cannot call that person a professional then I have to deny that label to myself and a number of other colleagues whom I hold in high esteem. People like that lack other things, mostly self-confidence, though really they have more reason to be confident than many others. It's a very regrettable thing but not something I would ridicule. There are other, better ways of approaching the problem.

@Derek: I was told that the rate in the law that was replaced by JVEG was higher and that JVEG represented a general reduction of rates for both translation and interpreting. There is also the ongoing problem that many police agencies and others refuse to follow the JVEG guidelines and often try to squeeze service providers to a fraction I prefer not to mention. If you're in the BDÜ, have a look in the forum for sworn interpreters and translators on mein.bdue.de and you'll find some interesting discussion on the subject. As you said, the courts are rather stingy, so I find the JVEG guidelines to be a useful litmus test for evaluating and classifying a prospective client. They are also a very useful psychological tool in negotiations - if you carefully analyze a project and point out the various premiums that would apply according to those guidelines, then quote a "friendlier" rate, sometimes you can almost hear an audible sigh of relief as a prospect accepts a rate that would never have been considered at the start of a discussion. If that conversation takes place with an agency PM, you also give that person the information s/he needs to negotiate more effectively with the end customer. I find that by working with the agencies and helping some of them frame their sales arguments more effectively one can often get a better rate because the agency gets a better rate and we can all afford to give better service.


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Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
Negociations Dec 2, 2009

It is a bit difficult to give you any advice without knowing how much you charge at the moment, but I don't think it is a matter of percentage.

Just ask what your work is worth, even if that is 150% more than what you are getting now.
After all, the client himself has talked about a raise.

It is always better to ask for more than you think you can get, as it leaves room for negociation...especially since you know they are satisfied with your work. And if they accept your first offer, it's all good for you.

I wonder why many interpreting schools do not provide their students with more information about rates and the market in general...


[Modifié le 2009-12-02 04:58 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:12
French to German
+ ...
OT: Scheinselbststädigkeit? Dec 2, 2009

This is a bit of OT, but due to the volume of hours you do for this client, I wonder whether this could be seen as Scheinselbstständigkeit ("pretence freelancing" - sorry, lacking a better translation here) if this concept exists in Austria.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:12
Flemish to English
+ ...
Ivory tower vs.real world. Dec 2, 2009

Geraldine Oudin wrote:

I wonder why many interpreting schools do not provide their students with more information about rates and the market in general...


[Modifié le 2009-12-02 04:58 GMT]


It depends. Some are ivory towers with professional "teachers of interpreting", who are not interpreters themselves. At others, the professors are freelance interpreters, some members of AIIC, who assure themselves of a fixed wage on top of their interpreting income.

Interpreting requires another set of skills than translating or project-management.

If they offered higher rates ask the "normal rate" of 500 euros per day + travel costs.


[Edited at 2009-12-02 08:03 GMT]


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:12
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
I can not agree Dec 2, 2009

[And I have met others of similar caliber who are simply unable to ask what they are worth. I would venture to say that what she delivers at 15 euros per hour is probably better than what many will deliver at the top rate.
]Kevin Lossner wrote:


It is amost impossible that someone working at the highest level, delivers bad performance. Some of us are better, some worse, but in general this is a big difference in perfomance between "so called interpreters" (möchte-gerne-Dolmetscher) and conference interpreters (it doesnt mean, they work only at conferences). And sorry but I dont believe, that working for 15 EUR an hour is only a question of self-confidence or its lack.

It means, you have low level clients which also means that you dont go forward.
If I work for the government and tell them, I charge 15 EUR per hour, they will not take me, because they will doubt in the quality of my interpreting. The same with big global companies. And if you are good, you have such clients. Good is also not a question of diplomas or only language knowledge.
One can start at 15 EUR per hour, but if the person is worth that, it will get significantly more in a short period of time.

As Stanislawski said: I dont believe.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:12
Flemish to English
+ ...
To be or not to be... Dec 2, 2009

Is to be or not to be "Good" a question of top language skills in several languages, knowing the equivalents in your B or C-languages (proverbs and cultural registers included) in the blink of an eye , being able to follow and interpret any speaker (also a "Hochgeschwindigkeitszugsprecher") rattling on about "the economic consequences of of the ascession of Turkey to the EU" for example, having an excellent memory and be a kind of actor?

[Edited at 2009-12-02 17:44 GMT]


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