Typical Turn Around Time
Thread poster: jordanberger59
jordanberger59
United States
Apr 24, 2014

Hello,

I wanted to ask for a consensus about what your typical turn around times are:

For example, 1000 words/day; 20 pages of official certificates per day

Also, please let me know if you're a full time or a part-time translator.

Thank you very much!


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 00:59
German to English
+ ...
It depends Apr 24, 2014

The official rule of thumb is that a professional translator can produce an average of 2,500 words/day. In actual fact, each project should be considered individually. You examine the project, estimate how long it may take you based on difficulty and anticipated hiccups, and quote longer as a safety factor.

I use approximate turnaround time for my own calculations, but I do not answer clients who want to know my turnaround time. The reason is that a freelancer will be working on several projects, and it doesn't help an agency to know my turnaround time, since I have to estimate by when I can have something done, based on ALL my projects.


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Javier Wasserzug  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 25, 2014



[Edited at 2014-04-25 01:24 GMT]


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dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:59
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
More than 1 client Apr 25, 2014

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

The reason is that a freelancer will be working on several projects, and it doesn't help an agency to know my turnaround time, since I have to estimate by when I can have something done, based on ALL my projects.


I had some difficult conversations in this respect, as not all clients understand that I don't sit around twiddling my thumbs until they contact me and then dive straight in. There is (almost) always other work.
To make things a little easier with my regular direct clients and allow them to plan the preparation of the relevant documents in good time, we work with a schedule of 4 working days lead time + 2000 words/working day. At times that means that I need to work night-shift or weekend, but I will be able to deliver that pretty much regardless of what I have on the table already. Naturally, I will push my boundaries a little if there is an actual urgency.

The type of document makes a huge difference and it can throw my productivity all the way from about 1500 to 6000/day, around 3k is probably normal.

If an outsourcer actually asks me for my turnaround time, it leads me to the assumptions that a) he is NOT very interested in quality; b) he is looking for someone without existing clients who is desperate for work; and therefore c) it is highly unlikely that we will come to a business agreement.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ditto Apr 25, 2014

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

The official rule of thumb is that a professional translator can produce an average of 2,500 words/day. In actual fact, each project should be considered individually. You examine the project, estimate how long it may take you based on difficulty and anticipated hiccups, and quote longer as a safety factor.

I use approximate turnaround time for my own calculations, but I do not answer clients who want to know my turnaround time. The reason is that a freelancer will be working on several projects, and it doesn't help an agency to know my turnaround time, since I have to estimate by when I can have something done, based on ALL my projects.


What a neat response. Sums it up nicely. I tell my clients to count on no more than 2K a day when planning (if they do plan at all) their deadlines.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
Never mind the width Apr 25, 2014

dianaft wrote:

If an outsourcer actually asks me for my turnaround time, it leads me to the assumptions that a) he is NOT very interested in quality; b) he is looking for someone without existing clients who is desperate for work; and therefore c) it is highly unlikely that we will come to a business agreement.


My sentiments exactly.


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 07:59
German to Swedish
+ ...
Too many certificates Apr 25, 2014

jordanberger59 wrote:

For example, 1000 words/day; 20 pages of official certificates per day



Assuming that you're a sworn translator, 20 certificate pages per day is way, way too much.

Consider:

  • Customer contact (can be time-consuming with private customers)

  • Reading the text - often with half-illegible stamps and contact details

  • Terminology research (certificates are often tricky)

  • Layout (very important with certificates!)

  • Proofreading

  • Final paper printout, signing & stamping

  • Shipping (physically at the post office, sometimes paperwork with registered mail)



An hour per certificate is the absolute minimum.
Even if the format appears to be identical to something you've done previously, you never know and must double-check every word.

[Edited at 2014-04-25 08:17 GMT]


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 07:59
French to English
+ ...
Depends... Apr 25, 2014

For "normal" documents inside my own comfort zone, I use 3,000 source words per day for planning purposes but can actually do up to 5,000. I wouldn't want to sustain that rate for more than 2-3 days though. For real emergencies I can manage a little more by working overtime but quickly run into diminishing returns.

By quoting at 60% of my maximum rate, it allows me some safety margin and also allows me to squeeze in small urgent jobs for good customers.

A lot of my jobs are in the 3-5,000 word range so I can often offer 24 hour turnaround (assuming I'm not already working on a project or that project has enough flexibility).


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:59
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It also depends on what kind of certificates... Apr 25, 2014

Joakim Braun wrote:

jordanberger59 wrote:

For example, 1000 words/day; 20 pages of official certificates per day



Assuming that you're a sworn translator, 20 certificate pages per day is way, way too much.

(...)

An hour per certificate is the absolute minimum.
Even if the format appears to be identical to something you've done previously, you never know and must double-check every word.

