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Transcription rates
Thread poster: Phoenix III

Phoenix III  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:58
Member (2013)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 27, 2013

Hi everybody,

I need help replying to a quote request. Although I do have experience transcribing I used to charge an hourly (extremely modest fee, I'm told) rate. This company is asking me a per minute rate and my transcription percentage precision. I'm afraid I'm lost. Nobody ever asked me that. I received the tapes, I listened, I typed and I sent back the work. Can someone help me, please? The last thing I want to do is give away my work and help ruin the market for everybody. Thanks.


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dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:58
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Huge range, do your own calculation Dec 27, 2013

If you look up transcription services, you will find everything from $1 to $10/audio minute (great help, I know).
It will be slightly higher for very technical subjects and pretty much any language other than English. A lot of people in Asian and other countries with generally low rates of pay speak English and this type of work is often outsourced in that direction.

Work out your average speed and how much you want to earn and calculate your own rate.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:58
Russian to English
+ ...
$7-$10 per audio minute. Dec 27, 2013

In my experience these are the average rates now. It takes sometimes the whole day to do a 90 minute recording.

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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:58
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
You can also have a range of your rates Dec 27, 2013

Just as an example: if your standard rate for a simple subject audio/video with high-quality sound is 5.50 USD/minute, you might charge 8 or 10 USD for poor quality sound (wind, drilling or other noises that make some words or entire sentences inaudible). A bad audio will also take longer to process, so request a sample (or the entire file) first and then offer your quote (your per minute rate or the total amount and the deadline).

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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:58
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
Everyone has their own speed... Dec 27, 2013

...depending on the file quality and experience.
LilianBNekipelo wrote:
It takes sometimes the whole day to do a 90 minute recording.

Well, I usually cover about 40-50 minutes per day and therefore don't accept urgent assignments. People are different.


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Luximar Arenas Petty  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Being realistic Dec 28, 2013

Well, I don't really know which companies pay rates like $7 - $10 per audio minute nowadays. I do some regular transcriptions that sometimes involve translations. I have been working for an agency for three years now that always requests different types of transcription jobs. I have to say that their rates were fair enough, but lately they have approached me offering rates as low as $1.38 per audio minute and asked for less than a day turnaround, time coding, and made some requests on weekends. Needless to say, it is not worth it. This is a US-based company and not a developing-country company, just to make things clear.

I don't think the market has changed dramatically. I think that many linguistic professionals have been accepting these kinds of jobs without even knowing how much work is involved in a transcription job. Another factor is that some agencies--I think this one falls into this category--hire new project managers with no experience or knowledge about the kind of projects they handle, and of course they want to make a profit for the company they work with and at the same time get a bonus for it.

Your question has been raised from time to time here in the forum, so you can find other threads. I suggest this one: http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/67470-general_audio_transcription_translation_rates.html

It is not the most recent, but it has some good points that can give you an idea about transcription jobs in general. It has also been updated with some good comments from people who have gained experience in the transcription field.

I hope you find this helpful.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:58
Russian to English
+ ...
Recordings take a long time Dec 28, 2013

Natalia Mackevich wrote:

...depending on the file quality and experience.
LilianBNekipelo wrote:
It takes sometimes the whole day to do a 90 minute recording.

Well, I usually cover about 40-50 minutes per day and therefore don't accept urgent assignments. People are different.


Yes -- one tape definitely takes the whole day, for some reason. The most I did was probably 90 minutes in 8 hours, but the quality of the sound must have been good. I was referring to transcription for translation purposes -- often a few different languages mixed, or some Spaglish or Ranglish at least. The secretarial transcriptions of high quality English tapes may be paid at a lower rate, but not $2/min. I know that for sure. They have been talking advantage of you, Luximar. It is more like $4.5-$5.5.

[Edited at 2013-12-28 14:08 GMT]


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Luximar Arenas Petty  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Another story Dec 28, 2013

Transcription for translation purposes is another story. The best way I have found is to charge a rate per minute for transcription and a rate per word for translation. I do my best not to sell my services for low rates. I have to pay bills like any other person. It is a reality that many agencies offer translation jobs as transcriptions trying to get better prices for it. I have read this forum daily since I became a member and I have learned a lot. There are so many abuses in this industry. Sometimes individual linguists commit abuses as well, like trying to charge $120 for a birth certificate, like another thread talked of recently.

Perhaps I have been abused like many other linguists, but not anymore.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:58
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Abusive? Dec 28, 2013

Luximar Arenas Petty wrote:
There are so many abuses in this industry. Sometimes individual linguists commit abuses as well, like trying to charge $120 for a birth certificate, like another thread talked of recently.


