How Much do Translators Earn?

How Much do Translators Earn?

How much translators earn depends on their skill set and experience along with other things. While most people do not want to hear “it depends,” that is the answer when it comes to translation work. There are several things that can influence how much a person makes doing translation. These include, but are not limited to, experience, education, skill level, certification, languages, subject matter, and who employs them. Of those, language, subject matter, and experience are the most influential factors.

How does language choice influence how much translators earn in the translation industry? The simple fact is that the market puts higher salaries on the languages that fewer people can translate. When there are a large number of translators for a particular language, the salary levels go lower. When there are few that work in a particular language, the salary levels go higher. Spanish is one of the most saturated language areas in translation in the United States. There are many translators available all over. However, when it comes to Arabic, those numbers go down sharply. Arabic-English translators usually command higher salaries than their Spanish-English translator counterparts do.

How does subject matter influence how much translators earn? Subject matter expertise is crucial in business. This is true for interpreters as well as those in other areas. Law, medicine, and technology have languages all their own. In order to translate technical documents, a translator needs knowledge of the language as well as the technical subject matter. When someone is successful at both, they can command a higher salary than a general language translator in the same language can. Demand drives salaries. A translator that can move medical documents from Mandarin Chinese to English will likely make more than someone who translates entertainment magazine articles in the same language.

How does experience influence how much translators earn? Years of experience will also show in the salary offered. Someone fresh to the translation industry will make lower amounts than those with experience. Those that have lifelong experience with a language will often receive more than someone gets fresh out of college classes who is not a native speaker. Those with experience will often receive offers for projects that require them to stretch their skills. They can usually get higher salaries for these projects as well as regular work. While education and certification play a role in salary, they do not trump experience when it comes to salary level in most cases.

-By Adriana Tassini

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