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Translation rates
Thread poster: Moritz Schliebe

Moritz Schliebe
Thailand
Local time: 15:12
English to Thai
+ ...
Mar 30

Hi All,

This might sounds strange, but I would really like to have an insight on what everyone is charging per word.

As to myself, I translate the following language Pairs

DE-TH-ENG

As i just had a few projects over the last couple of days, my average rate was around 0.08 USD per word.

Looking forward to hear on your replies
With thanks in advance,
Moritz


 

Kalinka Hristova  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 11:12
Member (2007)
English to Bulgarian
+ ...

MODERATOR
Check the community rates Apr 2

ProZ.com provides the following tool: https://search.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates

It will give you a general idea about rates in your language pairs.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 10:12
German to Serbian
+ ...
Not reliable. Apr 2

Kalinka Hristova wrote:

ProZ.com provides the following tool: https://search.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates

It will give you a general idea about rates in your language pairs.


For instance this list says $0.12 for English into Bosnian, while my clients report that about 80% applicants in English to Bosnian charge $0.02 per word (for translation). They reported this as a response to my rate. Either the clients are not being honest or the rates from the list are completely off.


[Edited at 2018-04-02 12:19 GMT]


milena ferrante
 

Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 10:12
Member (2002)
English to Russian
ProZ community rates Apr 2

The ProZ community rates remind me an old joke about the average hospital-wide temperature reported by a medical in-patient facility, while the actual measurements ranged between 0 and 42 degrees Celsius (those in the morgue and those with a very high fever, respectively).

I worked as an in-house salaried translator in Moscow, Russia in 2006-2013. I know for a fact there was a fifteenfold difference between the lowest and highest paid staff translators in Moscow at that time.


 

Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 10:12
Member (2002)
English to Russian
One more point regarding rates charged by translators. Apr 2

As a staff translator, I sometimes acted as a screener for my former employers. Screening is part of my routine as an occasional outsourcer nowadays. Over the years, I reviewed hundreds of test pieces submitted by applicants. What I have learned from this experience is that I wouldn't pay a single cent for about 60 to 70 percent of those translations.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:12
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
There are various possible reasons for the differences Apr 2

Lingua 5B wrote:
this list says $0.12 for English into Bosnian, while my clients report that about 80% applicants in English to Bosnian charge $0.02 per word (for translation). They reported this as a response to my rate. Either the clients are not being honest or the rates from the list are completely off.

1. You need to bear in mind the sample size, which is shown on the right of the screen. It's only a couple of hundred in that pair. There's more or less bound to be statistical skew in such a small sample.
2. Relatively few profiles display rates for everyone to see. Far more profile holders hide their rates, only entering them for use in filters etc. It's possible that some are giving their wished-for rates rather than the ones they're actually getting.
3. Some, maybe most, clients are "economical with the truth" when negotiating. It simply isn't in their interests to be otherwise. If they can get you to work for less, why pay more? That's business.
4. Some clients can only pay rock-bottom rates as their business model is as a broker in a long chain. They operate on a knife-edge, with tiny margins, always a day away from bankruptcy. You associate with them at your peril. They will always find desperate professionals who feel they have little choice but to accept, and "amateur" translators for whom any income is a tax-free bonus -- those who are studying, unemployed or caring for kids/parents, plus active retirees and those who would just like a top-up to their salary. Those brokers don't have a monopoly on the translation market, fortunately. There are better agency and direct clients out there who only do business with the better translators, and who would always summarily bin a quote for $0.02 per word.

Both $0.02 and $0.12, and all the numbers in-between, are probably pretty common.


 

Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:12
Dutch to English
+ ...
pie in the sky Apr 3

The rates people claim are mostly wishful thinking, to put it politely. Anybody charging those rates will have lots of free time to come on here and complain about bottom-feeders, corrupt agencies, the end of an era, blah blah blah
You can halve most of these rates.

My NL/ENG rates are on my page and what I get, because they are realistic enough not to have to negotiate every job which I really can't be bothered with, and don't need to either.
As for PT/ENG... too much competition, only about 2% of my work is in that pair now. It probably pays half NL/ENG.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:12
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Won't say Apr 3

I'd rather not say what my rate is, other than that it is below the EU average and that I have not increased it in the past 7 years.