If an agency offered you $120 for a birth certificate, would you decline on the grounds that it is "abusive", or be glad that somebody was finally paying what a professionals service was worth?

I don't charge that much, but a drafting a birth certificate, making a trip to the notary, and a trip to the post office can easily take an hour and half or longer. And that's without considering the fact that private individuals can often be very high-maintenance customers for certified translations, requiring extensive and lengthy communications to even figure out what they want or need. By contrast, my communications with the PMs who regularly send personal documents are usually handled in about 30 seconds.

120 isn't even close to being abusive (if that's even a meaningful term) for a certified and notarized translation.


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Luximar Arenas Petty  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
@Rudolf Dec 28, 2013

I do not offer this kind of translation service, simply because there is more than translation involved in this kind of request. It is certain that some linguists have more facility than others for offering this service. If someone needs to travel far to get this job done to the point that it is necessary to add a mile rate to the total price, but he/she knows someone who is closer to the notary and can offer a certified translation, it would be better to be honest with the client and refer a colleague instead of jumping up and down because he/she has gotten a good deal.

If your client is willing to pay that much because he wants to stick with you, that’s his decision. Or if you want to quote that much to avoid getting the job, that’s okay too. The thing here is to keep the whole industry’s rates as fair as possible, because it has been said constantly “Don’t damage the industry by accepting lower rates”, but if we can reach a deal with a higher rate, we just keep silent because we are taking advantage of the situation. Is that not causing the same damage in the long term?


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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:58
English to Spanish
"Abusive" does not even apply Dec 28, 2013

Luximar Arenas Petty wrote:

The thing here is to keep the whole industry’s rates as fair as possible, because it has been said constantly “Don’t damage the industry by accepting lower rates”, but if we can reach a deal with a higher rate, we just keep silent because we are taking advantage of the situation. Is that not causing the same damage in the long term?


Keep rates as fair as possible? We are taking advantage of the situation?

Why is it so wrong trying to live and be treated at the same level as other professionals? Why do you think you are inferior to other professionals?

Like Rudolf said, the term "abusive" does not even apply.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:58
Russian to English
+ ...
No agency would offer anyone $120 for a birth certificate Dec 28, 2013

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:

Luximar Arenas Petty wrote:
There are so many abuses in this industry. Sometimes individual linguists commit abuses as well, like trying to charge $120 for a birth certificate, like another thread talked of recently.


If an agency offered you $120 for a birth certificate, would you decline on the grounds that it is "abusive", or be glad that somebody was finally paying what a professionals service was worth?

I don't charge that much, but a drafting a birth certificate, making a trip to the notary, and a trip to the post office can easily take an hour and half or longer. And that's without considering the fact that private individuals can often be very high-maintenance customers for certified translations, requiring extensive and lengthy communications to even figure out what they want or need. By contrast, my communications with the PMs who regularly send personal documents are usually handled in about 30 seconds.

120 isn't even close to being abusive (if that's even a meaningful term) for a certified and notarized translation.


perhaps written in an almost extinct langauge, or 500 years ago, and partially illegible. Some translators charge over $100 for birth certificates from direct client. In my experience an average fee is about $50-80 with the certification (not with an apostille, though)


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Luximar Arenas Petty  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
? Dec 28, 2013

Miguel Carmona wrote:


Why is it so wrong trying to live and be treated at the same level as other professionals? Why do you think you are inferior to other professionals?



Well, I don’t think I’m less than anyone else, but it is never right to take advantage of anyone. My concern is to make a living and do it fairly. If $120 doesn't seem much to someone out there, that’s fine. It seemed to be a lot more than I've seen charged for a job like that. No offense.


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Phoenix III  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:58
Member (2013)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Dec 29, 2013

LilianBNekipelo wrote:

In my experience these are the average rates now. It takes sometimes the whole day to do a 90 minute recording.


I'm beginning to see the light. :0)


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Phoenix III  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:58
Member (2013)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great idea! Dec 29, 2013

Natalia Mackevich wrote:

Just as an example: if your standard rate for a simple subject audio/video with high-quality sound is 5.50 USD/minute, you might charge 8 or 10 USD for poor quality sound (wind, drilling or other noises that make some words or entire sentences inaudible). A bad audio will also take longer to process, so request a sample (or the entire file) first and then offer your quote (your per minute rate or the total amount and the deadline).


I will work on this. Excellent! I hope it's not too late to reply... Thanks!


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