The importance of translation for Israel lies in the fact that it is extremely necessary for carrying out business with any individual or company overseas. It is also central for tourism and international relationships.
However, according to Shakhar Pelled, a legal, financial and technical translator with 25 years of experience in the field, one of the main issues is that anyone who has been abroad a couple of months and can therefore speak a foreign language thinks they are up for the job. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that there is no one exam every translator must pass in order to be recognised as such. Many Israelis end up considering the jobs as part-time activities which can be done easily at home.
Low Rates and Freelance Work
A second problem is related to the way the translation industry works. Out of the thousands of translators in Israel, around 95 per cent work on a freelance basis. In the literary business, the rates are of around 50 shekels (around $14) every 250 words, while other more technical fields pay up to 100 shekels for that same amount. The translation of subtitles is the most poorly paid of all the translation jobs, as it offers around 25 to 30 shekels per hour of work.
With the raise of Israeli translation companies in recent years, the situation for translators has deteriorated even further, as the price paid for each translated document is divided between the company and the translator in varying percentages. Competition between translation companies causes prices to drop as each company tries to offer more competitive fares. Even the Israeli government itself hires translation companies who have lower prices but work with amateur translators whose work is not up to the quality expected. Giving preference to the lowest bidder without controlling the quality of the product that is being offered leads to poor translations which continue to make both the profession and the business less serious.