How Much Do Translators Make? A Detailed Guide

Are you considering starting a career in translation and wish to know how much translators make? Well, how much you make as a translator is based on many factors – these include the language pair, translation niche (like legal, medical, business, technical, financial services), translation speed, type of document, and translator’s country of location.

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So, if you are good in two or more languages – with the ability to translate a written text from one language to another; your job prospects are high, especially in the United States of America. 

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According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, over 76,000 translation jobs were added and projected growth of 19 percent is anticipated between 2022 and 2028 with no visible sign of slowing down – this is something to cheer about, isn’t it?

As mentioned earlier, how much you make as a translator depends on a couple of factors. Let’s consider them below.

Factors That Determine How Much A Translator Makes

The following factors determine the earning variables of a translator;

Direction And Language Pair

These two work hand in hand – the direction has to do with the translation from one language to another. For instance, translating from Chinese to English is more valuable than translating from English to Chinese; this is because there are fewer English speakers good in Chinese than there are Chinese speakers proficient in the English language.

Also, translators for languages like French and German are in high demand with loads of professionals around to do the job. Therefore, for languages where demand is more than supply (such as translators for Vietnamese), they tend to earn more.

Expertise, Experience, And Education

These 3Es are also factors in determining how much translators make. Experienced translators usually charge more than a beginner. Also, your level of education could play a role in how much you make as a translator – most of the big salary jobs require at least a Bachelor’s degree, even though it is not compulsory to have a degree before landing a translation job.

Certifications And Training

Most employers want some level of certifications and specialized training (though this is again not mandatory to get translation job offers). However, certification may increase your prospects and earning potential. Those certified by the American Translator Association earn as high as $54,000 per year according to PayScale.

Specialization

This is another factor that affects how much a translator makes. Not all translation requires the translator to major in certain fields but it’s compulsory for some others. For example, in medical translation – translators are expected to be knowledgeable about the medical profession and the same applies to legal translation services.

So, translators with specialized skills charge a higher rate than those working in the general niche.

How Much Do Translators Make A Year

Averagely, a translator earns about $52,330 annually but this can be as high as $72,630 based on the factors listed above or could be as low as $38,410.

Besides, freelance translators are known to charge hourly or per word count for their services while the in-house translator is based on particular wages or salary.

How Much Do Translators Make An Hour

Currently, the hourly pay for a translator in the United States is put at $28.90. This could range from $12.98 (for entry-level translators) to $31.97 (for experienced translators). This range is a result of some factors like experience, expertise, certifications, and others.

How Much Do Translators Make Per Word

When starting as a newbie, it is important to set a competitive price so that clients can be attracted. A translator can make from $0.04 to $0.008 per word

How Much Translators Make By Country

photo of a translator; find out how much translators make

How Much Do Translators Make in the UK

On average, according to Indeed, a translator can earn from £18,000 to £21,000 per annum in the UK. Whereas, the more experienced ones can expect to earn as high as £40,000

Check below for expected annual salary by cities:

  • Manchester – £25,725
  • Gerrards Cross – £26,515
  • London – £29,981
  • Cardiff – £30,119
  • Cambridge – £35,629

How Much Do Translators Make In Canada

In Canada, according to Talent, the average salary of a translator is $27.54 hourly which translates into $53,703 per year. However, for entry-level – they could earn from $40,833 while the experienced and very proficient ones can even earn as high as $74,045.

Check below for expected annual salary by region:

  • Quebec – $42,500
  • British Columbia – 53,684
  • Ontario – $59,500

How Much Do Translators Make In Japan

So, the average pay for a translator in Japan is 489,000 JPY monthly. However, this can range from 259,000 JPY (for entry-level) to 743,000 JPY (for the more experienced translators).

Check below for expected monthly salary by region:

  • Saitama – 426,000 JPY
  • Hiroshima – 427,000 JPY
  • Sendai – 428,000 JPY
  • Kobe – 455,000 JPY
  • Fukuoka – 488,000 JPY

How Much Do Translators Make In California

The table below explains the yearly salary scale for translators in California;

LevelSalary
Entry$28,728
Junior$31,632
Mid-level$39,435
Senior-level$58,304
Top-level$99,260

Check below for expected yearly salary by region:

  • Los Angeles – $67,789
  • Sacramento – $75,552
  • San Diego – $86,492
  • Anaheim – $86,783
  • San Francisco – $173,581

How Much Do Translators Make In Korea

In South Korea, a translator can earn an average of KRW 37,384,513 annually (KRW 17,973 per hour). However, this can range from KRW 27,410,031 (for entry-level) to KRW 46,027,444 (for the experienced level).

How Much Do Translators Make In Court?

Court translator translates from one language to another during court proceedings. They could either work as a full-time employee or freelance basis but on average – a court translator is expected to earn $47,190 per year.

However, this can range from $25,620 to $82,290 or even more depending on the education and expertise of the translator.

How Much Translators Make By Language

German Translation:

This is one of the highest-paying translation languages. There is always a high demand for German translation and this is expected to increase constantly.

Averagely, a German translator in the United States is expected to earn up to $50,000. German translation is arguably one of the languages that offer the highest paid translator salary.

French Translation:

France being one of the largest world economies having the headquarters of the European Union, NATO, International Olympic Committee, and International Red Cross is also one of the languages with the highest translator’s salary.

So averagely, a translator can make up to $19.49 per hour offering French translation services.

Arabic Translation:

The Arabic translation service has also been on the increase over the last couple of years. According to the American Translators Association – the average earning of an Arabic translator is fixed at 19 cents per word. This also makes it one of the highest-paying translation languages.

Chinese Translation:

Mandarin is also regarded as one of the highest-paying translation languages due to the global expansion of China across the world. So, this global expansion has brought about a tremendous increase in the salary of Chinese translators.

Therefore, a Chinese translator can earn a whopping $74.92 every hour – making it highly sought after as one of the well-paying translation services.

How Much Translators Make By Niche

Medicine:

Translators in medicine usually charge by the word count of the original document. Averagely, a medical translator can earn from $0.12 to $0.40 per word. So, you should make from $30 to $150 hourly translating medical texts.

Law:

This is often done at an hourly rate, per word, or per-page basis. So, legal translators are expected to earn from $0.07 to $0.35 per word. On an hourly basis, it can be from $20 to as high as $100. Also, these charges can even go higher depending on the language complexity – for example, translating Chinese or Spanish legal documents.

Business:

A business document translator is expected to earn a base pay of between $15 to $30 per hour. This fee can even be higher based on expertise, nature of the document, language pair, and some other factors.

Finance:

For entry-level financial translators (between 1 to 3 years), you can earn up to $2,000 monthly while the mid-level translators are expected to earn up to $6,500 and the experienced translators can go as high as $7,500 monthly.

Interestingly, the income of a financial translator is usually 25 percent more than other translation niches like business, marketing, and others.

Final Thoughts

Hope you have gained some insights into how much translators make. The salary earned by translators is usually not the same and this could be attributed to some or all of the factors highlighted above.

So, if you want to earn higher – get specialized skills, be certified, and focus on languages where the demand is higher than the available translators on the ground (like Arabic and Chinese).

Lily & The FBM Team
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