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How much can a translator make?

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Translation can either make or break businesses. Choosing translation service based on cost will potential tarnish the reputation of a company.

The quality of translation can either make or break businesses.

The importance of good translation cannot be emphasized enough!

In this particular case, it made this K-drama, My Love From A Star, tremendously popular in China.

What is disturbing is that although translators were instrumental in the success of the K-drama in China, they were paid peanuts! Just USD2.60 for the translation of an entire episode!!

Can translators be fuelled by passion alone?

This is a very interesting topic, often very much debated amongst translators, new and seasoned ones. Depending on who you are speaking to, many will stand their ground and demand to be paid a decent amount that justifies their professionalism and experience. There are also many “working” translators, who would take on jobs even at very low rates, just to keep themselves occupied and to pay bills.

Just like all goods and services, you can expect to be charged very differently based on several factors:

  • Experience of the translator
  • Qualification of the translator
  • Specialization
  • Supply of translators for the language pair
  • The location of the translator
  • Timeline, etc.

You should also expect to be paying more if you are working with a translation solution provider.

Just like all goods and services, if you are paying a very low rate, the likelihood of getting a bad translator or at best a mediocre one is very high.

Like doctors and lawyers, a good & professional translator is the result of many years of formal education and more years of on-the-job training. The love for languages and passion for translation, is mostly what motivates one to be a translator.

However, translators need to live, eat, play, pay bills, and more. When not sustainably remunerated, this passion will die out sooner than later.

Next time when you are looking for a good translator, bear in mind that you get what you pay for and those good translators do not come cheap.

One more thing. When you are tempted to ask your bilingual colleague to do a translation for you, bear this in mind: Being bilingual also doesn’t make one a translator.

 

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