[Edited at 2014-04-25 08:17 GMT]


... you translate. For my part, I translate mostly certificates of medical devices!


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:59
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Rules of thumb and reality Apr 25, 2014

I don't know who worked out the 2 500 words a day 'rule of thumb' and which languages it applies to. With some languages - Finnish or German, or some of the less widespread languages, with fewer resources and dictionaries, so you have to use English or another language as an intermediary, then 2 500 words a day will be impossible. I believe it is easier with languages like French, Spanish and Italian.

If you use a CAT and your text is highly repetitive, then you can play all sorts of games...

How many words you can translate in a day will depend on so many things - you can set an average over time, but it will not tell you much about any particuar job.
_______________________________

I work full time and have no children at home. My husband deals with tax, accounts and computer issues, but I do the invoicing.
My personal rule of thumb is a maximum of 2 000 words a day. Those are Danish source words, and in fact there is a 20 - 25% difference between that figure and the English target!
2 000 Danish words translate into 2 200 English words or more, depending on type of text etc.

When I started translating, we aimed at 2 000 English words a day, and it was hard work!
I was even working in-house and the company had other staff to do the administrative work, invoicing and so on.

On many days it was simply not possible nevertheless, because the in-house translators used to do the small, fiddly jobs that freelancers simply could not earn a living on.

I did also translate public reports of 40 000 words or thereabouts that took several weeks, and it was occasionally possible to exceed the 2000 words a day.

The Internet was not what it is now, and it was only at the end of my time in-house that we started using Trados 3, I think it was.
_________________________

Later, the agency went over to counting source words, and adjusted all rates to give the translators the same pay for the same job.
Then it became a real struggle to get up to 2 000 a day, especially when I went freelance soon afterwards. Maximum 1 800 a day was more realistic.

CATS have come a long way since then, but I now have to do my own administration.
12 000 words in a week (Danish source count, no repetition worth mentioning) of legal or academic text is a marathon.

I still keep to the max. 10 000 words a week limit when I am doing my usual run of mixed jobs, some a couple of hundred words and the largest around
2 000.

_________________________

So check your own language pair(s) and capacity before you set your rates on the basis of 2 500 words a day!


[Edited at 2014-04-25 18:21 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:59
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Not always Apr 25, 2014

dianaft wrote:

If an outsourcer actually asks me for my turnaround time, it leads me to the assumptions that a) he is NOT very interested in quality; b) he is looking for someone without existing clients who is desperate for work; and therefore c) it is highly unlikely that we will come to a business agreement.


Sometimes they have a large job and tight deadline, and want to get a feel for how many translators they'll need to team up in order to get it done without incurring rush rates.

Those looking for desperate translators will make sure to mention "best possible rates" in their message.


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dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:59
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Turnaround vs availability Apr 25, 2014

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

dianaft wrote:

If an outsourcer actually asks me for my turnaround time, it leads me to the assumptions that a) he is NOT very interested in quality; b) he is looking for someone without existing clients who is desperate for work; and therefore c) it is highly unlikely that we will come to a business agreement.


Sometimes they have a large job and tight deadline, and want to get a feel for how many translators they'll need to team up in order to get it done without incurring rush rates.

Those looking for desperate translators will make sure to mention "best possible rates" in their message.


I guess this is a matter of how we understand the question. If I am asked about my availability at a specific point in time or how much of a project I can handle I understand it in line with your statement here.

If I am asked about my turnaround I understand this to refer to my total capacity, not the proportion of my capacity that I can contribute after taking other assignments into account. Unfortunately, some agencies use this measure in order to class an assignment as non-urgent - not at the specific point specific availability is checked for a certain project, but for unrelated assignments at a later stage. This practice is what my perspective is based on.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:59
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Why do you want to know? Apr 25, 2014

jordanberger59 wrote:

Hello,

I wanted to ask for a consensus about what your typical turn around times are:

For example, 1000 words/day; 20 pages of official certificates per day

Also, please let me know if you're a full time or a part-time translator.

Thank you very much!


Why do you want to know, stranger?

Cheers,
Gerard


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jordanberger59
United States
TOPIC STARTER
Clarifications Apr 25, 2014

Hello, I'm referring to English to Spanish and Spanish to English. I would just like to get a feel for what is competitive and what is NOT competitive. Also, let's be real here, an agency or a client is always going to go with the translator who can provide the best quality (i.e. best samples or past work) at the lowest price. In other words, no need for negative comments, I just want to reach a consensus on what the spectrum is.

From what I've read, 1000 words is usually a competitive minimum and 5000 words is like, the translator on 3 red bulls kind of rate (i.e. very unsustainable and perhaps too much).

Let me know if I can clarify anything else.


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