Macro/Micro: The wages of translation

Terena Bell
MultiLingual June 2015
Columns and Commentary

Perhaps this is why we never think about minimum wage when it comes to translation — because you get paid for exactly what you do. Translation, after all, isn’t billed by the hour, it’s billed by the word. The construct allows translation purchasers and sellers to pretend time is analogous....

But when we think about wages for the type of translators most MultiLingual readers work with, we’re looking at a very specific subset of this data: The freelancer. What does she make?

An even better question — and the answer to the question I just asked — is what do clients pay for translation? Those of us on the language services provider (LSP) side have long felt the pressure declining rates has put on our industry. It’s understandable. Client costs have gone up in other areas, tech disruption has lowered the cost of business in other industries, and translation must compete and compare to the realities of a modern business budget....

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