How to Set Your Rates as a Freelance Medical Interpreter

Updated on November 10, 2018
gerimcclym profile image

Geri McClymont has been working as a freelance medical interpreter since 2013 and obtained her certification through NBCMI in July 2015.

Your rates should take into account many factors, including your experience, training, education, as well as your time and traveling expenses.
Your rates should take into account many factors, including your experience, training, education, as well as your time and traveling expenses. | Source

If you're a medical interpreter just starting out as an independent contractor, otherwise known as a freelancer, and want to know how to decide what your rates should be, read on.

This article will equip you to set your rates with confidence and perspective by focusing on the following:

1. Deciding on your rates in advance

2. Basic factors to consider

3. Specific factors to consider

4. Creating a rate sheet (with sample)

5. Negotiating contract terms

6. How to stand out from your competitors

Have you ever agreed to rates you regretted after signing the contract?

See results

1. Decide on Your Rates in Advance

Most freelance medical interpreters are contracted by language agencies. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have a clear idea of what your rates will be before you sit down to sign a contract with any given agency.

Your rates should take into account many factors, including your experience, training, education, as well as your time and possibly traveling expenses. By not determining your rates in advance, you're setting yourself up for accepting rates you may later regret.

Keep in mind that once you sign a contract with an agency, you're bound to the rates on the contract for the duration of that contract, which is normally a year. Don’t make the mistake of winging it when you set your rates.

Click here for average hourly interpreter rates by U.S. state.


Decide what your rates will be before you sign a contract with a language agency.
Decide what your rates will be before you sign a contract with a language agency. | Source

2. Basic Factors to Consider

Take the following factors into account as you set your rates:

  • how much experience you have working as a medical interpreter
  • your level of education and training
  • whether or not you are a certified medical interpreter (CMI)
  • whether or not freelance interpreting is your primary source of income
  • the rates of other freelance medical interpreters with your credentials in your city and state

3. Specific Factors to Consider

Allow these specific questions to help guide you as you set your rates:

  • How much do you value your time?
  • Will you have a two-hour minimum charge per assignment to help cover travel time and expenses?
  • What days and hours will you be available to work?
  • Will you be available to work evenings, weekends, and holidays? If so, will your rates be higher for these times and days than your rates for your normal working hours?
  • Will you have prorated fees for your services before and after your contracted time? (For example, when a patient shows up early or the assignment lasts longer than the anticipated end time.)
  • Will you charge for the time between your arrival at each medical facility and the patient's appointment start time? (For example, when you arrive early for appointments.)
  • How much prior notice will you require for each assignment? Will you charge extra for assignments you accept with less than 24 hours’ notice?
  • What will your cancellation policy be? Will you request full payment for all assignments cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice?
  • Will gas and mileage be included in your rates?
  • Which of the factors listed above are negotiable and which aren’t?

4. Create a Rate Sheet

I strongly recommend creating a rate sheet in the form of a table, outlining your rates on it based on the factors listed above, and updating your rate sheet as needed.

A rate sheet provides you with a solid frame of reference when you negotiate and communicate with current clients and potential future clients, as well as when you send out your monthly invoices. It helps ensure accuracy, so you're less likely to overcharge your clients or shortchange yourself by charging less than you agreed upon.

Keep your rate sheet handy at all times and makes sure it's always current. For example, as you gain more experience as an interpreter, you may want to increase your rates.

Utilizing a rate sheet is a great stress-saver!

Sample Rate Sheet: On-Site Medical Interpreting English-Spanish

Service Details
Charge (US Dollars)
 
 
per hour / 2-hour minimum (7am–5pm)
$50 per hour / $100 minimum
 
 
24-hour cancellation policy
Full amount due if assignment is cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice
 
 
Assignment received with less than 24 hours’ notice
Additional 50% per hour
 
 
Evenings (5–9pm), Weekends, and Holidays
Additional 100% per hour
 
 
9pm–5am (if appointment goes over anticipated end time, such as in the case of surgery complications, etc.)
Additional 100% per hour
 
 
Minutes before or after the contracted time
Prorated
 
 
Gas & Mileage
Additional charge based on current IRS standard mileage rates
 
 

Click here for 2018 Standard Mileage Rates in the U.S. (from the IRS)

5. Negotiating Contract Terms

Be prepared to negotiate contract terms with agencies, as this is common and standard practice.

For example, an agency may tell you they won't agree to your two-hour minimum charge per assignment, or that they'll only prorate minutes once you reach five minutes beyond your contracted time per assignment.

On the other hand, the same agency may offer to pay double your usual rate for working evenings, weekends, and holidays. Or they may offer to pay some or all of your traveling expenses.

Anticipate some give and take, as this is part of the negotiating process. As an independent contractor, you decide which elements, if any, you're willing to compromise on. It's also clearly your decision whether or not you ultimately choose to sign a contract with any given agency.

Stand out from your competitors by becoming a certified medical interpreter (CMI).
Stand out from your competitors by becoming a certified medical interpreter (CMI). | Source

6. Stand Out from Your Competitors

To some degree, your rates will almost inevitably be influenced by what other freelance medical interpreters are currently charging in your city and state.

Agencies want to make as much profit from their direct clients (medical facilities) as possible, so if your rates are higher than most freelance medical interpreters in your city, you need to give agencies a strong reason to hire you over contractors who charge less. In other words, you need to distinguish yourself from your competitors.

How to stand out from your competitors:

1. Get yourself certified. As a certified medical interpreter (CMI), you demonstrate that you've met a higher standard than most medical interpreters.

2. Conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism. Review everything you learned in your medical interpreter training program. Follow the standards of conduct and code of ethics for medical interpreters to a tee. Unfortunately, failing to follow these is not uncommon among less experienced interpreters.

3. Present yourself as a professional. If you want to be treated like a professional, you need to dress like one. It's an embarrassment to the profession when interpreters show up for assignments dressed as if they're going to a night club. Invest in professional attire—it will enhance your credibility as an interpreter, give you confidence, and will likely result in more work.

Be aware that the medical facilities you're sent to by the agencies you're contracted by normally communicate directly with those agencies in regard to your performance. In many cases, agencies ask their direct clients to complete an evaluation form to rate your performance after each assignment. Make this work to your advantage by distinguishing yourself from your competitors!

In the end, you want to sign the contract with confidence.
In the end, you want to sign the contract with confidence. | Source

In the end, you may have to deviate from the rates you initially set for yourself, and that's okay, especially if it ends up working in your favor, such as lowering your rates but getting continual work with an agency. (In this case, if the company is pleased with your work, they may be glad to accept your higher rates the following year after you have had a chance to prove yourself.)

The main thing is to establish a baseline of your rates in advance, taking all factors into consideration, and to decide ahead of time which elements you're willing to negotiate on.

Remember that when it comes time to sign the contract with a language agency, you want to do so with confidence.


Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Geri McClymont

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • gerimcclym profile imageAUTHOR

        Geri McClymont 

        2 years ago

        Ron: It seems to be one of those niche professions many people don't know about. I'm glad you found it interesting and thanks for stopping by.

      • RonElFran profile image

        Ronald E Franklin 

        2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

        I'm never going to be a medical interpreter, but I enjoyed reading this. It's an interesting look at a profession that, frankly, I never before knew was a profession.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)