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How Much Do Translators Make in the US and Worldwide?

Content how much do translators make

Many young people who are trying to determine what kind of education they should get consider working as translators. There are many factors affecting this decision, and the salary is understandably the most influential of them. If you are interested in languages for whatever reason, you likely wondered, how much do translators make? What is an average salary for them and how does it differ among the countries? What other factors affect it; is it possible to live comfortably only by doing translating work? You’ll find all these answers here. The truth is, the translation industry is represented by numerous things that are worth exploring, but we’ve selected four most relevant that you’ll definitely find interesting as well as informative, especially if you’re planning on joining this sphere.

Do Translators Make Good Money? Top Four Highest Paying Language Pairs

It’s not a secret that the value of work in America differs from the cost of the same work in other countries. For instance, professional Chinese translation services will be cheaper in China than in the US, and in India, they’ll be worth even less. But one fact remains undeniable: all in all, translators earn big sums of money regardless of the place of their residence. There are some aspects that affect price distribution, and the choice of a language is one of them. Let’s regard the four best-paid language pairs along with their estimated translation worth.

1) Aramaic to English

language pair

Aramaic to English

Aramaic languages are considered very rare at this point. They originated in ancient Syria and went through 3 thousand-years development. Of course, the original languages from this group have become extinct, but Aramaic still exists in several modern forms. Namely, there is Eastern Aramaic, which is also known as Modern Syriac. It has various dialects and is spoken by many religious communities, and most often, it’s paired with English. Due to the rarity of Aramaic, the number of professional translators is limited, so the standard hourly rate for services like this approaches $40.

2) English to Danish

English to Danish

Danish falls into the North Germanic group, and many English-speaking individuals do business with Denmark as well as Greenland where it’s spoken. For establishing communication, they need assistance, and since not many experts specialize in Danish, it makes this language pair quite expensive. Translation prices comprise about $40 per one hour of work here.

3) Chinese to English

Chinese to English

China and the United States have many ties, on both governmental and individual levels. There are constant exchanges, business operations, privacy inquiries, and policy-related activities taking place, and while there are many linguists working with Chinese/English pairs, there are few truly qualified ones. For the Chinese, mastering English is difficult and vice versa. That’s why the translator hourly rate for such services is high, also reaching almost $40.

4) English to Arabic

English to Arabic

Considering the prominent place the UAE is playing in the world, more and more countries rush to start cooperation with it. People along with large firms get to know each other, and news, literature, scientific publications, as well as business offers are exchanged and cemented. Since Arabic is viewed as a complex language, translators who work with it earn approximately $30 for one hour.

Translator Salary: Translators vs. Interpreters

Translating industry is roughly divided into two large categories: the first one is represented by translators and the second one features interpreters. Both earn a lot, though the sum depends on their qualification as well as on the industry where they function. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2019, the four sectors below let both groups earn the following median annual wages:

Translator Salary

Pretty high numbers, aren’t they? And yet at the same time, translators and interpreters work on different terms, so their salaries differ, letting one group make more than the other. Let’s focus on translators first. They work with written texts and can generally operate at their own pace. They do it in seclusion of their workplace and have a range of professional software that could come in handy, facilitating their work process. Even when they provide translating services online, they do it unobserved and apply methods that they find most useful. Interpreters don’t have such luxury.

Unlike translators, interpreters help translate someone’s words orally. Most of them have to do it right as a conversation is happening, helping both parties understand each other. It’s a more stressful job since it doesn’t allow any mistakes and requires the utmost speed and attention. For this reason, it is more high-paying. Note that a lot is dependent on translator and interpreter’s qualifications, though. A certified translator salary per hour is higher than the one a freelance amateur interpreter receives. But if you assume that both a translator and an interpreter salary is the same, then the latter will earn more, sometimes by as much as 40%.

Pay Gaps Between The Countries: Places Where Translators Earn Best and Worst

While being a linguist is a universally appreciated position, the payment for it can be vastly different. Poor countries are mostly incapable of paying their workers properly; developed countries, on the contrary, may pay more than the services actually cost because they can afford it. There are always exceptions since most salaries are established by private companies, but fortunately, there are clear data showing the translating jobs salary depending on the region. Let’s review such four major countries as the US, Spain, Russia, and India.

In the US, the average wage for professional translators comprises $48,314 per year. In Spain, there is a significant drop to $29,371, which might be explained by the country’s more limited opportunities as well as by the fact that Spanish is a popular language, meaning that competition is high. An average translator salary in Russia is $39,000: it is more than in Spain but it involves much bigger volumes of work. In contrast, Indian translators get only about $5,300 in one year, even if they hold the same qualifications as translators above. Such pay gaps often force people to relocate, making them move to the countries where they think their work will be appreciated more.

Top Three Best Paying Online Companies for Translators

We conducted research into what different firms pay their online translators since this sector is currently the most popular in the industry. It’s easier to hire people located right in Spain, Japan, Russia, etc. and then assign them to projects via the Internet, so many freelancers are choosing this option. So, how much does a translator make an hour on average when working online?

1) TheWordPoint. At the current moment, this firm is leading in almost every sector subjected to assessment. The money it pays its translators isn’t an exception. The average rate is $30 for an hour, which is almost the same as translators working in physical government offices make.

2) DayTranslations. This company specializes in a variety of services and is rather generous with its employees. Most of them earn about $24 per hour, and while it’s not the best rate, it’s one of the highest in the industry.

3) Language Line Solutions. The gap between what this agency pays its general and medical translators is wide. The former receive approximately $15 per hour while the latter can make about $28. According to the survey, many people consider it sufficient, which is why Language Line Solutions has many employees.

Study Hard and Find the Best-Paying Job in the Translation Industry

Do translators make good money? Can you make a living as a translator? Yes, of course, you can. The opportunities are there — just look at these numbers registered in 2019 by BLS that show how many positions are taken and how much money translators make.

how much money translators make

All you need is to learn how to access these possibilities. The more you improve your skills, the more clients will hire you; the more orders you complete successfully, the higher demand for your services will be, letting your reputation dictate your salary. Look for the best paying firms when you feel confident about your qualifications, undergo tests like the ones organized by ATA to become certified, and build a comfortable life you wanted.