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April 10, 2019 |

5 Things You Should Know About the Highest Paying Translation Services

Are you looking to hire a translator, but worrying about the budget? Or do you want to become a translator hoping to hit the jackpot by working from home? The rumors and myths about the highest paying translation services can lure many specialists in–and also scare potential clients away.

The truth is that the income in translation can vary depending on many things. These include the language pair, the type of translation services requested (medical, legal, juridical, technical, financial, business, or literary), translation speed, the translator’s geographical location, and the type of documents involved.

If you’re interested in an interpreter’s salary, you can expect a different payment. Interpreters charge by the hour, not by the number of translated words.

Despite all these variables, some details can help you to get an idea about the highest paying translation services and how much a translator can earn.

1. There Are Huge Pay Gaps Between Countries

In 2018, the language services industry reached a market size of $45 billion worldwide. However, profits aren’t equally spread around the globe. As you might imagine, there’s a pay gap between translators and language specialists from different countries.

A translator in Germany, for instance, earns between 19,000 and 45,000 euros a year ($21,000 to 50,000). On the other hand, in India, translators earn a lot less, with an annual income that starts at Rs 181,084 (a little more over $2,600) and rarely goes above Rs 938,208 ($13,500).

In the U.S., the average salary of a translator is $19.67/hour. However, many language experts earn at least three times the average wage, depending on their skills and area of expertise. A translator or interpreter who is also certified by the American Translators Association can make more than $66/hour.  

2. Some Language Combinations Earn More than Others

Among the criteria for the highest paying translation services, the language pair is one of the most important.

As with all other markets, it’s all about demand and supply for each language pair. The more translators working with a language combination, the lower the price for the services. At the same time, low demand for a language pair keeps prices moderate, even when the number of available translators is small.

Among the language combinations with the highest rate, there are Finnish-to-English, Japanese-to-English, Danish-to-English, English-to-Arabic, and English-to-Japanese.

This is due to a low number of language specialists available and a relatively high demand for language services.

Other languages related to the highest paying translation services are German, French, Russian, and Simplified Chinese (Mandarin). In these cases, we’re usually talking about languages of commerce and business, areas in which language services are expensive.

Spanish and Italian are other two languages that can bring translators consistent income–even though the rates per word are low for all combinations between these languages and English. However, the demand for these languages is high enough to provide consistent work for translators and interpreters in multiple industries.

3. Flat Fees Are Common for Asian Languages

For languages like Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean it’s hard to talk about word count. In this context, prices per word or page make little to no sense for translators.

Calculating payment for translation projects from or into those languages should consider other elements. When translating into these languages, for example, you can calculate pay based on the word count of the source text.

On the other hand, for Chinese translations, Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese, you can either consider source characters (or lines) or agree on a flat fee, depending on the volume or quantity of work necessary to complete the project.

4. Literary Translators Provide the Highest Paying Translation Services

As for types of translation services, the highest paying jobs are for literary translators–who earn an average of $51,000 a year. Most probably, that’s because literature is considered the most challenging content to rewrite in a different language.

Literary translators work with poetry, long novels, journals, and other forms of literature. Their mission is to counter language barriers and make works of art available to large audiences worldwide.

Literary translations are interpretative acts that require creativity and empathy. Translators go through the original creation to understand the messages and meanings hidden behind what may seem like a random choice of words.

They identify what’s important and make choices about the elements that should be preserved to keep the meaning of the text.

Other types of translations that pay high rates are medical and judiciary, both due to the high level of accuracy required. Generally, translators in this field are subject matter experts in related domains, with in-depth knowledge of specific terminology and regulations.

Jobs related to localization pay reasonably well, thanks to an increased demand for localization services across multiple industries.

As more companies go global, they need language specialists and localization engineers to consolidate their global market shares. Most of these companies are willing to pay reasonable rates to achieve high-quality standards in translation.   

5. Simultaneous Interpreters Earn the Big Money

The highest paying jobs don’t belong to translators. Simultaneous interpreters are the best paid in the language service industry. That’s because it is the hardest job.

Simultaneous interpreting requires excellent communication skills and perfect language abilities. An interpreter listens in one language, translates, and then transmits the message into the second language.

The second and third actions occur while the interpreter continues to listen to the speaker. They don’t interrupt the message and rarely leave time for the interpreter to translate.

As simultaneous interpreters are meant to facilitate dialogue between two foreign parties, they should have the highest knowledge of both languages in the pair.

The Highest Paying Translation Services

As you can see, there are many high paying translator jobs, for multiple language pairs and industries.

Regardless of the amount they pay, translation jobs require many skills and excellent knowledge of the language pair. The better translators become, the higher the rates because they can take on more demanding jobs that are also more rewarding.