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I'm going on a interview next week for a French medical interpreter position in Sydney, Australia.

I could either be employed by the hospital (casual employee) or work as an individual contractor. They'll probably ask me about my "expected hourly rate" and honestly I have no idea!

I'm not an official interpreter (non NAATI accredited) but they're interested because I'm French and I've been working as a healthcare professional (physio and remedial massage therapist) for over 11 years including 3 years here in Sydney.

Any idea about the hourly rate as a casual employee and contractor?

Many thanks!

asked 20 Feb '16, 01:06

virginie0410's gravatar image


Dear Virginie,

I am writing to you on behalf of the AUSIT Ethics and Professional Practice Committee. One of our aims is to educate the public about the profession and to promote the use of qualified interpreters and translators.

First of all, while JuliaP mentioned the necessity of contacting colleagues in Australia through NAATI, I feel the need to clarify: NAATI, or the National Accreditation Authority for Translators & Interpreters is solely an accreditation body, not a professional association of translators and interpreters. AUSIT, or the Australian Institute of Interpreters & Translators, is the largest professional association of translators and interpreters in Australia. The AUSIT Code of Ethics has also been endorsed by NAATI and all government bodies.

NAATI maintains an online directory of accredited translators, showing their contact details; as an organisation, it cannot, however, assist you in any other way in contacting colleagues in Australia. AUSIT, on the other hand, is well placed to assist you in this regard. In addition to maintaining an online directory of practitioners, it organises regular Professional Development activities and fosters contact and mutual support through its various online forums, both general and language-specific in their focus.

Furthermore, while interpreters do need linguistic knowledge, this in itself is far from the only skill interpreters need. Being able to speak two languages is a minimum requirement for entry to training--not proof in itself of interpreting skill. Field-specific knowledge, such as of medicine and allied health fields, is certainly helpful, but it is ultimately useless without proper interpreter training.

Interpreters need training to ensure they understand their role, are capable of professional judgement, have a deep understanding of ethics and have developed techniques for linguistic transfer, including exercises on memory, note-taking and attention.

We encourage you to contact AUSIT for further information, and we would be happy to direct you to several institutions that offer training to interpreters should you still be interested in joining the profession. We thank you for your interest in this matter.

Best regards,

Jonathan Beagley

Member of the AUSIT Ethics & Professional Practice Committee

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answered 13 Apr '16, 03:20

jbeagley's gravatar image


edited 13 Apr '16, 03:22


Hi Jonathan, Thank you for correcting me on the appropriate organization to contact in Australia. It is valuable information for anyone interested in the Australian market!

(13 Apr '16, 04:51) JuliaP

Dear Virginie,

I'm afraid this would be difficult for anyone to answer who doesn't live in Australia. I have worked in the US and various other countries, and rates vary greatly from one country and one market to another. What colleagues have earned in US hospitals differed greatly from what I earned at conferences in the US, and would be very different from what colleagues in hospitals in other countries earn.

There are two things I could recommend: one is to get in touch with NAATI colleagues and ask them for their advice. You may find out that rates your colleagues have been paid in the past are not what you expected, and it won't be worth your while. It may be that the employee vs the hourly worker scenarios will give different constraints and benefits that you would have to consider for your personal situation. You should maybe also consult an accountant to find out which scenario would be better for you.

The other thing I would recommend is reading this article by Julia Boehm. It targets conference interpreters, but it includes all the things you would have to consider when you get paid for a job: how much you will have to pay in taxes, medical insurance, rent, retirement, etc. etc., and how much time you will need to prepare for work. It may not be completely for your situation, but it will help you calculate what kind of rate you should be asking for if you want to earn a living wage rather than just earn some money.

All that being said, there is a reason NAATI exists. The fact that you have worked in the medical world and are French with good English doesn't make you a trained interpreter, who understands all the implications of interpreting for someone in a potentially life-threatening environment. Are you able to ensure that whatever you do will help the patient, that you know enough about what the stakes are to be able to ensure that the medications recommended will not be contraindicated in the patient's specific circumstances, that advice is followed appropriately? Do you know what to do when a patient starts accusing you for their own mistakes, and what is actionable? All of this requires certain training, which is one of the reasons NAATI exists. So please keep this in mind!

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answered 20 Feb '16, 20:03

JuliaP's gravatar image


edited 21 Feb '16, 12:23

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question asked: 20 Feb '16, 01:06

question was seen: 3,153 times

last updated: 13 Apr '16, 04:51 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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