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Dear interpreting.info-community !

The following post was published and commented on today in a private, interpreting-related group on Facebook. The rate offered for this assignment was 250 €.

alt text

In our master‘s program in CI, we are constantly told about the professional standards that we are bound to apply later in our careers while at the same time being made aware of the difficulties of this career and how to commonly defend our interests and working conditions.

Personally, I found the assignment offer quite disturbing and unprofessionally presented on top of being unprofessional and unethical in itself, which is why I feel it was absolutely right of the colleague commenting to intervene so as to remind everybody of professional standards.

Do you ever remind colleagues about professional ethics? If so, how?

asked 02 Oct '13, 16:16

KaPe's gravatar image

KaPe
3994411

edited 02 Oct '13, 17:23

2

Please be careful when copying and pasting content from facebook closed groups. Thank you for having deleted at least part of the names.

(02 Oct '13, 17:08) Angela ♦
1

Thank you for that feedback! I just edited and deleted all of the mentioned names.

(02 Oct '13, 17:22) KaPe

"Ethics or professional standards aren't related to fees."

In the given case, the preparation previous to interpreting, the hours spent interpreting and the hours the same day probably not being able to accept other assignments would have been rewarded by a rate that is slightly lower than what a fast-food restaurant pays for it's (unqualified) employees.

To achieve 1.200€ net/month, you need 50.000€ gross a year, as Julia Böhm shows in her article on AIIC's website. At the rate offered in the case given as example by Karolin, you'd need to have 200 days of work a year to scrape that money together. You'd have to prepare the meetings and do some paperwork too, which brings us to about 400 days a year spent on assignments.

I'd tend to think that this would then impact the quality of the performance and thus professionalism, or only attract people who aren't very careful about the latter. And since the code of ethics provides that the recruiting interpreter shall thrive for professionalism and recruit colleagues who are able to commit to do the job, the economic factor somehow does seem to play an indirect role.

Certainly, there should be no illegal price fixing. Nevertheless, it's nice to have colleagues who know how much it actually costs to make a living and who, when they try to recruit the next man, won't try to go below a figure they (hopefully) wouldn't accept either (unless they can work 400 days a year).

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answered 02 Oct '13, 17:40

G%C3%A1sp%C3%A1r's gravatar image

Gáspár ♦
6.6k141829

So the real question is whether you can call yourself a professional interpreter and charge 250 EUR for a 2-hour sim job on the Paris market.

The answer is a firm NO.

First off, a 2-hour job is never a 2-hour job. Factor in the time it takes to get there and back. Also, a pro will do some preparation work - whether they've received docs or not, and that takes time. At any rate, with very few exceptions you will not be able to accept any other work that day. So we're essentially talking about 250 EUR / day.

Assuming you're lucky enough to get an average of 10-15 days a month and do some translation work in between you're looking at 3500-4000 EUR gross revenue. Deduct professional expenses, social security, taxes, etc and soon you'll realise you'll be better off as a multilingual PA or something.

Now, it helps to know what professionals charge. By professionals I mean interpreters who:

  • are trained conference interpreters
  • have been recognised as such by their peers
  • have stood the test of the market

AIIC runs a yearly workload surveys and here's what the 2012 edition tells us about sim rates on the French market (read Paris or Strasbourg, as there isn't much of a structured market elsewhere in France).

The survey asks about minimum, average and maximum rates for each interpreting mode (simul, consec, chuchotage). We know from past surveys that many interpreters will lower their fees somewhat for short assignments, and conversely up them for longer or more difficult jobs, and that's why we like to get 3 rate points instead of 1.

Here's what 70 freelancers reported for simul on the French market in 2012:

alt text

The line across the middle of the box is the median. Both sides of the box represent the interquartile range -- 50% of observations are within that box. The left and right whiskers are the absolute min and max respectively. Dots are outliers. More about how to interpret such a boxplot here.

Assuming that your job is short and easy and that short and easy jobs usually go with a rate mark-down, the median rate charged by professional interpreters in France in 2012 was 575 EUR. That is more than double the rate offered on that Facebook group.

Now, a couple of points are in order:

  • In France, as is the case on most other markets, rates charged tend to go up as a function of the number of days worked. The more an interpreter gets work, the more they charge. On average, the mark-up is slightly less than 50 EUR cents per additional day, as a simple linear regression shows. So on average and all things being equal, an interpreter working 100 days will charge 25 EUR more per assignment than a colleague doing 50 days.

