Poll: Should a beginner translator charge based on experience, or on what they want to earn?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:01
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Aug 7

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Should a beginner translator charge based on experience, or on what they want to earn?".

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:01
Member (2006)
German to English
"Should"?? Aug 7

They "should" do whatever they want. If they do a good job, why shouldnt they get the money for it? I would find it difficult (having worked with translators with univeristy degrees) working with someone in a specific if they do not have the experience though.

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:01
Russian to English
+ ...
A beginner translator should charge a rate similar to that of an experinced translator Aug 7

based solely on the difficulty of the source text. It will just take him or her four times as long to translate the text, on average--based on my experience with beginner translators. They still have to know both language's really well, even if they are beginner translators.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
As much as possible Aug 7

All translators, beginners or not, should logically charge as much as they can get away with.

Which will depend on the quality of the translations they deliver.

Which should be the same at every stage of their career.

Experience should not be a relevant factor.

I'm not a better translator than I was 20 years ago. Faster, with better-paying customers, but not better.


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Connected Trans  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:01
Member (May 2017)
Chinese to English
+ ...
Don't charge too little! Aug 7

I agree with what previous posts have said. I think the other thing to remember is that if you charge too little at the beginning, you can get yourself stuck in a low-rates trap where all your clients are with you only because you're cheap. When I started translating two years ago, I decided from the beginning to compete on quality rather than on cheapness, and it worked. Of course you can't charge too much, but I would also be wary of a translator charging pennies for a specialised job--you get the quality you pay for.

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Toni Faisal  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 03:01
Member (Apr 2017)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
please be a full-time translator first, then choose freelance translator after gaining experience Aug 7

In my opinion, a beginner should try to work in a company or a translation agency to have good experience and CAT Tool use. If he or she is a beninner, then the rate will be a little bit lower or can be higher as his/her experience, except if she or he already good or very talented.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:01
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Ditto! Aug 7

LilianNekipelov wrote:

based solely on the difficulty of the source text. It will just take him or her four times as long to translate the text, on average--based on my experience with beginner translators. They still have to know both language's really well, even if they are beginner translators.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:01
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The full rate for the job Aug 7

A translation has the same value for the client, no matter who has done it. Either it is fit for purpose, and should be charged for at the full rate, or it is useless.

Beginners should not start translating professionally until they are certain they can deliver a professional job. They need not take on all the most advanced work at once, but what they do must be up to standard.

Students and beginners fresh from college can often produce excellent translations. They have a fresh approach and may have learnt about the latest new developments in their specialist fields. It is very difficult to raise rates later on, so there is no reason to give reductions, purely because the translator is starting out on his/her career.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A beginner supposedly has no experience in translation Aug 7

If a beginner were to charge based on their professional translating experience, s/he would do it for free!

Any translator - regardless of their accrued experience - who charged "what they want to earn" wouldn't find clients willing to pay that much.

Another poorly phrased question...

IMHO an inexperienced - albeit technically prepared - translator, if experienced in the specific area of human knowledge at hand (and I'm not excluding "general") should charge the lower average adopted by professional translators for that kind of work in the language pair involved.

Only bilingual or sesquilingual "individuals" - not translators - dabbing at translation (and there is an immense crowd of them doing so, worldwide) should charge less than that, often a small fraction of it.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:01
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Choose your documents Aug 7

As a beginning translator, assuming that you have a good knowledge of the target language, search engines, CAT tools etc., you should charge a reasonable price as compared to other translators, i.e. not the highest nor the lowest. What you need to do in the beginning is choose wisely what documents you are comfortable accepting. If a client offers you a job that is clearly outside your expertise, say so or simply say that you are not available at this time but would like to work with them in the future.

[Edited at 2017-08-07 15:39 GMT]

I agree with José Henrique: what you would want to earn is not the right thing to base your price on because you would never get any clients.


[Edited at 2017-08-07 15:43 GMT]


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Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 17:01
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Really? Aug 7

So you think that the only difference between a beginner and an expert is speed?

LilianNekipelov wrote:
based solely on the difficulty of the source text. It will just take him or her four times as long to translate the text, on average--based on my experience with beginner translators. They still have to know both language's really well, even if they are beginner translators.


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Romina Eva Pérez Escorihuela
Argentina
Local time: 17:01
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same rates for everyone! Aug 7

LilianNekipelov wrote:

based solely on the difficulty of the source text. It will just take him or her four times as long to translate the text, on average--based on my experience with beginner translators. They still have to know both language's really well, even if they are beginner translators.


I couldn't agree more. I always encourage my university students to charge what professional translators do. In fact, they can verify current rates at the website of the Argentine Association of Translators and Interpreters and, in case they find difficulties while working, they can share the task with a pro who could mentor them. It's a win-win situation: they learn and the client gets a job of quality.

If beginners don't charge what professionals do, market dumping will never end. Of course, there are many other reasons for that (let's not blame beginners only!).


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:01
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A joke? Aug 7

Since when do we determine how or how much we want to charge? We define our rates and try to negotiate. It depends on several factors, but not your will: Where the client is located (country) is the most significant one. The language pair and the area of expertise could make some difference, and perhaps your (proven) experience. After you evaluate all factors, you calculate a decent and applicable rate to those conditions and try to negotiate.
If I charged the rate I wanted to earn or based on my experience, I would have no jobs and all clients would reject my quotes.
Be real! Your will is the last factor that matters in the market... if it matters at all.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:01
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
There's really no good answer Aug 9

I taught translation at Georgetown University for 17 years. To qualify for the certificate, they all had to pass the final tests. But when I tried some of them out in my office, there was a huge range in the acceptability of their work. Some (usually the students who were also studying simultaneous interpretation) did beautifully, but others produced such bad work that fixing it cost as much as hiring an experienced translator in the first place.

From a business perspective, it's not worth paying full rate for someone whose work has to be redone.

As for the value of experience, I know my work gets better each year, and I've been translating for more years than I care to admit. It would be virtually impossible for a beginner to perform at the level of a seasoned professional, IMHO.


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Texte Style
Local time: 21:01
French to English
no joke! Aug 9

Mario, do you not think your level of confidence has anything to do with how much you charge?

I had pretty low rates until I decided I was worth more. I quoted higher for each client and got away with it!

I agree that beginners are much slower, having to give thought to all sorts of considerations, and that once you've thought these things through, you can translate them more quickly the next time. However I'm pretty sure that some of my early translations were only just fit for purpose, I probably didn't cut the cr@p as much or as radically as I do nowadays. I certainly do provide much better translations now.


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