Profitability Guide for Translators

In addition to the article «Rentabilitätsberechnung im Dolmetscherberuf» ((Profitability guide for interpreters)) published in FORUM 1/2000, the article at hand tries to present existing material as well as its utilisation in a way that allows translators, who have no experience in business management, to use this helpful material as a rule of thumb for preparing professional decisions. The market analysis presented here, is from the perspective of freelancers working in the Federal Republic of Germany.

The countless responses we received indicated that no reliable price lists for linguistic services have been created to date.

Luis R. Cerna, German Association of Translators

In order to come up with figures that can be compared with other professions, it is necessary to convert usual rates per word/line/page into rates per hour. You will have to take into consideration however, that the calculated rate per hour is a virtual one. No professional translator will ever be able to exclusively charge by the hour.

A collective agreement for technical translators does not exist. Employees are grouped into the agreements used by the company in question or, if applicable, integrated into the specialised levels of the company’s collective agreements (usually into the rate of pay for commercial employees).

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They will offer cheap rates with only one goal in mind – stealing your shipment. Because once you hand over your cargo to the freight forwarder, you don’t have visibility of your cargo anymore till there is some documentary proof like a freight forwarder’s receipt or bill of lading after the shipment. You may often receive messages claiming to be from the freight forwarder your contracted informing you of changes in banking details and asking for the freight and other charges to be sent to that account. It is very possible that scammers have hacked your forwarder’s account or are phishing you to get the money into their account.


  1. A freight forwarder can be a person or a company which organizes and plans your shipment, as well as getting cargo from the point of origin to the destination point. They may not always move your cargo physically, but they do simplify the process by communicating with all the people and moving parts that are involved.

    1. Before accepting an order it is important to verify the reviews among other enterprises that cooperated with the contracting party. It can be done by means of transport exchanges or credit information agencies.

  2. You should know the normal shipping costs. Get multiple quotes from multiple freight forwarders which will give you an idea if the amount offered by the freight forwarder is legitimate or not. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If the prices are too low or too high, it may be the first sign of fraud.

    1. It is important to start with a careful verification of the company, e.g. in various registers or on the Internet, and contacting its representatives through a personally found e-mail address and landline telephone number.

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