# You don't know which hourly rate to charge for your services?

You don't know which hourly rate to charge for your services?
Thread poster: Tanja Tilch

Tanja Tilch
Local time: 06:14
English to German
+ ...
 Jan 23, 2020

There's a very easy way to determine it:

Look around you and make a not of what YOU pay for services you buy - hairdresser, auto repair shop, plumber, legal consultation, etc.
If they charge you around \$80 per hour, you should, too, otherwise you'll end up working 2 or even 3 hours to pay 1 hour of their service bill.

Need to convert the price into words? Then count how many words you can manage to translate per hour. Take your hourly rate, divide it by the number
... See more
There's a very easy way to determine it:

Look around you and make a not of what YOU pay for services you buy - hairdresser, auto repair shop, plumber, legal consultation, etc.
If they charge you around \$80 per hour, you should, too, otherwise you'll end up working 2 or even 3 hours to pay 1 hour of their service bill.

Need to convert the price into words? Then count how many words you can manage to translate per hour. Take your hourly rate, divide it by the number of words (e.g. 300) and you'll get your per word rate.

Remember: The \$80 is not your net income - you'll have to pay income tax, VAT, health/pension insurance etc. as well, so you might end up with a net income of \$20-30 only.

Best,

Tanja
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Thayenga
Germany
Local time: 06:14
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
 In a perfect world Jan 23, 2020

Yes, this is a realistic figure. However, in the real world where many customers try everything to pay as little as possible (while charging their customers as much as they will accept), this calculation won't materialize.

There are customers who realize that translators are a business, having to make a living, and who pay acceptable rates. But their number seems to be diminishing... unfortunately.

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Laurent Mercky
France
Local time: 06:14
Member (2019)
Chinese to French
+ ...
 unrealistic but would be nice Jan 23, 2020

Hi

Already discussed many times lately.
80 US\$ for one hour of written translation would be very nice indeed.
But you know it's impossible for most of translators.

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Vladimir Pochinov
Russian Federation
Local time: 07:14
Member
English to Russian
 Taking the lead from other professionals ... this may or may not work Jan 23, 2020

Tanja,

In 2008-2013 I was with a major international law firm. The firm's clients paid anywhere between \$250 and \$800 per hour for legal work. Are you suggesting I should have charged as much?

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Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 22:14
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
 Making comparisons Jan 23, 2020

I would like to compare my rates to those of professional football or basketball players or movie stars!

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DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
 Value =/= Price Jan 23, 2020

Unlike modern translators, a lawyer offers a unique turnkey solution--no sheer wordcount or discount price. Why, occasionally I also work as an interpreter at our business meetings and conferences for \$750+ an hour.

Isn't it obvious that becoming (1) an decent specialist [lawyer/designer/sportsman/...] who (2) knows how to run biz in (3) foreign language too could do the 'some \$100 per hour' trick? Self-presentation, planning, and negotiating is
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Unlike modern translators, a lawyer offers a unique turnkey solution--no sheer wordcount or discount price. Why, occasionally I also work as an interpreter at our business meetings and conferences for \$750+ an hour.

Isn't it obvious that becoming (1) an decent specialist [lawyer/designer/sportsman/...] who (2) knows how to run biz in (3) foreign language too could do the 'some \$100 per hour' trick? Self-presentation, planning, and negotiating is the key.

Unfortunately, newbies and needies often take somebody's words for it, naively accepting imposed 'ever-novice' rates for "pure" translators--with freebies and "discounts"--after 60+ days. Why waiting for the sun to shine when numbers speak of themselves?

However, I was pleasantly surprised when a recent MA rejected a rush project for she realized that some \$200 was just not worth it, considering average rates, salaries, and bills. Guess what? After her argumentation, they offered her \$500.

So far: if you still can't explain it why exactly \$XXX, not \$QQQ or \$ZZZ, then you are no equal business party, alas.

[Edited at 2020-01-23 22:26 GMT]
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Vladimir Pochinov
Russian Federation
Local time: 07:14
Member
English to Russian
 @DZiW: You are not a translator... you interpret occasionally... Jan 24, 2020

DZiW wrote:

... Why, occasionally I also work as an interpreter at our business meetings and conferences for \$750+ an hour.

Who picks up the tab? And what are you, by the way? Я не узнаю вас в гриме... ©1973 "Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future" https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070233/?ref_=tt_urv

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DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
 IN-congruity peek-a-boo: no secret mystery Jan 24, 2020

Vladimir, thank you for perking up, yet if you feel somehow offended and you're trying to trap me into lying to you, you will surely be sorely disappointed for there're no contradictions or discrepancies.

Let's paint a picture:

1) I'm neither a "pure" translator nor just an interpreter;
+
2) I recommend diversifying into (not so) related activities; and
+
3) I promote becoming an in-demand specialists who knows how to run the business--in for
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Vladimir, thank you for perking up, yet if you feel somehow offended and you're trying to trap me into lying to you, you will surely be sorely disappointed for there're no contradictions or discrepancies.

Let's paint a picture:

1) I'm neither a "pure" translator nor just an interpreter;
+
2) I recommend diversifying into (not so) related activities; and
+
3) I promote becoming an in-demand specialists who knows how to run the business--in foreign languages too.

