Going rate for typing tapescript?

A company I’ve previously edited for has asked that I listen to an English recording and type what is being said. They say it will take about 3 to 4 hours to complete a 1 hour tape. Content is some sort of speech that was given. It sounds rather mindless, but money is money. Only problem, I don’t know what to charge and they don’t know what the going rate is for a foreigner to do this (yeah right…) They say they used to have a Taiwanese worker do this, but now want a foreigner, for whatever reason. According to them, they paid him/her a rather low amount for this.

Anyone have experience with this?

I have a good relationship with them. They pay promptly to my bank account (although on the 23rd…?) Seems there will only be this one (1 hour) case…but sounds like there will periodically be more.


Okay…they “want” a foreigner because they need one; the Taiwanese colleague was not able to make out what was being said on the tape accurately enough.

In the West, you could probably get $3 to $4 per typed 25-line double-spaced page of English text for doing general transcription. But you are not in the West; you’re in Taiwan, where native speakers who can type reasonably quickly and who have accurate spelling and grammar and so on are at a premium. US$3 is about NT$90+, let’s call it NT$100 per page for the sake of easier math.

A 25 line page is usually about 1 minute of tape (give or take, obviously, depending on speed, etc.) So at the very least, if you did this job for less than NT$100 x 60 minutes of tape or NT$6000 I think you would be severely underpricing yourself, and in fairness you probably deserve a higher rate because, well, if they don’t like you to earn that much money, get someone else…oh, there isn’t anyone else, is there? (Not very many, anyway.)

Six hours of work at NT$1000 per hour, if you call it NT$6000. Given that you’ve pretty much got them where you want them, if you can come up with some “good reason” (academic credentials, experience, something) you might bump it up to NT$9000 for NT$1500 per hour. Just my thoughts.

Remember, though, that there is definitely no point in doing this job for less than you could make fresh off a plane standing in front of a roomful of children saying “Apple…Banana…Carrot”. I would always compare what you’re making with the rates you could command doing other things in Taiwan (usually teaching English). A one-on-one would be paying between NT$800 and NT$1000 per hour, right? So it’s up to you which you’d prefer: typing or teaching for an hour.

On the other hand, you could email it to a transcription company in America (or wherever) who will charge you the going rate in a place where this sort of thing is cheap, and then charge the company the Taiwan premium rate. I’ll bet the company tried that but the tape is so unintelligible that it needs translatification first. You need to hear the tape first before pricing the job. If it is actually on a cassette tape, do you have a foot-operated tape player? If not your typing speed will be very low. Another consideration.

I do these sometimes and charge by the hour @NT$1,500/hour. That way you can pad the number of hours (oh my goodness, did I really say that? :laughing: ). I would NEVER agree to a per-page price.

I did some before for I think 90nt/min of tape time. It was boring as hell, recorded lectures on medical stuff…plus the speakers all had very strange accents.

Took me about 5-6 minutes to type one minute though. But that still comes to like 1000 per hour or something.

A company before that paid 1000 per tape. I accepted it, thinking it’d be easy money, but ha! I only did one for them, needless to say.

A 60 minute recording is likely to take A HELL OF A LOT LONGER THAN 3 OR 4 HOURS to transcribe. When grad students in applied linguistics at HKU are paid to transcribe stuff, it is assumed that they will need at least 30 minutes to transcribe each minute of recorded conversation. That includes listening and checking what has been transcribed. Speeches would obviously take less time because you don’t have to follow all the twists and turns that a conversation can take., but you are still probably looking at about 15 to 20 minutes for every minute of recorded speech. Keep in mind that transcribers often use specialized software to make it easy to start, stop and amplify the speech they are trying to transcribe. Transcription, while not something that will make a transcriber rich, is not something that should be gotten for pennies, either.

that seems like a long time. i had to transcribe my master’s thesis interviews, and each hour took about 3-4 hours (and there were 50 hours total :help: ). maybe it was easier because i had been part of the conversation, and had notes to refer to as well.

do a net search for a decent program if it’s a digital recording - there are lots of free ones available.

[quote=“xtrain”]that seems like a long time. I had to transcribe my master’s thesis interviews, and each hour took about 3-4 hours (and there were 50 hours total :help: ). maybe it was easier because I had been part of the conversation, and had notes to refer to as well.

That would definitely speed it up. 30 minutes per minute of conversation would be completely natural conversation that you’re not participating in. Plenty of stuff can be much quicker. I recently transcribed 16 six minute long telepone conversation recordings that students did for a speaking assessment. Well, some students didn’t speak for the full six minutes. Because it was a controlled task in which the candidates roles and tasks were defined for them, their speech was fairly predictable; there were absolutely no twists or turns in the conversations. It ended up taking me about 40 minutes to transcribe and check each conversation. I figure a speech could be a good bit more difficult, especially if it’s on an uncommon topic.

I worked as a verbatim transcriptionist for the US Supreme Court for awhile back when I had just gotten started as a translator and couldn’t make it on my translation income. :frowning:

Generally I would figure about 1.5:1, but I am an unusually fast typist (about 120 wpm) and I was working with a standard transcription machine with foot pedal which I had adjusted to just the right settings for me after considerable trial and error.

The applied linguistics students doing transcripts are probably being paid to do “narrow transcription” which includes other linguistic features of conversation or phonetics (I’ve done my share of those, as well). That’s a totally different job, although the point that any transcription takes longer than you’d think is valid.

The main thing IMHO is to get transcription equipment. These days you can get a free program that will manage all sorts of sound files. I believe you can hook up a foot pedal to it, or in a pinch (at the Shady Translation Company I was with in Taipei, we did it once with a full-on game interface, although the steering wheel kept hitting one’s ankles when you stepped on the button to control the tape!) Much cheaper and more readily accessible than finding the real thing.

I actually had a transcription machine when I was in Taiwan as I did quite a bit of this kind of work – apparently in those days they couldn’t find anyone else. If you have the right setup, it’s not a bad market niche. Hardly anyone is going to gainsay you as to the accuracy of your transcripts (which I couldn’t say for the US Supreme Court job, they checked very carefully.) However, you’ll never get the fun of hearing some lawyer call the Chief Justice “judge” and get smacked for it: “I am not a judge; I am the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.” I was cringing as I typed it, and I wasn’t even in the room when he said it. :astonished:

Thanks everyone for your input. I appreciate the time you’ve taken. Based on your suggestions, I gave them my price. I didn’t set it in stone…just said, “based on similar work being done by foreigners in Taiwan with similar experience, the going rate for a foreigner doing this kind of job is…” I told them I’d go lower on the price if I was guaranteed a certain amount of cases.

SO…what did they come back with?? They said, for a 1 hour tape…they would give me a flat fee of $2100NTD :loco: And that’s just for starters. They hope that since I would be getting many cases, that I could go lower on the overall price. So if it takes me 4 hours to do everything, then that works out to what…525 an hour? And with a lower fee…less than that…Aiyo…

Also, no special equipment. I’ll be using a standard tape/cd player or possibly MP3 on computer. Oh, and they’d prefer that I drive to their office (25 min) to do it…so they know precisely how long I take.

No need to tell you what I told them. (or told my wife to tell them) But still hoping they’ll come to their senses and pay a reasonable price.

Thought you’d get a kick out of that.