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2020.05.25

Patent translation

How much does a patent translator in Japan make?


If you are considering the profession of patent translator, you probably want to know how much money you can make. The income of a patent translator can vary a lot depending on whether they work as a freelancer or are employed in a translation company or a patent firm and on the amount of work they can handle. Here we would like to give you a short overview of what is possible.

Do you want to be a freelancer or an employee?

Most patent translators either work as a freelance or as an employee at a translation company or a patent firm. When working as a freelancer your income depends on the translation rate you charge and the amount of work you finish. Translation companies have different forms of salary structures. Some pay a monthly salary no matter how much a translator translated, others pay a base salary and an additional commission based on the amount of translation work done.

Average income of patent translator working at translation companies or patent firms

In Japan, the average salary for patent translators that just started working is about 3.000.000 million yen per year. Experienced translators can make up to 6.000.000 Yen. As an employed translator in Japan, the company will pay half of your insurance and pension fees. Also, you will not have to worry about the cost of your work equipment or translation assistance software.

When working for a translation company you can focus on the actual translation work. Acquisition of clients, correspondence with clients, invoicing etc. will usually be handled by other employees.

Average income of patent translators working as a freelancer

When working as a freelancer your income can vary a lot depending on your rate, the languages you translate, working hours, translation speed etc.

The average rate a freelancer in Japan receives for patent translations from English to Japanese is 7 Yen per word, for German to Japanese, it is 10 Yen per word. Rates can differ depending on the type of work and skill of the translator.

An income of 10.000.000 Yen per year is not impossible. As a freelancer, you are not restricted by company working hours and can work as much as you want. The more you work and the faster you work the higher your income will be. On the other hand, if you decide to take a few days off, you will not make any money during that time. There is no paid vacation for freelancers. Also, if nobody orders your translation you won’t make any money either.

Especially if you just started out you will have to factor in the time required for acquiring new clients, networking, marketing yourself on the internet and social media etc.

Also, don’t forget that as a freelancer you might have to pay higher fees for insurance and pension compared to an employee and will also have to bear the cost for your work equipment.

In case you get sick and can’t work for a longer period in Japan the national health insurance does not pay a sick allowance to self-employed workers. You will need more savings or private insurances to cover up for such times as well.

As you can see you make a decent income as an employed patent translator and quite a good income as a freelance patent translator if you are willing to put a lot of effort and time into it. Working as a freelancer is always associated with certain risks, whether you are willing to take them is up to you.


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