So, I'm a specialist who takes an active part in making decisions as an equal party, running biz in foreign languages (communicating with biz partners). Even simpler: mere translation/interpretation is my minor--less than 5%-10% of my work.
Doesn't it make sense? That's ok.

I would be glad if you really have something to specify or contradict ontopic, though.

P.S. nice catch, but 'Back to the future' sounds too American IMO
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Tanja Tilch
Local time: 06:14
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
 Thank you for your replies Feb 5, 2020

You wanted to know why I am asking that question (again)? Here's the answer: Because no one takes the time to stop and THINK about what they are doing every day... and why they are still earning so little money.

The question is what YOU want to be and for which PRICE you are willing to work for in how many HOURS a day.
Why have you become a translator? Do you translate just for the FUN of it or do your acutally want to earn enough money with it to make a decent living?
... See more
You wanted to know why I am asking that question (again)? Here's the answer: Because no one takes the time to stop and THINK about what they are doing every day... and why they are still earning so little money.

The question is what YOU want to be and for which PRICE you are willing to work for in how many HOURS a day.
Why have you become a translator? Do you translate just for the FUN of it or do your acutally want to earn enough money with it to make a decent living?

If you NEED to earn say 300\$ a day to make a decent living which is comparable to that of other professions, you have two CHOICES:

You either charge \$25 per hour (or if you still calculate in words: translate 500 words/hour at 5 cents/word) and work 12 hours per day (to achieve your \$300)
OR
you charge \$75 per hour / \$0.15/word (as any other company in any other industry would do, look around you!) and work only 4 hours per day for the same \$300, have 8 hours at hand to deliver a better/higher quality or actually make \$600 per day in 8 hours!

Change your goals, keep on track to achieve them, change the outcome of your work effords and ultimately your success and happiness!

Yes, it is possible, because all the other professions also "only" started with a university degree (but they possibly have the advantage of liking more things than just languages, e.g. accounting, controlling and/or marketing). Go out and try to learn at least some basics of these skills - it is not so bad as you may think. And you do not need that much maths, but a lot of common sense.

And no, it is not the agencies that are the "bad guys" - it is the translation community itself that:

a) does not take any interest in learning proper accounting and controlling;
b) does not even notice that their cleaning woman/man already earns more net per hour than they themselves;
(and yes! it is true, in many countries you have minimum wages - are you still above that after you have paid all your costs, taxes, health/pension insurance? THINK about it!);
c) take no interest in how to best sell their services;
d) lets others take advantage of their dislike of figures.

Learn to say NO to an indecent work proposal - if it's too low, tell you clients "no, thank you, I'll rather go to the beach instead doing nothing".

Be PROUD of your work and charge an adequate price for it. You should not have to work 2- or 3-times as many hours as your hairdresser, your plumber, your car mechanic.

If your clients do not want to pay that rate, they are not worth your attention. You can spend your time better - even if that means working in another job where you actually get a decent salary.

Believe in yourselves! Have a great day!
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Christel Zipfel
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
 Thank you for your posts, Tanja! Feb 6, 2020

They should be displayed by default in every thread in the forum "Money matters" where too often people that seek advice or reply seem to lack the most elementary maths and common sense, too.

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Lincoln Hui
Hong Kong
Local time: 13:14
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
 What? Feb 6, 2020

You mean I need to reduce my rates to that which my hairdresser charges?

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Tanja Tilch
Local time: 06:14
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
 rates of professions differ by country of course Feb 6, 2020

Lincoln Hui wrote:

You mean I need to reduce my rates to that which my hairdresser charges?

No, I mean you should look at what you pay for hourly rates for services that you buy yourself as a company (or private individual) and make sure that your own hoursly rates are at least equally high. There are differences among countries, of course. The rates for hairdressers in Germany for example are entirely different from those in Singapore/Thailand.

Some examples taken from Germany:
hourly rate of cleaning personnel: ~40-45 euros
hourly rate of a hairdresser: ~60-80 euros
hourly rate of a plumber/electrician/car mechanic: 80-130 euros
hourly rate of an engineer: 130-150 euros (or even more)
hourly rate of a lawyer: up to 300 euros (but I agree with a previous post that it is unlikely to reach for other professions as lawyers and notary publics are the highest paid profession in Germany)

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Kay Denney
France
Local time: 06:14
Member (2018)
French to English
 . Feb 6, 2020

I take a different approach.
To start with, I worked out what my per-word rate would be, based on my market knowledge and how much I feel I deserve.

I then set an hourly rate based on the same information.

However, I found that clients would ask me to proofread "their" (i.e. their machine) translation rather than have me translate the text from scratch. So I raised my hourly rate to bring it to the same amount that I would bill if I were translating from scratc
... See more
I take a different approach.
To start with, I worked out what my per-word rate would be, based on my market knowledge and how much I feel I deserve.

I then set an hourly rate based on the same information.

However, I found that clients would ask me to proofread "their" (i.e. their machine) translation rather than have me translate the text from scratch. So I raised my hourly rate to bring it to the same amount that I would bill if I were translating from scratch instead of proofreading.
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Laurent Mercky
France
Local time: 06:14
Member (2019)
Chinese to French
+ ...
 Nice but... Feb 6, 2020

Thank you for your nice proposals, again.
From tomorrow, my clients will look for cheaper translators around the World.
And you know what ? THEY WILL FIND THEM.

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