Suggested rate for unqualified translator
Thread poster: guyd

Italian to English
Feb 10, 2018


I have no qualifications in translation. I'm native English, university educated, write well and speak good Italian. What should I charge for Italian to English translation? A friend has asked me to do some work for him; I don't want to rip him off but want to receive fair compensation for the hours involved.


Jorge Payan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:12
Member (2002)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Rates suggested for a good translator Feb 10, 2018

Please take a careful look to them. I don't want you or any aspiring translator undermining the market just because he/she did not attend translation courses. If you are quite good at your area of specialization, that will suffice for your customers; they are the ones who will decide.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 02:12
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Rates Feb 10, 2018

If I were in your shoes I would charge exactly the same as a qualified translator (with a small discount considering that the client is a friend) and I would pay someone to review my translation work…

P.S. For the average rates IT-EN look here:


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:12
French to English
I concur Feb 10, 2018

I agree wholeheartedly with Jorge and Teresa.

Many excellent translators have no formal translation qualifications, just as a significant number have no formal language qualifications either. Being able to translate well involves such a wide range of different skills. Specific knowledge of a particular field will increase your chances of understanding source text's terminology and phrasing; it is also likely to increase the chance that your translation will have an authentic ring to it.

You are likely to be slower than a professional experienced translator, but the end result may be well up to scratch. The extra time you are likely to take will make your hourly rate lower, but that's penalization enough. Start with a usual standard rate and perhaps apply a slight reduction for the friend.

Do bear in mind that whatever rates you find cited formally here and there no doubt allow for the fact that professional translators are paying contributions and taxes out of that amount that may take care of anything from 30%-50% of what the client actually pays them. Therefore, although you might be slower, I suppose that this is not being declared formally and in real terms you may actually be getting a pretty good deal out of the job.icon_wink.gif


Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:12
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
I agree with my colleagues Feb 10, 2018

Do a bit of research, find out average rates for your language pair. Once you have done it, calculate a discount (I would not offer more than 10-15%) and do not forget to mention it to your friend. Most likely, the bargain is the only reason they have not contacted a professional translator:).


The Misha
Local time: 22:12
Russian to English
+ ...
A translator "qualification" does not a translator make Feb 10, 2018

If, as you say, you write well in English, know the subject matter well and are comfortable with your source language, both spoken and written, you are qualified. Do not sell yourself short.

In my book, "Master in Translation" is the second most useless degree possible (the first being the MFA - Master of Fine Arts that aspiring writers often go for in the US instead of, well, writing). In fact, I don't think there even is such a thing in the US, or at least there hasn't been until recently, and for a good reason.

What I think you really need to think twice about is working for this friend of yours. Remember the old joke about why your should never lend money to friends? You'll lose the money, and you'll lose the friend too.

[Edited at 2018-02-10 20:16 GMT]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:12
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It depends on what kind of relationship you have Feb 11, 2018

In principle at least, every translation is tailored to a specific situation. Either it is fit for its purpose, or it is useless, and its value to the customer is therefore the same, no matter who did the translation.

Beginners, with or without specific qualifications in languages, can produce excellent results, as long as they have a good command of both languages and the subject matter. Including its special terminology or whatever.

A knowledge of theory and a diploma or degree are no hindrance, but it is practice that makes a good writer and a good translator. Until a couple of generations ago, there was practically no formal training for translators anyway.

If you are comfortable with doing a professional job at a professional rate for a friend, and your friend is really able and willing to pay it, then go for it. You may both be surprised at how much time it takes, and therefore how much it costs altogether. Make sure you know what you are in for... But apart from that, good luck!

[Edited at 2018-02-12 14:37 GMT]


Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:12
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
unqualified?? Feb 12, 2018

I can't help but point out that "an unqualified translator" in AE means that the person has no skills whatsoever as a translator. In some other European languages, the cognate phrase means "lacking in credentials," so I guess that's what it means in BE. Quite a different meaning.


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Suggested rate for unqualified translator

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