Business and Ethics

Internet interaction principles from Seth Godin – 10 principles he published in September 2016. They are excellent guiding principles for all times.

The difference between employment and independent contracting

How independent contracting works for interpreters and translators in Oregon

Having a job description is essential. All pay rates are attached to well-defined job descriptions, besides having additional specializations, etc. Please refer to these role definitions for interpreters, translators translator-transcribers and terminologists, and send them to your clients. They have been endorsed by highly recognized professional associations. Helen Eby is listed as a member of the drafting and editorial team.

Why work with qualified and certified translators and interpreters? Check this OSTI document!

ATA submitted this response to the Department of Homeland Security’s Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Language Access Plan on November 14, 2014. It was downloaded from the ATA site on February 15, 2017. This is the link to the document on the ATA site. Helen Eby is listed as one of the authors on page 42.

OSTI submitted this document to our Oregon representatives in Washington, DC, in April of 2014. Helen Eby is listed as a member of the editorial team. It can be found on the OSTI site at this link.

What does a copy editor do? See this list of job descriptions from the Editorial Freelancers Association.

Keys to a sustainable interpreting and translation business for freelancers
Helen Eby has given this presentation at state and national conferences and believes these resources can help others set up a plan that leads to not going broke.

Due diligence links for translators, by Paula Gordon (dba Plan B)

Interpreting log for dual-role employees – a spreadsheet similar to what I use for other types of work.

Questions when dealing with a conundrum. Read this blog post that  Helen Eby wrote.

T&I Careers page from MIIS

Overview of the American Language Companies (ALC) 2015 survey of the industry, published on the ATA Interpreters Division blog with the permission of the ALC.

Useful Links page from NAJIT: includes links for court interpreter certification, state and local interpreter and translator sites, national information, and college programs for court and legal interpreters and translators. Check out this treasure trove!

Finding work:

Check this map to see where your language is spoken, and where it is taught. Then go to the ATA Chapters and Affilliates page and register with the local chapter that serves the locality where your language is spoken! You will be able to find your target market more easily this way. Many local associations will accept members from other areas.

How to start freelancing

Spreadsheets to help you establish a business case for a rate:

Helen Eby created a very simplified approach to evaluating her rates from a cost of doing business perspective before launching as a full-time translator and interpreter. Click on the following link to download the spreadsheet. Helen-Eby-rate-rationale

The American Translators Association has put together a spreadsheet to help translators and interpreters evaluate their rates from a cost of doing business perspective. Please click on the link to CalPro on this page (right after the explanation paragraph).

Negotiation is a very important part of life for a freelancer! Check “Negotiation – A Learnable Skill” in The Savvy Newcomer blog.  It may give you some helpful ideas on negotiating translation rates. Since 70% of interpreters also work in the translation field, this could be important.

There’s a great booklet by Jonathan Hine: “I Am Worth It!”. This book outlines the things to consider when you set rates as a freelancer. Check his online bookstore! It’s only about $6.

Before you accept work from a new language service company:

The BlueBoard is “a searchable database of language job outsourcers with feedback from service providers” and rates language companies according to respondents’ LWA (Likelihood to Work Again). It gives a rating of 1 to 5 for free, and if you become a Proz member you can have access to more details. Proz also offers training, access to terminology discussions, etc.

Payment Practices is  the oldest and most extensive dataset related to the payment practices of translation agencies and other consumers of translation services. It has a free trial for 7 days, and then a very low cost annual subscription.

Translator Scammers Directory: Linguists post information on known scammers

When I see get a phone call from a company, I immediately go online to check these two sites and comment on their ratings – or the lack of them. If the ratings are negative, I ask what they have done to correct the situation. This leads to very interesting conversations based on facts.

As a member of the translation and interpreting community, you can contribute to these lists. Be aware that often “new” language companies can be found by looking up their owners, who have previously owned other low-rated companies with other names. Ask what they have done to make changes in their new companies.

How not to get a job. There are things you can say that will look bad to potential employers. Conversely, knowing these things can improve your chances with a client.

Compensation and certification surveys

Court interpreting:

This website has been developed by Robert Joe Lee to create a point-in-time reference point for how the nation’s courts (in the Judicial Branch, not including administrative tribunals) compensate staff and contract interpreters who work in spoken languages. It is posted here with Robert Joe Lee’s permission.

When you click on this link, you will download a white paper on court interpreter certification in the United States.

Council 28 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) negotiated this union contract with the State of Washington for interpreting services rendered to Department of Social and Health Services clients and Medicaid enrollees.

Court interpreters represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA)  have negotiated these union contracts with the California Administrative Office of the Courts.


American Sign Language Interpreters represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) negotiated this union contract with Purple Communications, Inc.

Medical interpreting:

This link is the International Medical Interpreters Association Compensation Survey of 2010.

This link is the Massachussets Medical Interpreters Association Compensation Survey of 2006.

National Job Task Analysis Survey of Healthcare Interpreters, November 2016, by CCHI. Not a compensation survey, but a study of the state of the medical interpreting profession at that point in time.

