Belgian Translators Average EUR 0.10 to 0.13 per Word According to Inaugural Survey

In September 2018, the Belgian Chamber of Translators and Interpreters (CBTI-BKVT) published its first ever Translation and Interpreting in Belgium Market Survey Report. CBTI-BKVT President-Voorzitter Guillaume Deneufbourg told Slator via email that the organization intends to run the same survey on a regular basis every three to four years.

The survey polled 439 full- or part-time translators and interpreters with 92 questions over the course of 40 days. The sample size per question varied since respondents were not obligated to answer questions. Additionally, for some questions, only a certain demographic group of respondents were asked.

Rates, Specializations, and Satisfaction

The average monthly gross revenue for translators and interpreters in Belgium is EUR 3400.69 (USD 3,942.67) and EUR 3,796.87 (USD 4,401.99), respectively, the survey showed.

Aside from average monthly gross revenues for translators and interpreters, the survey also came to a few other key conclusions.

The average rates paid by translation agencies are EUR 0.0995 (USD 0.11) / word and EUR 39.09 (USD 45.27) / hour. In comparison, direct clients of translation pay EUR 0.13325 (USD 0.15) / word and EUR 54.68 (USD 63.32) / hour. Direct clients paid the highest for financial translation, while agencies paid more for scientific / medical translations.

For both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, agencies paid an average daily rate of EUR 487.50 (USD 564.72), while direct clients paid EUR 515.78 (USD 597.48).

Over half (53%) of translators surveyed were not satisfied with agency rates, and 12% were not satisfied with direct client rates. The survey concluded that interpreters were “generally satisfied” with direct client rates and “generally dissatisfied” with agency rates.

Languages and Technology Use

The survey found that the top three language pairs for translation were Dutch to French (28%), English to French,(19%), and French to Dutch (14%). French and Dutch were the first target languages for most respondents, at 51% and 27% respectively, followed by German and English at 7% both, and Spanish at 3%. First source languages were Dutch (32%), English (31%), French (23%), and German (10%), with Spanish, Russian, and Italian tied at 1% each, and Polish eking out 0.5%.

The top three language pairs for interpreting were English to French (22%), Dutch to French (16%), and French to Dutch (7%). French and Dutch were again the first target languages for most interpreters polled, at 40% and 26% respectively, followed by English (14%), Spanish (7%), and German (5%). French and English were tied as the first source languages for interpreting at 32% both, followed by Dutch (15%), German (9%), and Spanish (4%).

The survey included a section on language technology, and 77% of respondents confirmed that they used translation productivity (CAT) tools. 22% said they did not, and 1% answered that they did not know what CAT tools are.

Of the 22% who said they did not use CAT tools, 60% said they did not need them, while 26% said they simply did not know how. The remaining did not have a specific reason or did not know of them at all.

The top five CAT tools used by translators polled were:

  1. SDL Trados / SDL MultiTerm
  2. memoQ
  3. Wordfast (Pro or Anywhere)
  4. Memsource Cloud
  5. Omega T

Asked how often they offered machine translation and / or post-editing (MTPE) services, 41% of translators said they never used it and never will. The rest said they’ve used it before (24% sometimes and only 6% very often) or might use it in the future (29%).

Of the 41% who said they would not use or offer MTPE, 140 respondents said that the quality gap means it does not actually save time, and they think that MT will never be as good as human translation. 122 translators said that the quality was insufficient for their working field, while 114 said the quality was insufficient for their working language.

Interestingly, 82 respondents said the reason why they do not use MTPE was that they do not want to be replaced by robots, and 37 respondents said that they do not want their income to decrease. 56 translators said they just do not know how to use it and have never tried.