Appropriate pay range for a French translator?
Thread poster: xxxJackPhelps
Nov 25, 2012

How much, generally speaking, should a well-educated but inexperienced French author (living in France) make as a freelance translator (English to French)? Are pay structures generally per word or per hour? I am new to this and just trying to get a ballpark understanding. Thanks!

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:47
Member (2007)
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There are figures published Nov 26, 2012

You can get an idea here on
The figures seem about right for the FIGS pairs, if not for the minor pairs. They are also published by some of the translators' associations. Have you looked at the SFT site? I believe they give an idea, too. Of course, these are the rates freelancers declare - which may not be entirely accurate.

Translating in your pair is normally quoted for on a 'per source word' rate, but there are always exceptions possible. On the other hand, proofreading, DTP etc use hourly rates more often. Then transcription, voiceovers, subtitling all have their own customs. The important thing to bear in mind is that there are only a certain number of hours in a day, so the hourly rate is the important one for your needs. Once you've decided on that, you can find out how many words you can translate in an hour and so calculate how much you need/want to charge per word.

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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:47
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
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inexperienced is the keyword here Nov 26, 2012

With lots of translators fighting over less translation jobs, the inexperienced ones are left with empty hands.

What you should make is enough to live, rent a house, go on vacation, invest in training, computers and software, to have some spare money of slow periods and for your retirement.

What you will make is "2 x rien". If you do not get high-end clients that pay on time and a decent word rate, you'll be in the bottom ranges and competing with people from cheaper areas of the world, who probably have more experience than you.


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Appropriate pay range for a French translator?

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