Requesting information on translation rates
Thread poster: John Gamble
John Gamble  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:16
Swedish to English
Feb 24, 2010

Hello,

I am trying to get established as a translator from Swedish to English, specialising in biomedical sciences and IT. Given my lack of experience in this area, I'm not sure what rate I should charge. Can anyone offer any advice please?

I've recently been offered some work (from an Indian agency) that pays 0.03 Euro per source word. This works out at about 26.34 GBP (I'm based in the UK) per 1000 source words and seems very low, so I'm reluctant to accept it. Can anyone comment on whether or not this is a fair rate? I accept that as a newcomer, I won't be able to command the highest rates, but this seems absurd.

Any advice on this would be much appreciated.

Any advice on getting started in translation in general - what qualifications or certification to aim for, software, etc, would also be very welcome.

Best wishes,

John


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Luca Ruella  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
No way. Feb 24, 2010

John Gamble wrote:

I've recently been offered some work (from an Indian agency) that pays 0.03 Euro per source word. This works out at about 26.34 GBP (I'm based in the UK) per 1000 source words and seems very low, so I'm reluctant to accept it. Can anyone comment on whether or not this is a fair rate? I accept that as a newcomer, I won't be able to command the highest rates, but this seems absurd.
John


Never accept such a low rate. You'd make more money washing cars.

Anything below 0.06 is not worth the hassle.


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Elene P.  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 21:16
Member (2007)
Georgian to English
+ ...
agree Feb 24, 2010

Luca Ruella wrote:

John Gamble wrote:

I've recently been offered some work (from an Indian agency) that pays 0.03 Euro per source word. This works out at about 26.34 GBP (I'm based in the UK) per 1000 source words and seems very low, so I'm reluctant to accept it. Can anyone comment on whether or not this is a fair rate? I accept that as a newcomer, I won't be able to command the highest rates, but this seems absurd.
John


Never accept such a low rate. You'd make more money washing cars.

Anything below 0.06 is not worth the hassle.



I absolutely agree!!!! Though the price might vary a bit depending on the volume, language pair, urgency, and country of the agency, but still there are some lower limits, and they should not drop below 0.05 euro at least..

[Edited at 2010-02-24 12:13 GMT]


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Frances Leggett  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:16
Italian to English
+ ...
My opinion about rates Feb 24, 2010

Even though you are a newcomer, you already have your specialist areas and no doubt know that terminology very well. Translation rates also depend on the country and language you are working with so you also need to take that into account and allow for a margin of variation if you choose to work with countries you know generally pay less, but with your language pair I think you could probably get some clients based in Europe where the rates will be higher and this would be best given that you are based in London!

I agree that €0.05 should be the lowest limit unless you really need the work and are in an "anything is better than nothing" phase. Anywhere between €0.07 (agency rate) and €0.10-€0.12 (direct client rates) are generally good rates to work towards in the near future (even now) and depending on your areas of specialisation, the time it takes you to research your document, etc, these rates could increase.

I think it's important to point out as well that agencies generally pay the translator less than a direct client would pay you. Agencies usually command a rate with their clients that includes a small (but unfortunately sometimes large) profit margin for them, costs that cover editing and/or proofreading and the translation, at least that's what they are supposed to do! If you work for direct clients, your rate will be higher but you will probably need to take into account that you may need to find someone to proofread your work before delivery and your final rate to the client should include that.

Please note that this is just my opinion and more experienced translators may have a different take on the situation. The rates I have quoted generally refer to my language combination (Italian to English).

Hope that helps!


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Marcia Liddle BA(Hons), MA, ACIL
Local time: 17:16
French to English
+ ...
Yes 0.03 is absurd! Feb 24, 2010

Hi John,

Welcome! I agree with Luca that 0.06 Euro should be the absolute minimum anyone should accept. You wouldn't be able to live on 0.03 Euro per word, why throw your education and experience down the drain to earn peanuts. At 2000 words a day you'd be earning close to the UK minimum wage!