And still there are others in my language pair (ITA-ENG) who charge less and take work away from me. From the same agencies.

You know who you are, and you are skewing the market for everyone else.

I do get some small satisfaction from not answering your Kudoz questions.

I have enough work anyway; and I've never seen the point of charging less and working much harder, for longer hours, to earn the same amount of money you could earn by not being so cheap. I'm forever scratching my head about that.


[Edited at 2018-04-03 22:03 GMT]


 

Moritz Schliebe
Thailand
Local time: 15:12
English to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree with Tom Apr 4

Thanks for all of your answers. I agree with Tom on

"I've never seen the point of charging less and working much harder, for longer hours, to earn the same amount of money you could earn by not being so cheap."

which is why I'm trying to figure our how I should set my personal translation rates as I'm specialized in English, Thai and German. So I don't want to work underpaidicon_wink.gif

Kind regards,
Moritz


 

Alexandre_LED  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:13
Member (2013)
German to French
+ ...
Official rates and reality Apr 5

Hi,

I also agree with Tom.
When I started in translation business, I was accepting nearly all kind of rates. As a result, I got too busy and it impacted on the quality. In order to avoid this, I had to take less jobs, so I had to increase my rates as well.
This new way of dealing proved very satisfactory: now, I have got more time to do a proper job and I believe, I am seen as the first-class translator by most of my clients (otherwise they wouldn't be offering me constant work), as they know they can rely on me and the quality of my work. Besides, working that way allowed me to have a better way of life: I have more healthy hobbies and this also adds-up to the productivity and the quality. Really, I can say I am proud of my business and people call me a translator, not a "freelancer".
Today, I received an offer for 20 000 words a week at $ 0.035. I am sure everyone of us receives this kind of sloppy offers. Well, think about it: it turns out not even $700 a week and you won't have time to do anything else for that price. In my country, working as a teacher brings twice as much money for a steady 20 hours a week. So I regard these kind of offers as cheer slavery, and I really advice not to accept this kind of rates, especially if you already have some experience. The client has to understand that noone can deliver steady quality at that rate. From my experience, my advice is: Try to have a higher rate, and put the emphasis on your client's satisfaction; that's much more rewarding from the financial and the personal point of view. Anyway, serious agencies prefer having a reliable translator, than saving a few bucks. That's what experience taught me, at least!


 

Kelly Neudorfer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:13
German to English
For German to English Apr 5

Moritz Schliebe wrote:

Thanks for all of your answers. I agree with Tom on

"I've never seen the point of charging less and working much harder, for longer hours, to earn the same amount of money you could earn by not being so cheap."

which is why I'm trying to figure our how I should set my personal translation rates as I'm specialized in English, Thai and German. So I don't want to work underpaidicon_wink.gif

Kind regards,
Moritz


For German to English I would recommend *not* looking at the proz rates but instead looking at the BDÜ's Honorarspiegel. Out of curiosity I looked at proz's DE>EN rates and they are not even in the ballpark for what I charge. My rates are pretty average according to the BDÜ's Honorarspiegel, though.

I can't speak to your other pairs, and I'm not sure if the BDÜ Honorarspiegel even includes the English/Thai pair (they might only include pairs with German as one of the languages, but I've never paid attention to that), so you might have to rely on other sources for that comparison.


 

Moritz Schliebe
Thailand
Local time: 15:13
English to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Alexandre, Apr 5

Alexandre_LED wrote:

Hi,

I also agree with Tom.
When I started in translation business, I was accepting nearly all kind of rates. As a result, I got too busy and it impacted on the quality. In order to avoid this, I had to take less jobs, so I had to increase my rates as well.
This new way of dealing proved very satisfactory: now, I have got more time to do a proper job and I believe, I am seen as the first-class translator by most of my clients (otherwise they wouldn't be offering me constant work), as they know they can rely on me and the quality of my work. Besides, working that way allowed me to have a better way of life: I have more healthy hobbies and this also adds-up to the productivity and the quality. Really, I can say I am proud of my business and people call me a translator, not a "freelancer".
Today, I received an offer for 20 000 words a week at $ 0.035. I am sure everyone of us receives this kind of sloppy offers. Well, think about it: it turns out not even $700 a week and you won't have time to do anything else for that price. In my country, working as a teacher brings twice as much money for a steady 20 hours a week. So I regard these kind of offers as cheer slavery, and I really advice not to accept this kind of rates, especially if you already have some experience. The client has to understand that noone can deliver steady quality at that rate. From my experience, my advice is: Try to have a higher rate, and put the emphasis on your client's satisfaction; that's much more rewarding from the financial and the personal point of view. Anyway, serious agencies prefer having a reliable translator, than saving a few bucks. That's what experience taught me, at least!



