Lowest Paying Translation Languages

Lowest Paying Translation Languages

A freelance translator’s work can be unpredictable. Landing a high paying translation job is desirable but also knowing about the low paying ones is important for comparison purposes. What determines the rates of translation from one language to another?

The main determining factor is demand. If the need for translators exceeds the available service providers, the pay for translating to these languages goes up. For example in the U.S, demand for translators in the following languages is very high and the pay for translators in their specific niche is correspondingly high.

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Danish
  • Arabic

On the other hand Italian and Portuguese translation jobs pay low rates. German, French and Spanish are somewhere in the middle but still pay decent rates. Other factors that will determine translation paying rates include:

  • Location and its economic status. People willing to work in dangerous locations such as war zones can earn many times more even in languages considered low paying in peaceful areas. This is due to the risk they are willing to take in such hostile places.
  • Experience
  • Established translators who do a great job benefit from referrals through their current or former clients
  • Speed and accuracy at translating
  • Type of translation field chosen. This is also referred to as areas of specialization. Medicine, pharmaceutical, business, ICT and legal translation tend to pay better than other more general fields. Entertainment, natural and pure sciences are also considered in this group.
  • Special needs translation. This includes sign language which needs special training to work in that area.


Why Italian and Portuguese Translations Pay Low Rates

The main reason is that the number of speakers of these languages is high in the U.S. For generations native speakers have increased to a point where the number of translators has naturally increased. Unlike the Asian and Middle East languages, there may be no major driving forces that increase the demand for translators in the two languages. Such demand-driven needs include:

  • Growing trade relations
  • Military activity

Demand for translators for specific languages can suddenly grow depending on political developments in far-off countries. The Somalia crisis or the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide saw a growth in the need for Kinyarwanda and Somali language translators.

Translating to a language such as Spanish can be a lucrative business. However, the competition is stiff and a new translator may take a while to be established. This would impact on the total amount earned in a given period of time. On the other hand, the pay may be low in another niche but landing a job in this area may be a good place to start if the work is consistent. This are among the many factors a translator considers.

All things being equal, some people have personal liking and may choose a lower paying job because they like that particular language. A job may also be well-paying but confines a translator to an office while they desire a freelancer’s lifestyle. This may force such a person to go for the low paying Italian or Portuguese translation jobs if that is what guarantees them that lifestyle.

A translator can be conversant with a high paying language but still earn low translation payments. How so? Language combination is the answer. Poor language combination generally means poor earnings. Having a college degree with a foreign language qualification can also determine how much you earn in translation services.

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