In general try to avoid any agency who says "we pay our translators x amount" rather than asking you what you charge. There are many awful agencies out there and accepting work from them would be a receipt for misery, but there are also a lot of good agencies out there. I've always aimed to build a client base of people I like working with and send me work that I feel happy with at the end of the day because I have had the time to do it properly and have been fairly paid for it - and this inevitably means turning down some work.

If I were you I wouldn't be charging any less than about 0.09 - 0.10 Euro given your language pair and level of expert knowledge, but bear in mind that I don't work in you language pair so this is just a guess, it would be better for you to hear from someone who does work in your language pair.

You don't have any qualifications in languages or translation so I think perhaps you should look into the IOL's Diploma in Translation and the preparatory courses on offer. I haven’t taken it myself, I chose to do a Masters in Translation instead, but from looking at the past papers it seems like a worthwhile qualification and a good test of translation skills.

Best of luck with everything, and remember that you are an expert in your field and that people should be willing to pay a high price for this.

Marcia


[Edited at 2010-02-24 12:22 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Your rates are low enough Feb 24, 2010

John Gamble wrote:
I won't be able to command the highest rates, but this seems absurd.


As others have said, that is an absurd rate for a translator living in the UK, although maybe it's OK in India. The rates in your profile are already low - I'd stick to your guns if I were you.

what qualifications or certification to aim for, software, etc


You have a lot of experience in your fields and that certainly gives you a good start, but you ought to get at least a basic certificate in translation studies. I did one by distance learning - very basic compared to many others but it gave me an idea of the basic do's and dont's and methodology.

You also ought to download a free CAT tool - Wordfast has a free version that I can highly recommend, but there are others. Even if you don't yourself want to buy and use a CAT, it's as well to be able to justify that decision and know a bit about what others are talking about. Agencies, for example, often insist on Trados but can sometimes be talked out of this requirement if you can give them confidence in the end result without it.


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SusieZ
United States
Local time: 12:16
German to English
Appalling!! Feb 24, 2010

Hello??? 0.03 a word is a joke, we all agree - but the minimum rates suggested in this thread by translators are simply appalling!!!! Where is our sense of self-respect?

BTW - Translatorscafe.com has a suggested rate list by language combination and country. I wonder why Proz doesn't have one? I hope this post won't be deleted for mentioning it...


[Edited at 2010-02-24 13:10 GMT]


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Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
Different combinations - different rates Feb 24, 2010

In my combination (English into Spanish) I wouldn't accept anything below 0.10 €/word***.

I believe your combination pays higher rates...


*** minimum rate I would accept on a general text from an agency. (just in case)

[Edited at 2010-02-24 15:09 GMT]


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Frances Leggett  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:16
Italian to English
+ ...
in my experience... Feb 24, 2010

SusieZ wrote:

Hello??? 0.03 a word is a joke, we all agree - but the minimum rates suggested in this thread by translators are simply appalling!!!! Where is our sense of self-respect?



[Edited at 2010-02-24 13:10 GMT]


I am yet to find an Italian agency that pays their translator €0.10 per word. I repeat, in my experience. I think the lowest rate people have been referring to may mostly refer to agency work and probably based on their own experiences. Although comments like yours make me think there's still hope that there may even be Italian agencies out there that pay more... I'll keep looking!


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John Gamble  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:16
Swedish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for advice Feb 24, 2010

Hello,

I'd like to thank everyone who responded to my request, earlier today, for information on translation rates and who offered advice on starting up in translation. The advice given by everyone was very useful and much appreciated. The replies have confirmed my suspicion that the job I was offered was paying way below the going rate, and I'll now be able to turn it down with a bit more confidence that it's the right thing to do.

The information about getting a qualification in translation studies was also very interesting, and I'll look into this further.

Sheila: you mentioned that you had done a distance learning course in translation studies. Could you let me know where you found that please?

