ATA outlines pay rates for language industry professionals in 58-page report

The American Translators Association (ATA) has released the sixth edition of the ATA Compensation Survey, revealing in-depth data on income and pay rates in the language services industry.

Using information from a 2021 survey of language professionals, the ATA compiled the 58-page report to identify the mean and median income of both freelance and staff interpreters and translators at various stages in their careers. In addition to including demographic, income, and employment information, the report also allows individuals to understand how rates change according to their language specialization and location, among other things. ATA members can access the full report through the ATA Member Center.

“The report created from this survey represents the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date income and pay rate data on the translation and interpreting professions,” the ATA writes. “The results are invaluable in managing a T&I business and planning for the future.”

Most of the respondents claimed that they were freelance or self-employed translators (85%). A smaller number self-identified as freelance or self-employed interpreters (12%), while others held different roles such as project managers, staff translators/interpreters, and business owners (12.7%). The ATA accepted multiple responses regarding an individual’s role in the language services industry, so there is some overlap between these groups.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, company owners had the highest mean income from language services, at about $129,229. Staff interpreters and translators (earning an average of $71,154 and $60,674 respectively from language services alone) tended to earn more than their freelance counterparts ($58,496 for interpreters and $48,305 for translators), with interpreters earning significantly more than translators in both freelance and staff positions.

The majority of respondents had been working in the industry for more than 10 years. While ATA membership was not a requirement to participate in the survey, 89% of the survey’s respondents were ATA members — given that ATA members were shown to have a higher mean income than the 11% non-members, this could potentially indicate that the results of the survey are somewhat skewed toward professionals who are able to afford an ATA membership. Still, the organization notes that the report is an “invaluable benchmarking tool” for those working in or planning to work in the industry.

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Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.

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