ATA surveys:

Results of the May 2015 survey of the ATA Interpreters Division. This survey gives an overall picture of the profession, not necessarily a financial snapshot.

Summary Results of the 2014 ATA Compensation Survey. Full results are available for members only. This survey shows a $10,000 difference in annual income between certified and non-certified interpreters and translators.

Other associations:

2015 American Medical Writers Association Compensation Survey report. I included this because translation includes writing and there could be some crossover in these fields.

Editorial Freelancers Association list of common rates – includes translation.

ALC Presentation Overview of compensation to language professionals based on public sources, compiled compiled by Winnie Heh, MA, T&I, Career and Academic Advisor, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Link posted with author’s permission.
Note from the author: The data points contained on these slides are ‘descriptive’ rather than ‘prescriptive’ in nature in response to the request made by my students at MIIS.  They asked me to help them gain some perspective on the relative earning potentials of various language-related positions.  The data points are what I see in the public domain in the first half of 2016 rather than what I think should be.  The information in no way represents my view.  If you have additional insights you would like to share with me, please contact me at Thank you.


Gaucha Translations framework for translation and interpreting work with direct clients

These documents were prepared based on the ASTM standards for Interpreting and Translation, and are the basis for a conversation to determine the client’s needs. These specifications are developed jointly by the client and Gaucha Translations. Misunderstandings due to incomplete specifications are at the root of many problems between clients and language service providers.

Helen Eby, from Gaucha Translations, was the Technical Contact for the ASTM Subcommittee F43.03 on Language Translation that led to the publication of the revised Translation Standard,  F2575-14.

This PowerPoint is an overview of both the Interpreting and the Translation standards, including their legal implications and links to the ASTM download sites. Helen Eby has presented versions of this at ATA, ACES, OHA, and other venues.

Worksheets on translation and interpretation, based on ASTM Standards:

Other documents Helen Eby wrote or was involved in:

  • A previous version of the Gaucha Translations process and the GT Interpreting Specs  is quoted on pages 37, 40 and 41 of the American Translators Association response to the Department of Homeland Security Language Access Plans. Click here to see the ATA response to the DHS.
  • Gaucha Translations has a Change Log process, which we implement to track clarifications needed in a translation. In large projects, this is done in a dropbox that we share with the client.
  • GT developed this Style Guide for translation into Spanish to guide clients as they review Spanish translations. Style guide for translation into Spanish feb 10 2012
  • GT developed this guide for web page translation for clients. Web page translation

ATA guides for translation and interpreting contracting:

Medical interpreting and translation
This guide was developed by the American Translators Association and the National Council for Interpreters in Healthcare.
What’s in a Word? A guide to understanding interpreting and translation in health care

Title VI information:
LEP and Title VI videos from
Best Practice Recommendations for Hospital-Based Interpreter Services,  published by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Language Access and Civil Rights – a compilation of information by the Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters

The Justice Index 2016 by Cardozo Law School, which includes a language access survey. This is from the point of view of access to interpreting in the courts.  Oregon scores #5 on this list!

Ethics and Standards of Practice for medical interpreting:

TCii_Ethics and Standards
This document reflects the ethics taught in The Community Interpreter® International. They are completely consistent with the ethics developed by consensus in the ASTM Standard Practice for Language Interpreting F2089-15, where representatives from the medical interpreting field, the court interpreting field, the ASL interpreting field, AIIC (Conference interpreting), and interpreting trainers worked together with users of interpreting services to reach consensus on a standard for interpreting services. The goal is for the users of interpreting services to have communicative autonomy, to be empowered in their communication by the interpreter.

This document differs from the National Council ethics in that it does not teach interpreters to accept gifts (see gifts from patients, page 21) because today’s gift is tomorrow’s expectation. Neither does it promote advocacy by the interpreter (see ethics principle 7, page 19). This code of ethics is in accordance with Oregon Law ORS 413.550, in which the intent is the intent is to assure that persons with LEP get health care services that are based on accurate and complete information. (see Health Care interpreter Laws on this page).

Participants in The Community Interpreter® International learn about the NCIHC code of ethics to prepare them for both national healthcare certification exams. The NCIHC code is then compared to other codes of ethics for court interpreting, interpreting in workers compensation settings, or interpreting in the State of Washington. This allows participants to use the appropriate code applicable to each situation.

CLAS Standards

HIPAA for Covered Entities (Interpreters are covered by HIPPA)
HIPAA for Oregon Access – check the HIPAA materials. You can volunteer for these folks too!
HIPAA and Language Services in Health Care

Videos for discussion of ethics issues, published by the University of Glasgow

Upcoming trainings with the State of Oregon Workers Compensation Board for health care providers and their staff – click on the Interpreters button on this page.

Evolving views of the court interpreter’s role – an article by Holly Mikkelson
Addressing Language Access Issues in the Medical Practice – by Cindy Roat
Communicating through Healthcare Interpreters – by Cindy Roat

Medical interpreting codes of ethics:

Standards of Practice for medical interpreting:

Court interpreting:

Other codes:

Allied professions: (nurses, attorneys, etc.)



Other associations and listservs: