Setting a budget for your translation project can be confusing if you don’t know how translators and agencies set their prices.
Also, there are many pricing unites to set the cost for this type of language services. There are translation costs per hour, per page and per word.
That is why in this guide, I will explain how translators and agencies charge for translation services. Also, I will discuss how you can reduce the cost of translation costs.
As this is a long article, below you can find a table of content to access the main sections.
There are Different Translation Service Types:
Generally, there are 3 types of translation services. Two are old and one is new. It is a good idea to know about them and decide which one fits your needs.
Here is an explanation of each one of them:
1- Translation Service Cost:
This is the most common language service type. You ask someone to translate a document for you without changing or adapting the content. This applies to business documents, personal papers, medical reports, and other types of content that don’t require any type of adaptation for translation readers.
The cost of this translation service ranges from $0.06 to $0.015 per word, depending on the text type and the language you want the translation for.
2- Localization Service Cost:
This is where you take things further. You ask the translator to adapt the translation to look like it was written for the translation readers. So, the translator may convert the measurement units, the currencies, and other culture-related staff. Usually, this is used for device manuals, games, and international companies websites.
The cost here will be %30-50% more than the standard translation rates. Also, it may include other services such as voice-over and dubbing.
3- Machine Translation Post Editing cost
Usually, the pricing of machine translation will depend on the rate of the translation services.
Basically, the machine translation prices range from 65% – 75 % of the original translation rate. So, if the human translation rate is USD100 per words word, the machine translation post-editing rate would be USD 75 to 65 per 1000 words.
The Content Type Affects the Rate of the Translation Service Fees:
Not all texts take the same time to be translated, some of them take more time than others.
For example, a financial report translation will take more time than a press release translation. Finance texts contain many numbers and they need to be reviewed many times to ensure they are correct.
So, expect that you will hear different rates of translation based on the content type you want to translate. Below are the most common types of content:
1- Legal and Finance: These are related to documents such as court documents, labor contracts, agreements, forex news, and bank statements. Legal and financial documents have their own terms and you may even need a translator who studied law and finance to provide an accurate legal and financial translation. Legal texts are charged per page, starting from $25 per page, and financial texts are charged per word, starting from $0.08 per word in many languages.
2- Business Documents: These documents are related to how companies run their business. They include company policies, a code of conduct, employee surveys, company reports, and training material. The best part about these documents is they are usually in an editable format, such as a PowerPoint or MS Word format, which is easy to use by translators. They are charged at a standard translation rate, starting from $0.06 to $0.15 per word.
3- Marketing Material: These are the marketing campaign assets companies use to promote their services. Such as the company website, brochures, flyers, social media posts, paid advertisements, and others. Marketing document translation requires creative translation and is better to be done by a native speaker of the language. In many cases, the rates of the marketing documents are charged per hour, starting from $25 per hour, depending on the language.
4- E-commerce translation involves translating products and pages but more importantly entails SEO translation.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is using keywords to help Google rank products and pages on its search engine.
Using SEO translation or multilingual SEO comes with several benefits, the most important is ranking for products in multiple languages.
5- E-learning translation can include translating online courses, informative blog posts, or in some cases entire syllabi. It may also include translating video content, subtitling, or voice-over. Each of these contributes to translation costs and takes them up a notch.
6- Website translation is gaining traction because of the growing number of websites. Website translation costs include the number of web pages, transcreation, SEO translation, and of course topic complexity.
7- Video game translation often involves several translation tasks and relies on localization more than mere translation.
It usually includes voice-over requirements, some user experience (UX) translation, translating information in the help Centre, and sometimes subtitling translation.
what is the average cost for translation services:
Just the same as you pay for gasoline by liters, translators and freelance translators and translation agencies have their pricing units.
This makes it easier for you and the translator to know how to charge and then calculate the total cost of the documents or files you want to translate.
These are the standard pricing units.
1- Translation Services Cost Per Word:
This is the most common cost of translation services. The translator will count the number of words using word processing software and will tell you the cost of the translation. For example, according to proz.com the English-to-Japanese standard translation rate is $0.12 per word. So, a company policy document of 4000 words will cost $480. The cost depends on the language and the content type.
2- the hourly rate for translation services:
This is the second most common pricing unit. Usually, a professional translator can translate 250-350 words per hour, depending on the complexity of the text. So, if you want the hourly rate for translation services, the translator will base the translation cost on this productivity rate. For example, a 3500-word document translation into Spanish may take around 11 hours, so the cost will be $350 if the hourly rate of the Spanish translator is $32.
3- Translation services cost Per Page:
Translators and translation companies use this pricing unit in case the document is not editable, aka no software can count the number of words. The translator will have a look and determine how many words exist on the documents. The number of words will be different per page. So, a visual check is better to be used here. The translation cost per page can start as low as $20 per page.
The market rate for translation services:
Different markets set different translation costs and prices. Someone who lives in the United States will charge differently from who lives in Mexico for example.
Also, you will find the costs charged by freelancers and agencies are not the same. So, there are no a definite market rate for translation services.
However, you can ask members of organizations such as the American Translators Association (ATA) or the Association of Translation Companies for their prices. Usually, the members of these associations are professionals and can give you an actual average of the translation costs.
Machine Translation is Cheaper, But Not the Best Option:
First, I want to make it clear that machine translation services, such as Google Translate, have witnessed huge progress in recent years. They are using machine learning now, which has improved the quality they generate.
