Factors affecting rates
The question of what determines a translator’s pay can be probed at two levels: it can be looked at from a distance, at an industry-wide level, or from up close, at an individual level.
At the industry wide level, one could cite such variables as one’s language combinations and country of residence: a translator translating from Chinese to Greek normally earns more than one who translates from English to Greek, and a translator who lives in the United Kingdom usually earns more than one who lives in Greece. Another decisive factor is whether the language professional works: (a) as a freelancer or independent professional or sole proprietor; (b) in house at a translation company or another company in the language services industry; (c) as an employee at the translation department of an enterprise in some other industry. Finally, pay is contingent on one’s seniority and qualifications, although this is not always the case, sadly.
At the individual level, a professional first determines how much he needs to earn per month to have a viable and sustainable business, which can cover his cost of living and support his lifestyle. Second, he decides how many hours he can work per month. Then, by dividing the target monthly income by the target monthly work hours, he derives the target hourly rate. To achieve this hourly rate, the language professional needs to be aware of his actual hourly output for each type of work that he might undertake: translation, software localization, translation review, subtitling, and so on. Therefore, the main factor that affects rates is productivity, which varies not only by task but also by the following features of a job:
- technicality of content: density and rarity of technical terms, conceptual clarity
- linguistic complexity: sentence and text structure, clarity of expression
- formality: official documents and other documents with well-specified conventions
- intended use: getting the gist, learning, communicating, publishing
- intended audience: age, educational level, familiarity with a topic
- file format: availability and ease of use of software tools
- client specifications: amount and complexity of requirements
The units used for quoting rates depend on the kind of service. Here are the most common units by job type:
- translation, localization: word or page
- translation review, proofreading: word or hour
- subtitling, transcription: minute (of video or audio)
- quality audit: hour
I can offer the following discounts:
- lower rates for words in fuzzy TM matches, provided that a translation memory has been supplied by the client
- large volume discount for projects with more than 15,000 words
- reduced base rate for clients in developing countries and countries with a low income per capita
Currencies and payment methods
I can receive payments in euros (EUR), British pounds (GBP), and US dollars (USD). I have three bank accounts, one for each currency, all of them in Greece. So, you can make a wire transfer to one of these accounts, which is the method I prefer. But, if you’d rather not make an international bank transfer, you could use PayPal or TransferWise. I have also received payments by cheque and Western Union, but I would like to avoid these methods, if possible.