  • Rates in France have been trending down for quite some time now. Compare with Germany across the border where the median minimum simul rate for 2012 was 720 (and each additional day of work is associated with a 1 EUR rate hike)

So the conclusion is:

  • There's no denying that rates are under pressure in France
  • You really can't charge by the hour if you're a conference interpreter
  • There's a minimum daily fee under which you cannot go if you want the market to pay your bills (and hope that the market will continue to sustain you as a professional)
  • The more successful a professional conference interpreter is, the more they'll tend to charge
permanent link

answered 09 Feb '14, 14:28

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck ♦♦
3.9k193350

edited 09 Feb '14, 14:29

Ethics or professional standards aren't related to fees.

Ethics involve many more things amongst which: confidentiality, collegiality, working conditions… see the Aiic code of professional ethics

One needs to be careful and not mix fees and ethics.

Fees in the private market are negotiated between parties according to their own criteria. And everyone is free to accept or to reject an offer. You can also read the answers to this other question on interpreting.info

http://interpreting.info/questions/991/london-rates-for-a-tr-a

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answered 02 Oct '13, 17:00

Marta%20Piera%20Marin's gravatar image

Marta Piera ... ♦
2.7k182850

Thank you for your comment and I do apologize for mixing the two up. We are being taught that accepting fair rates and adequate offers is part of the professional standards, which is why I related them.

(02 Oct '13, 17:04) KaPe

...as an American justice once famously said - about porn, methinks - "you know what it is when you see it" :-) ... which could be said about un-professional honoraria, ALL objective circumstances considered... wherein of course lies the rub, when one's looking for a universal yardstick, of which there's none.

The reasoning explained by Gaspar above, however, does help in coming to such a decision :-).

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answered 06 Oct '13, 08:10

msr's gravatar image

msr
4.6k6923

So the real question is whether you can call yourself a professional interpreter and charge 250 EUR for a 2-hour sim job on the Paris market.

The answer is a firm NO.

First off, a 2-hour job is never a 2-hour job. Factor in the time it takes to get there and back. Also, a pro will do some preparation work - whether they've received docs or not, and that takes time. At any rate, with very few exceptions you will not be able to accept any other work that day. So we're essentially talking about 250 EUR / day.

Assuming you're lucky enough to get an average of 10-15 days a month and do some translation work in between you're looking at 3500-4000 EUR gross revenue. Deduct professional expenses, social security, taxes, etc and soon you'll realise you'll be better off as a multilingual PA or something.

Now, it helps to know what professionals charge. By professionals I mean interpreters who:

  • are trained conference interpreters
  • have been recognised by their peers as such
  • have stood the test of the market

AIIC runs a yearly workload surveys and here's what the - as yet unpublished - 2012 edition tells us about sim rates on the French market (read Paris or Strasbourg, as there isn't much of a structured market elsewhere in France).

The survey asks about minimum, average and maximum rates for each interpreting mode (simul, consec, chuchotage). We know from past surveys that many interpreters will lower their fees somewhat for short assignments, and conversely up them for longer or more difficult jobs, and that's why we like to get 3 rate points instead of 1.

Here's what 70 freelancers reported for simul on the French market in 2012:

alt text

The line across the middle of the box is the median. Both sides of the box represent the interquartile range -- 50% of observations are within that box. The left and right whiskers are the absolute min and max respectively. Dots are outliers. More about how to interpret such a plot here.

Assuming that your job is short and easy and that short and easy jobs usually go with a rate mark-down, the median rate charged by professional interpreters in France in 2012 was 575 EUR. That is more than double the rate offered on that Facebook group.

Now, a couple of points are in order:

  • In France, as is the case on most other markets, rates charged tend to go up as a function of the number of days worked. The more an interpreter gets work, the more they charge. On average, the mark-up is slightly less than 50 EUR cents per additional day, as a simple linear regression shows. So on average and all things being equal, an interpreter working 100 days will charge 25 EUR more per assignment than a colleague doing 50 days.

  • Rates in France have been trending down for quite some time now. Compare with Germany across the border where the median minimum simul rate for 2012 was 720 (and each additional day of work is associated with a 1 EUR rate hike)

So the conclusion is:

  • There's no denying that rates are under pressure in France
  • You really can't charge by the hour if you're a conference interpreter
  • There's a minimum daily fee under which you cannot go if you want to pay your bills (and hope that the market will continue to sustain you over time as a professional interpreter)
  • The more successful a professional conference interpreter is, the more they'll tend to charge
permanent link

answered 03 Oct '13, 05:41

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck ♦♦
3.9k193350

edited 03 Oct '13, 05:45

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question asked: 02 Oct '13, 16:16

question was seen: 2,561 times

last updated: 09 Feb '14, 14:29

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