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I am looking to be interpreting for a high adventure company in Utah and I will be interpreting from Korean to English and vice-versa. I will spend an entire week with the group with one week of rest in between trips. I will have my accommodation and food paid for while on the trip. I will be working as a private contractor (1099). I will be participating in every event the company owners are involved in and possibly in helping individuals when they take time to shop/adventure during rest hours. What would be a fair price to charge? (I have a degree in Korean studies, I have lived and studied in Korea for three years, I deal with Korean almost on a daily basis, I have passed tests at near native level, and I have had exposure to Korea and Korean for over 9 years now). Also, what other factors do you need to know to help answer my question more accurately? Thank you for your time and responses.

asked 24 Aug '16, 17:38

mrgrange's gravatar image


The nature of most activities also centers around traveling with the group, even on hiking events and possibly canyoneering. The groups look as though they will be from 6-10 people, all of which are paying around $17,000 USD + for the week long trip and a final day in LA before returning home. I was given the range of $750 to $1000 for the 7 days I will be accompanying them with (one day at a resort I may not need to assist in interpreting for the group but I would effectively be required to remain on site so as to be ready to interpret for the following day). This price range seems drastically low. Can anyone give any further input? Thanks again to previous comments.

(30 Aug '16, 17:00) mrgrange

If you haven't already you might want to consider getting some post-graduate training in Conference Interpreting. The KO-EN market is a very healthy one, in Korea and elsewhere and if you are EN A with a good KO B then you are a rarity and could potentially make a good living.

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answered 27 Aug '16, 15:00

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all of which are paying around $17,000 USD + for the week long trip and a final day in LA before returning home. I was given the range of $750 to $1000 for the 7 days I will be accompanying them with (one day at a resort I may not need to assist in interpreting for the group but I would effectively be required to remain on site so as to be ready to interpret for the following day). This price range seems drastically low.

It is indeed! 168 hours you're not free to be where you want to, with the people you want to, doing what you want to. That's $6 gross per hour of freedom lost. McDonalds pays more.

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answered 30 Aug '16, 17:56

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Gaspar ♦♦

Hello! I haven't done any adventure interpreting, but have had my share of travel jobs for the Office of Language Services at the State Department where I accompanied groups traveling around the US studying a particular topic (television in the US, laws on religion, defense conversion), meeting with industry experts and hearing about how that topic works and how it compares with the visitors' country. On rest days we would visit farms, Disneyland, shopping malls... If we were interpreting the meetings, we would get the rate for what was called seminar interpreting; if not, but we were still available to the group to help them understand our culture, to take them to dinner, etc., we would get the liaison rate. Travel days would be paid at full day rates. In all cases, we would get a per diem to cover accommodation, food and incidentals. The reason I mention the per diem is that, if we didn't use it up it was considered income and added a certain amount to our paycheck at the end of the job. Most of these jobs lasted 3-4 weeks, though sometimes only one.

While the State Department doesn't like to be used as a benchmark, as it has thousands of Interpreter days per year it does tend to set market rates. Nowadays, the rates for a liaison Interpreter are somewhere above $225/day, and seminar days I think are above $350/day, though I am not certain what they are anymore as I no longer work on these jobs. Maybe someone on the current roster could fill in the numbers.

This doesn’t sound like a lot, but for 30 days at a time, working not the most onerous hours, and not at the conference interpreting level, and several jobs a year, you made a decent living, even at these discounted rates. However, one Interpreter would be hired for up to 3 people; for 6-10 people we would have a team of three interpreters. Remember, with just one foreign language speaker, you could still be working non-stop for up to 16 hours a day. Keep in mind that as the interpreter, I was never expected to go running with my client, or hiking, or anything beyond taking them to dinner or shopping.

All this to say that you should find out exactly what they need you for. And use objective benchmarks to say that you are worth at least x amount per day under these particular conditions.

As Andy says, study interpreting so you can start working as a conference interpreter. Comparable rates in the US can be anywhere from $650-$1200, depending on your language combination, and how few qualified interpreters there are available to do the work. And it won't involve quite so much physical exercise - though the mental exercise will certainly be tiring!

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answered 04 Sep '16, 18:54

JuliaP's gravatar image


Thank you so much for your response. Maybe I should be looking into what you were involved in. I think I will make better money that way. The rate that they were talking about sounds horrendously low and I think it is due to the Korean company contracting out to this American company not putting value on the interpreter. Or perhaps it is just the US company. But they are rqther new to this. Thabk you again.

(04 Sep '16, 19:09) mrgrange

Why not bid on the job anyway, but explain why you want what you want. You probably won't get the job, but it only takes a little effort on your part to come up with arguments and a proposal (that can be then re-tailored for the next time) and it helps to educate the client on what realistic rates an interpreter should want, and what kind of value an interpreter can bring. They obviously just want a KOR speaking employee to make sure no one breaks a leg, rather than an interpreter, but it doesn't hurt to increase everyone's level of knowledge. Otherwise interpreters will never be able to expand their market beyond those clients who already use their services.

(05 Sep '16, 05:40) JuliaP

According to AIIC's 2012 annual survey, the average daily rate charged by the respondents in the US was above 600 EUR.

A few articles explain why the services come at a high price and how the daily rates are calculated:

In a nutshell, your price will depend on supply and demand, and what you bring to the table.

Usually, travel days are billed too, as you won't be free to do whatever you want, but do need to get from point A to point B, for your client's needs.

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answered 24 Aug '16, 20:10

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Gaspar ♦♦

Thank you very much for your prompt response. Though many factors will go into the calculation, I will look to build value in the Employer's eyes and show them how I can be of good service to them. You're awesome. That was a lot of reading material but well worth the read.

(25 Aug '16, 12:29) mrgrange
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question asked: 24 Aug '16, 17:38

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last updated: 05 Sep '16, 05:40 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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