German translator’s EUR 100,000 per year story triggers heated debate

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Camille Beaupin
Peru
Member (2010)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Original article Sep 13, 2016

http://www.zeit.de/campus/2016-08/uebersetzer-gehalt-selbststaendigkeit-verdienst

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:13
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Yes, well... Sep 14, 2016

Hmm. This guy has no medical/pharmaceutical background and he started out as a pharmaceutical translator after having done 3 years of translation study. He works for EUR 0.08 per word, translates 400 words per hour, 10 hours a day, 6 hours a week. The EUR 100 000 is his turnover.

There's a little disclaimer hidden between the lines, though. He hasn't actually hit the EUR 100 000 mark yet. He's been freelancing for 2.5 years and he is currently so busy that he makes EUR 9 000 per month. But the EUR 100 000 is a spot calculation based on "if things go like this for an entire year". He might burn out soon. He might lose a client or two (or a regular client of his might finish off a large project that were the source of the torrent). Or he might fall in love, get married, move to a bigger house, and have children.


[Edited at 2016-09-14 09:45 GMT]


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:13
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Workload Sep 14, 2016

Samuel Murray wrote:

... translates 400 words per hour, 10 hours a day, 6 hours a week.


Basically a freelancer with an overworked in-house translator's streamlined and uninterrupted workload...

Not so sure that's the rule...


[Edited at 2016-09-14 10:01 GMT]


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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:13
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Has been discussed before Sep 14, 2016

There was a German forum about the same subject about a month ago or so (can't find it back though).

[Edited at 2016-09-14 20:38 GMT]


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:13
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Monthly vs Annually Sep 15, 2016

Samuel Murray wrote:
But the EUR 100 000 is a spot calculation based on "if things go like this for an entire year".

Samuel is right, it's one thing to hit those peaks, another thing entirely to sustain those levels!

I have had several big months recently, comparable to the levels discussed in the article, but it has been tiring and tough on eyes, hands and lower back to spend this much time at the keyboard.

While my (long-dormant, but apparently resurgent) workaholism makes it difficult to turn down work, I need to consider whether the short-term financial gain is worth the impact on the rest of my daily life, especially since October and November are usually busier than the summer months.

In the same way, I suspect the freelancer in the article will soon find that his distracted by something that results in lower monthly revenues. Maybe cumulative fatigue, or RSI or something hits him. Maybe he just gets bored. If nothing else, nearly all business has some kind of seasonality that results in a materially lower monthly average for the whole year.

But the tone of the article is, at least in one sense, quite positive and for that reason I'm glad it was written. If you get the right specialisation, find the right clients, optimise your workflow and put in the hours, you can certainly approach a 6-figure income. It's not easy, but making six figures isn't easy in any profession.

I think it was Siegried who mentioned in the forum somewhere that he knows a translator who makes between 10,000 and 15,000 euro per month in medical translation using voice recognition as part of a carefully tuned and optimised workflow? I would think that's possible. It's an outlier, sure, but I reckon it's feasible.

Dan


[Edited at 2016-09-15 18:03 GMT]


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dropinka  Identity Verified
Italy
English to Italian
+ ...
"10,000 and 15,000 euro per month in medical translation using voice recognition as part of..." Sep 15, 2016

Dan Lucas wrote:

I think it was Siegried who mentioned in the forum somewhere that he knows a translater who makes between 10,000 and 15,000 euro per month in medical translation using voice recognition as part of a carefully tuned and optimised workflow? I would think that's possible. It's an outlier, sure, but I reckon it's feasible.



http://www.successbyrx.com/


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Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 06:13
Japanese to English
Not so fast Sep 15, 2016


How much of that 10,000 - 15,000 comes from translation and how much from her coaching program? Many get-rich-quick gurus make the bulk of their money from books, speaking fees and one-on-one coaching and not from whatever it is they claim made them rich in the first place.


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dropinka  Identity Verified
Italy
English to Italian
+ ...
+1 Sep 15, 2016

TransAfrique wrote:

How much of that 10,000 - 15,000 comes from translation and how much from her coaching program? Many get-rich-quick gurus make the bulk of their money from books, speaking fees and one-on-one coaching and not from whatever it is they claim made them rich in the first place.


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Technically checks out, but... Sep 15, 2016

I can translate 6k words a day, for 1 day.

I can translate 4.5k words a day, for a week.

I can translate 3k words a day, every day.

The part that's coming after the comma is important.

I too have had those hectic months of activity. However, when it slows down, it is just as much appreciated as the high level of activity was.

If someone makes EUR 100,000 a year, provided they work 25 days a month and charge EUR 0.10/word, the calculation is this:

EUR 100,000 / 300 days = EUR 333,33
EUR 333,33 / EUR 0.10 = 3.3k words a day

3,3k words a day is doable on a sustainable basis.

However, as "Sully" said during the public hearing, "can we get serious now?"

The reality is that we cannot take the "business factor" out of the equation. We do need to do marketing, some travel, accounting/bookkeeping, training, account for sickness periods, write emails, answer emails, open vendor portals and download/upload stuff, negociate, and what not... All this requires time, time during which we will not be doing what we love the most: translating.

The only way to hit EUR 100,000 a year (and that's gross) would be to either consume two cans of energy drink a day and live in the vecinity of a hospital or to raise the rates to, say EUR 0.14 - EUR 0.16, which pretty much excludes collaboration with agencies. If you don't work with agencies, you have to find those customers yourself, and end customers often demand 100,000 words to be translated into 5 different languages in 4 days. And that is impossible unless you cannel it through an agency. La pescadilla que se muerde la cola...






[Edited at 2016-09-15 20:35 GMT]


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Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:13
Member (2008)
English to French
Almost the same! Sep 16, 2016

Merab Dekano wrote:

I can translate 6k words a day, for 1 day.

I can translate 4.5k words a day, for a week.

I can translate 3k words a day, every day.

The part that's coming after the comma is important.




[Edited at 2016-09-15 20:35 GMT]


I have almost exactly the same numbers!

0.14 to 0.16EUR with agencies is obtainable depending on language pair and specialization as well as reputation and the amount of trust they place in your work - an extra 4000-6000 euros on a 200K job might seem like a lot at first glance, but going cheap on an unknown could lose a multi-million dollar contract.

On a side note, if I took 0 vacations a year, I'd hit that mark in EUR (I've been hitting it in CAD for years now) as I book up my schedule week after week, month after month, but frankly, I'd rather make less money and travel and relax more. I read a great article once about how past the point where you don't have to worry about money anymore, more of it doesn't contribute to happiness, just more expensive stuff (http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2010/09/07/the-perfect-salary-for-happiness-75000-a-year/). I'd rather buy a 3-year old car than work 8 extra weeks to buy the same car new (I don't believe in financing goods that depreciate, so it's cash or nothing).

Happy translating!


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Álvaro Espantaleón  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:13
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
+ ...
That's nothing! Sep 17, 2016

I make 1000 € a day!!! If you want to know my secret, please, send me a private message and prepare some cash.

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xxxIlan Rubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:13
Russian to English
How much cash? Sep 18, 2016

Alvaro Espantaleon wrote:

I make 1000 € a day!!! If you want to know my secret, please, send me a private message and prepare some cash.


Ha ha!!


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Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:13
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
That figure will be topped soon... Sep 19, 2016

by her:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3-nQ_lPDHA

Chinese woman writes with both hands simultaneously in different languages!

[Edited at 2016-09-19 06:45 GMT]


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German translator’s EUR 100,000 per year story triggers heated debate

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