Spanish-English Translation Rates
Thread poster: danadiana

danadiana
Ireland
Local time: 21:42
English
+ ...
Oct 8, 2009

I was wandering if anyone feels that translation rates have dropped too much even for specialised subjects and clients are requiring ever more dropping rates with less concern for quality? Are rates of over €.05/word for technical translations considered high?

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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
€.05/word is an insult Oct 9, 2009

danadiana wrote:

I was wandering if anyone feels that translation rates have dropped too much even for specialised subjects and clients are requiring ever more dropping rates with less concern for quality? Are rates of over €.05/word for technical translations considered high?



€.05/word is an insult, why even pay attention to it? Your profile rates are 0.10 EUR per word / 50 EUR per hour seem fair enough to me. What do you care if others are willing to work for apittance? Sell a good product at a fair rate, and you'll be fine./


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Emma Ratcliffe  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:42
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
translation rates Oct 9, 2009

I too feel that some organizations/people give us a great cutback when we quote. Recently I offered a quote for a job and the client said he had tens of others at 1/1th of what I had quoted. I certainly wished him Good Luck and left it like that.
I don't know the kind of quality of others but I can truly sell myself for what I'm worth and they get their monies worth, that's for sure.


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Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with David Oct 9, 2009

David Russi wrote:

€.05/word is an insult, why even pay attention to it? Your profile rates are 0.10 EUR per word / 50 EUR per hour seem fair enough to me. What do you care if others are willing to work for apittance? Sell a good product at a fair rate, and you'll be fine./


0.10 EUR/word is a decent rate, but if you are specialized in finance, banking, etc. I would think that it is a bit low. I would ask for a minimum of 0.12 EUR/word (at least).


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:42
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It is all well and good to encourage everyone to stick to their guns, but....... Oct 9, 2009

I also think 0.05 euros is an insult, but I think Dana is correct in noting the trend toward lower and lower rates--especially if we judge by the oh-so-stellar offers being made on the proz.com jobs board.

We cannot pretend that this trend does not effect those of us who live in markets where a rate of 0.05 euros/word translates into an hourly rate that can indeed be called insulting in terms of a professional service.

So it is all well and good for David and Penelope to encourage Dana to stick to her guns and demand what she is worth. Yet if she takes this advice to heart, she may well end up not getting any work at all, tossed out of her home, and standing in line at a soup kitchen to get something to eat.

I can say this from very personal perspective: When I started translating, prior to getting certification, six years ago, I was able to work for XX cents a word. For the most part, this is what I still get, although my "preferred rates" are of course higher. So a stagnant rate over 6 years. How much has the value of the dollar depreciated during that time?

It is a good thing that my knowledge base has increased such that I can work faster. It is only this variable that allows me to earn decent money.

I am less than thrilled at this state of affairs, but I also don't want to eat my next meal at a soup kitchen. Knowing I have "stuck to my guns" will be cold comfort indeed as I sip the thin broth and contemplate spending a night on a smelly cot at a homeless shelter.

This is a troubling trend indeed. Does anyone have any constructive suggestions as to what to do about this, beyond venting to one another in a closed and smoky room?

[Edited at 2009-10-09 15:37 GMT]


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danadiana
Ireland
Local time: 21:42
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Robert Oct 9, 2009

That's indeed what I meant, rates are dropping and I was wondering what are other translators doing about this? I have seen jobs offered on proz with ridiculous budgets available and it's hard for me to believe when I see that people actually bid on them.

As for sticking to my guns, yes I do that but I have noticed that I get less work now because of that and much of my time is not utilised making money.

As translators we should stick together and not accept ridiculous rates. After all I have worked for years to gain the knowledge that I've acquired and can provide high quality professional documents that not that many people can.


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
I did not mean to belittle the problem, it is real Oct 11, 2009

danadiana wrote:

As for sticking to my guns, yes I do that but I have noticed that I get less work now because of that and much of my time is not utilised making money.

As translators we should stick together and not accept ridiculous rates. After all I have worked for years to gain the knowledge that I've acquired and can provide high quality professional documents that not that many people can.