Thank you for the reply and honest answer, it's really helpful. That means that 0.035 is a really low rate and surely i wouldn't take it too.

kind regards,
Moritz

[Edited at 2018-04-05 12:34 GMT]


 

Moritz Schliebe
Thailand
Local time: 15:13
English to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Kelly Apr 5

Kelly Neudorfer wrote:

Moritz Schliebe wrote:

Thanks for all of your answers. I agree with Tom on

"I've never seen the point of charging less and working much harder, for longer hours, to earn the same amount of money you could earn by not being so cheap."

which is why I'm trying to figure our how I should set my personal translation rates as I'm specialized in English, Thai and German. So I don't want to work underpaidicon_wink.gif

Kind regards,
Moritz


For German to English I would recommend *not* looking at the proz rates but instead looking at the BDÜ's Honorarspiegel. Out of curiosity I looked at proz's DE>EN rates and they are not even in the ballpark for what I charge. My rates are pretty average according to the BDÜ's Honorarspiegel, though.

I can't speak to your other pairs, and I'm not sure if the BDÜ Honorarspiegel even includes the English/Thai pair (they might only include pairs with German as one of the languages, but I've never paid attention to that), so you might have to rely on other sources for that comparison.


Hi Kelly,

Big thanks for the hint, i just looked at it but in the introduction of the book it didn't mention anything about German-Thai or English-Thai rates. Anyway I will keep on looking thanks againicon_wink.gif


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 10:13
German to Serbian
+ ...
Just today on ProZ. Apr 5

I received an offer to translate at €0.02 psw, when I said it's way below my minimal rate they said they were ready to sacrifice their project and raise my rate to €0.024 psw. Can somebody tell me how this reflects community rates which state $0.12 psw for my language pair? Where is the logic behind it? And this is not the first offer of this kind on ProZ?

 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 03:13
German to English
+ ...
the pie in the sky comment Apr 5

Richard Purdom wrote:

The rates people claim are mostly wishful thinking, to put it politely. Anybody charging those rates will have lots of free time to come on here and complain about bottom-feeders, corrupt agencies, the end of an era, blah blah blah
You can halve most of these rates.

This bothers me, and I've encountered it before (on LinkedIn once). It's akin to calling us dishonest. The rates discussed here went up to USD 0.12 which I think was being called unrealistic. (?) My rates are in CAD and at the current exchange rate would be 0.14 - when currency was more favourable, that was higher. What you must keep in mind is that I am a certified translator with around 30 years experience in a country where certification is important and standards are high / translation is taken seriously. If I lived in India, Mexico, or China, clients might expect to be able to pay me less for excuses of "cost of living" and such.

My fees are not "wishful thinking" - it is what I charge. Since I get clients, there is no reason to complain about bottom feeders etc., and I certainly do not see the end of an era. It does make me sad, however. When we talk of higher rates, it is to balance out a certain level of despair and hopelessness, and counter a certain passivity toward clients who "award" work (as they see it) while dictating terms and fees; especially newcomers can be trapped by that.

Do I "lose jobs" because of my policies? Certainly. But if I accept slave wages, then I will be running on a hamster wheel into exhaustion, needing to work 3 to 5 times as much to earn a living. Supposing that I work 5 days in a given week for $0.02/word. At $0.10/word I'll earn the same thing in a day. Supposing I work one day, and have no work for 4 days during that week, because nobody else would accept my fee. I've earned the same, so those 4 days off are not a calamity in that sense. I also find that if you are forever scrambling for truly low fees, with the large volume formula, the quality of your work suffers. Can you proofread your material and do the necessary research? Will you slip up because of exhaustion?

The other side of the coin is that you cannot charge professional fees for sloppy work, due to carelessness or lack of the necessary knowledge and skills. In which case a beginner with some ability may want to hire an experienced colleague to check and revise, while learning, and still charge a decent fee, because the end product will be decent.


 
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