Is a low paid subtitling job an indicator of its poor quality?
Thread poster: Polana (X)

Polana (X)
Local time: 15:10
English to Slovak
+ ...
Sep 10, 2007

Hello everyone,

I have started just recently some subtitling work. I currently live in France but translate from English to Slovak. This being my first experience in subtitling, I was happy about the opportunity, even more so as I am a literary person, keen cinema-goer and film-viewer, and very much concerned with language(s).
I accepted the subtitling job and the rates were fixed (it was specified I had to accept the rates or not work with them, and I wanted to have this experience) much lower than what people seem to indicate here on this forum as the lowest acceptable ones (in general you say 4USD per minute at least, which is more than half of what I get).

You also link it with necessarily bad quality.

So, I am rather disappointed to find out that I am working by these rates. At the same time, I so much enjoy the work anyway, I wouldn't want to give it up. I prefer it to anything I've been able to find where I live. I couldn't "live" doing certain kinds of job with regular pay and working hours. I am just too much of a free and wild person who needs art and freedom to survive, even if it's with little money.
But since I live in Paris, it's gonna be hard to make a living with that.
So what is the aim of my post?
I'd like to say that I believe my translations are not poor. I'd die of shame and I just couldn't let it pass. My aim is to write poetry and novels so how could I mistreat language? No way. Language has been my passion for many years. I've been studying literature and languages and specialising in some difficult contemporary English poetry and I am quite sure my translations in Slovak are in correct grammar, idiomatic, synthetic (shortened to fit a reasonable length of a subtitle, but without loss of the meaning) and very digestible to the reader (I take into account every possible aspect of the needed outocome). I don't translate literally and my first preoccupation when I translate subtitles is to make it short enough for the viewer to catch them while not sacrifying the accuracy. It has happened I have changed a formulation or leaved out a small thing, but that was because I saw it was impossible to read the whole subtitle in the time span reserved for it. So any modification I do, I know why.
I am very sad with all of you it is happening the work is being paid so low and people accept it -- but in my case I won't say no until I find a company that pays more.
Please feel welcome to react to my post, (don't scold me please!) and if you can give any advice on how to get a better pay for a good quality work, I'd be very glad.
Especially Sylvan from Paris, that is living where I do, maybe could give me a hint?

[Modifié le 2007-09-10 14:55]


Local time: 15:10
English to French
You're 100% right Sep 12, 2007

I don't think low paid subtitles are necessarily bad. I've accepted myself low rates when I started and it didn't make the quality of my work cheaper for that matter (though poor rates and absurd deadlines may alter your work, let's face it). But that's the problem : why be paid this way if you do good work ? If you accept that, how can you expect clients to pay more if they're happy with what they get ? Enjoying yourself with subtitling is a good thing, but it won't pay the (Parisian) rent on the long run. I understand you're being paid 1 or 2 $ a minute (?!), when on the French market, you can (and should) get 5 to 10 times that rate.
Eventually, you'll have to say no and quickly look for other clients (French ones, I mean) or you won't enjoy subtitling any more, you won't afford to live decently and you'll lose professional pride.

Best of luck to you, Polana.


Polana (X)
Local time: 15:10
English to Slovak
+ ...
Thank you for your encouragement Sylvano. Sep 12, 2007

I think you are right in what you say.
I haven't found any French companies that would include my language combinations, though. But I'll keep on searching!
I do get paid correctly for a proofreading job for a French company,
but that's for from being regular and frequent work, so I hope
my research will be fruitfull, or else I'll have to put up with alternative jobs for some time.

(By the way, I am paid just 0,23USD per subtitle, which means around 80€ per 45mn episode, sometimes more, sometimes less. It ends up being less than the minimal pay SMIC in France. Which is ridiculous of course. Must seem awful to you, and I
feel quite discouraged. Maybe they said I had to accept the tariffs, because they knew there are people living in Slovakia, who would
accept them, so they wouldn't bother with me. In a way it is my problem that I live in a much more expensive country. The company I work for is quite known in the business, and I suspect people from Norway, Sweden, France or Germany working for this company get offered higher rates. I think this because I read a post here by someone working for them from one of these countries saying they paid well.).


Local time: 15:10
English to French
Yes, but... Sep 13, 2007

Hi Polana,

I think I know the name of the company you are talking about, and they offered me 0.23 USD per subtitle too last year (for English to French).

Of course, I refused. There are many subtitling companies that do not pay much, but I think this one pays the most ridiculous rates I've ever seen. That's why they'are always recruiting anyway.

Because that's the big problem : Sylvano, I quite agree with you, some French companies pay 10 times more than that, but do you really think they are hiring new translators ?

One good thing for you Polana is that you have a "rare" language, so the market is maybe better for you than for French translators.

Good luck !


Polana (X)
Local time: 15:10
English to Slovak
+ ...
No regrets then. Sep 13, 2007

At least I know they wouldn't change their remuneration policy
because of me, and that's good to know. I'll take this work as a practice for the time being, after all it may help me get a better
paid job in the field later. At least I hope. I'll take it from a good side.

And yes, I think it's quite difficult to enter a French company,
unless you're lucky or they need exactly your specialty and you're the only one to have it. One needs to know many people to get opportunities in France, I find.

Thank you for your contribution Juliette.


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Is a low paid subtitling job an indicator of its poor quality?

Advanced search

Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »
SDL MultiTerm 2019
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2019 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2019 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search