I agree, with you and Robert... I have experienced the same effect, but I have come to the conclusion that I would rather work less for more, and spend some of the time I have on my hands marketing myself at a better rate than I would otherwise get.

If you have not heard of it yet, you might be interested in AIPTI (http://www.aipti.org/eng/), a new association formed precisely to fight these trends in our industry.


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
I do speak from experience, Robert... Oct 11, 2009

Robert Forstag wrote:
So it is all well and good for David and Penelope to encourage Dana to stick to her guns and demand what she is worth. Yet if she takes this advice to heart, she may well end up not getting any work at all, tossed out of her home, and standing in line at a soup kitchen to get something to eat.


I freelanced for many years, and saw rates eroding, just as you describe, by stagnation, then a bit at a time, the agencies I worked with started to pressure to lower rates, and eventually, when I would not give in any further, they turned elsewhere. The time came that I had to make a choice, and dropped two of my main clients (together they were almost half my income) because I would not give in on the rates (there were other issues as well, but these could probably have been figured out). At the time, I was working with two other partners, as a group, and my decision impacted them deeply, we were divided on this (they continue to work for the same rate, three years later, and are still pressured to lower them).

I will admit I was lucky, I found an in-house job at that time, flexible enough that even though it paid me less than I felt I could make as a freelancer, it allowed me to work part time, until my they were able to raise my salary to a level that justified going full time. It took a couple of years of lowered standards, yes, but I am now back to where I should be.

Was it worth it? You bet! I love freelancing, the first ten years of my career were fabulous, but in my view much of the market has fallen prey to large agencies, and the industry has eroded its standards, pays lip service to quality it does not really care about, and in the end, the real driver is cost (I have been told this in no uncertain terms, more than once).

Agencies used to have in-hose translators. They essentially did away with that when they realized that they could shift a lot of their cost onto the tranbslator by hiring freelancers. Even better, savvy ones, who could take one some of the technical aspects that they would otherwise have had to handle in house. Even better when a group could handle jultiple steps, reducing the internal project management burden. And why not DTP work as well? Then TMs came, they were goo, but most of the benefit for translator was in content management, internal consistency, whereas the client got reduced costs in the form of being able to track repetitions, but also in being able to demand a discount for "fuzzy matches".

Then, for over several years, agencies turned overseas, buying translation services in other countries, and moving their offices to places where their costs are lower, a strategy that paid off, but not really for them, but for the client. You could argue that the translators in these countries have experienced something of a boom, but really they are being exploited, and are driving worldwide rates down (to say nothing of their dignity, since they can find out what rates are elsewhere). And the net result has been the general erosion of rates. Marketplace sites have contributed, at least marginally, to this trend by creating an environment where you could essentially by for the lowest rate.

Take a look here, it is shocking to compare what a "language lead" makes (let alone a tester or editor), compared to the software engineer or the project manager:
http://www.glassdoor.com/GD/Salaries/company-salaries.htm?sc.generalKeyword=sdl&locId=&locT=
http://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Lionbridge-Salary-E9427_P2.htm

I know, it's a small sample and may not mean much, but I look at salaries offered in our industry in the US, and see that this reflects the trend of translation work being offered in the low teens of dollars per hour (requiring degrees, years of experience and much computer knowledge), while SW engineers and managers command much, much higher salaries. What and who is valued here? Take away the linguist, and what does this industry have?

Clients continue to demand lower rates of agencies, but they have precious little ground to give. If we do not stand up to it (and I recognize that many of us can't or won't), a lower standard becomes the norm (well, it has already, but could it get worse?). As good freelancers begin to realize that they can and should demand the same rate as freelancers other places, it will become, I hope, more difficult for this to continue.


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
At the risk of stating the obvious Oct 11, 2009

have you tried finding a few direct customers, that way you can charge twice as much or thereabouts. Personally I don't think I would be able to cope if I only had direct customers, but having a couple of them who contact me 2-3 times a year is a good way of bumping up my income up.

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