Thanks again, and best wishes to all,

John


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:16
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Biomedical sciences Swedish to English Feb 24, 2010

John Gamble wrote:

I've recently been offered some work (from an Indian agency) that pays 0.03 Euro per source word.


You should be able to charge at least 4 times this rate.


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Ronald van der Linden
Mexico
Local time: 11:16
Dutch to English
+ ...
Many factors Feb 24, 2010

Rate depends on your living standard, translation production, level of experience, etc.
Can you deliver a 10,000 word translation in one week, or will it take you more or less time?
What is your life style, do you have a pension fund, don't forget wage taxes and VAT if applicable.

If your production is 2,000 words a day, then with EUR 0.10 and let's say you are 75% efficient during a month that normally has 22 labour days, that would make EUR 3,300. A more acceptable pay in Europe. I'd say. But, then there are taxes to be paid, social security, pension plans, vacation reservation, etc. Then maybe we're looking at net EUR 2,000-2,500 monthly depending on your situation. Now, I'd consider this a reasonable-good aim for starters.

With your niche experience, and location, I'd recommend EUR 0.10 or EUR 0.09 as your absolute minimum, but try out EUR 0.13 and see what happens.

Good luck.

Best,
Ronald

PS I wouldn't so much recommend a translation certificate, although a professional certificate may "definately" come in handy in your specific translation topic, but at least I'd recommend a grammar/writing course to update your language skills.

PS2 And I was kindly reminded that it is "definitely". Exactly my point: a grammar/spelling course wouldn't hurt anybody from time to time

[Edited at 2010-02-24 16:23 GMT]


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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:16
Member
French to English
+ ...
Statistics Feb 24, 2010

John, your language pair and specialty fields mean that you should be able to command decent rates if you are a competent and qualified translator. (NB. If you're not, you shouldn't be working in the business at all.) But before you get started, you may want to spend a bit of time exploring the market, getting some training and figuring out how you plan to position yourself.

As the first comments in this thread have shown, there are many niches in the translation market and you are going to need to establish yours.

In our business, some people are willing to get out of bed for 0.03 EUR per word; others won't open an eye for less than 0.20 EUR. You have to decide where you want to be and market yourself accordingly.

The French translators' association (SFT) publishes a yearly survey which is useful as an indicator of professional market rates. Swedish to English does not appear, but Swedish to French does: the average rate is 0.17 EUR (prices ranged from 0.13 - 0.21 EUR). English to Swedish does, too: average rate 0.20 EUR (min. 0.12, max. 0.26 EUR).

You can check out all of the details here: http://www.sft.fr/clients/sft/telechargements/file_front/491bbacf78221.pdf (the Swedish-French rates are at the bottom of page 12; English to Swedish on page 11).

If you are confident in your services, don't let anyone step on your toes. There are many markets out there - you just need to focus on the one you want to target.

Good luck,
Jocelyne


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Vincenzo Di Maso  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:16
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
your language pair means high rates Feb 24, 2010

hello,
of course that offer is not acceptable at all. I agree with Luca. 0.05 would be a minimum limit for a translator with few experience in eng-ita.
I think your minimum rate should be 0.08, given your language pair.
I don't know your experience in the translation field. I am assuming you are new in the field. Correct me if I am wrong.
As colleagues said, your language paid implies much higher rates. A more experienced transaltor couldn't ask less than 0.11 for that pair.
I always turned down offers for Arabic-Italian that did not exceed 0.11 Euros. Chinese and Indian clients use to offer such low rates. I simply decline their offer.
No, grazie


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Monika Elisabeth Sieger  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:16
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
ITI survey on rates Feb 24, 2010

Hi!
How about checking the website of the ITI? They have published a survey on the rates for most language combinations!
Although I am not translating in your langauge combination the rate offered is ridiculous.
By the way: if you got this last week, I got the same offer as well. For the same rate as a specialised translator.


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