Yes, the cost of machine translation can be as low as $0.03 per word.
However, you can’t trust a service like Google Translate with a legal document you will submit to the court, a marketing brochure to sell your products or services, or a medical document where a slight error can cause the loss of lives.
You can use machine translation for things like quick translation of a web page to know its content, or employee surveys to have an overview of their opinions.
Machine translation should be used only for informational purposes and nothing more, at least for now.
How Freelancer and translation agencies set their price:
You’re probably wondering now how service providers determine translation costs.
To answer your question, we’ve created a list of the seven main factors that affect the cost of translation. Let’s discover them in detail.
1. Project volume
The first thing a translation agency or a freelancer will ask you about is the volume of the project.
With the majority of content-related work, including translation, costs are determined on a per word basis.
2. Project complexity
The second element is how easy or complex the subject and project are. Some fields, like medical and legal translation, are generally more complex than others.
This complexity raises the cost of translation.
By combining the word count and the complexity level, the translation service provider will be able to give an accurate price and time estimate for your project.
3. Video content
Projects that involve video content tend to be of higher value than simple text. That’s because video content may require subtitling translation or voice-over work or both.
Each of these services comes with its own fee. Combine them and the cost increases.
This, again, shouldn’t deter you. Because at the end of the day, if you have to do all of this yourself, you won’t get any work done and you won’t have time to focus on your core business.
Whereas working with an agency like TranslationPartner means you’ll be able to give them the project, answer a few questions, get a quote, and forget about your project till it’s ready.
Voice-over comes with higher translation costs because in many cases the agency will outsource this side of the project.
In addition, some factors like certain accents, filtering voice-over artists, and reviewing samples from actors, will take more time and accordingly require more money.
5. Localization and translation
Localization is a deeper level of translation where the content is not only translated but also given a local flavour.
For example, if you want to translate an online course into French, you may want to consider which French-speaking audience is your main target audience.
There are French speakers in Canada, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Rwanda, Congo, and many other African countries.
You may opt to translate into France’s French, which is OK. However, there are many differences between France’s French, Canadian French, and African French.
6. Translation type
We’ve mentioned that complexity plays a role in the cost of translation services. Another aspect is the type of translation required.
Some translation types cost more than others. It’s been the case for decades and will continue to be so for more years and decades to come.
For example, legal translation, which involves contracts and certified translation of government documents, tends to be quite expensive.
The translation of clinical trials or courses usually means a large volume and may encompass other aspects, resulting in higher translation costs.
7. Target language scarcity
Some languages cost more than others. This is usually because of the rarity of the language itself, its complexity, or the cost of hiring a native speaker of that language. Or all of those reasons combined.
8. The reviewing process
Last but certainly not least is the reviewing process. It’s an essential part of any translation, localization, or transcreation process. It’s also what concludes the project.
Working with native speakers of the target language often comes with a higher fee, making the review process a costly but necessary requirement.
How to Reduce the cost of translation services:
There are several ways to reduce the cost of translation services here are my top 5 recommendations.
1. Use a translation memory software:
Translation memory software can help to save costs by reusing translated content from previous projects. This means that if you have similar content to translate, you can use the previously translated text and only pay for the new content.
2. Simplify your content:
If your content is complex, technical, or has a lot of industry-specific jargon, it will be more expensive to translate. Simplifying your content and using plain language can help to reduce the cost of translation.
3. Use a translation agency:
Translation agencies can offer competitive pricing and may be able to negotiate lower rates for larger projects or ongoing work. They can also provide project management and quality control services, which can save you time and money in the long run.
4. Plan ahead:
Rush jobs or last-minute changes can add to the cost of translation services. Planning ahead and providing clear instructions can help to reduce the time and cost of translation.
Common Questions about the Price of Translation Services
How much Do translation services cost per hour?
The hourly rate is not common for direct translation services, as translators usually charge per word. However, for revision and editing tasks, translators can accept hourly prices. The hourly rate varies according to the language pair, deadline and the complexity of the text. The range of hourly prices for translation services is $20 to $75 per hour.
How much do translators charge per word?
A translator’s fee per word is dependent on the language, subject matter, and other factors. Each language pairs have its own prices, which can range from $0.07 to +$0.50 per word. The subject matter is another major factor. Technical content is charged differently from marketing content which requires a more creative translation.
how much do translations cost?
The cost of a translation depends on the language, the content, and the number of words. For instance, translating short text from English into Farsi will be less expensive than translating this text in Japanese. You can expect to pay from $0.08 to $0.20 per word depending on the language pair and the content complexity.
how much is retail translation?
The cost of retail translation will depend on the language request and the text. However, the average cost retail translation can range from 0.10 to 0.15 per word .So, you need to know how many words your website or catalog has. Then calculate the retail content translation costs.
how much is it to hire a translator?
You will have to pay an hourly translation cost or a per page translation cost to hire a translator. Their prices of translators will depend on where they live and their prices list. So, you need to contact the translator to know their prices. But you can expect an hourly rate from $20 up to $50.
There are many factors to consider to know the price of the translation service.
The content type and who you hire are important considerations in determining the cost. It is better to have your document in an editable format to have an accurate cost of the translation and not have any conflict with the translator.
Find a professional translator with a track record to do the translation for you. Choose someone with a proven track record and who can give you high-quality, with excellent performance.