What should I charge?

by Ann-Marie Cooper
(Derby England)

Hi Joanna,

First of all I would like to say your website is great and it has been a mine of information for me.

I lived and worked in Germany for many years and my oldest son went to school there for a while. I am definitely fluent in the language: I speak, read and write it. Recently I received a BA Honours in creative writing. As you can see my first two loves are languages and writing.

I would like to become a freelance German-English translator, but I am unsure what I should charge. If I wanted to charge an hourly rate for example, larger jobs such as 20,000 30,000 words, what would be the normal rate? And for smaller translations what should I charge per line? Additionally, what would be the best organisation for me to join, do you think that I would need to study or is there an exam I can take to prove my ability?

I hope you don't mind these questions and thank you for your time.


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Get qualified!
by: Joanna

Hello Ann-Marie

Thanks for your kind comments!

Sounds like you might be just the right candidate for a profession in German translation ? an academic background, thorough knowledge of the German language AND the culture. I would definitely recommend a translation qualification, and as you are based in the UK I suggest the Chartered Institute of Linguists? (CIOL) Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) which is internationally recognised as an indicator of professional competence. The CIOL is the examining body and recommends preparatory courses ? ranging from full time MAs to online courses which chiefly consist of seeing how you do on past DipTrans examination papers and recommending where to focus on improvements. This may be all you need. Further information: www.iol.org.uk. Act quick ? the registration deadline for 2012 has been extended.

Re. charging: The CIOL is currently asking members to submit their rates in a survey, the results of which will be published in due course (may only be available to members). According to the German Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ) (www.bdue.de), in their 2010 survey of their members, the average price a translator charges per line (55 characters including spaces) when working for an agency is ?1.00, and around ?1.30 when working directly for private clients and businesses. This translates into hourly rates of around ?40 and ?48. The million dollar question, of course, is what to charge when you are starting out. Once qualified, I would suggest line rates as close to these figures as possible ? the translation will probably take you longer than it would an experienced translator, and thus your ability to earn should directly increase in accordance with your experience. Price dumping is a particular danger in this unregulated industry and all translators are encouraged to avoid this as far as possible.

Hope this helps!


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German to English Translation

Joanna Scudamore-Trezek

I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively.  How can I help you today?

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