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Interpreter Fees:  "Minimum Per Class?"

By Lynda Park
(Your Interpreting Maven)

In a message dated 1/11/2007 10:01:41 AM Pacific Standard Time, an interpreter @ writes:

Dear Lynda,
I work at a state university and have for a year. disability support services (dss) has a secretary that is telling me that she does not agree with the way i am charging my fees. the student has 3 separate 1 hour classes on m,w,and fr. the way i have always understood it was that each class is viewed as a separate entity. i charge the minimum 2 hour fee per class. she tells me she does not agree with that and i should be charging my hourly fee and it totals to 3 hours. Can you please give me your input on this matter?
Julie M. 

Hi Julie,

If you work as a freelance interpreter, you have the right to establish your own fees, and the entity paying for your services has the option to accept your terms or reject your offer and hire another source. Best practice would be to establish a fair and agreeable arrangement between both parties while shining an honorable light on our interpreting profession.

The 3 separate classes you referred to appear to be consecutive. I would charge my time from the start of the first class until the end of the last class (example: 10 am- 1 pm). The assignment would be considered "one call" of 3 hours at the university.

If the classes were not consecutive and separated by several hours (ex: first class at 10 am, next class at 2 pm, final class at 6 pm), I would likely charge a 2 hr. minimum per class. The reason for this is that my ability to secure other income during the hours of 11 am-2 pm and 3 pm-6 pm is limited by very small windows of opportunity.

If only a short time remains between classes, such as a class ending at 11 am and the next class beginning at 11:45 am, it would be reasonable to keep the clock running and be available for any interpreting services if needed during the intermittent period.

So-- while not the answer you may have been looking for, keep in mind that your services as an interpreter may become more valuable when you are seen as an easy person to work with, thus securing more work for yourself in the long run.