Are you in need of translation services? Do you want to have an idea of how much it will cost? In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into translation rates.
Below, we’ll explain how translations are priced and why prices vary. We’ll also touch upon the price vs. quality dilemma and answer some frequent questions on the topic.
- How do you price a translation?
- Why do translation prices vary?
- Machine translation
- Price vs. quality in translation services
- Translation rates FAQs
- Final thoughts
How do you price a translation?
Translation rates depend on various factors but are usually priced per word or page. When priced per word, the cost of your translation will depend on the number of words on the original text or document in question. When charged per page, the price will be calculated according to the number of pages it has.
There are some exceptions to calculating the price based on the number of words in the original document. Languages such as Japanese, Arabic, and Hebrew may pose a challenge when it comes to counting words. In this case, you may be charged according to the translated words.
Translation services per word
This is the most common method for pricing translations. The price per word ranges from $0.08 to $0.50, depending on the factors we’ll cover in the next section.
Translation services per page
The industry typically defines one "page" as 250 words. The cost per page usually ranges between $20 and $130.
Why do translation prices vary?
As you’ve seen above, translation rates can vary considerably. In this section, we’ll focus on all factors that can affect translation costs. We’ll also discuss minimum charges.
Offer and demand ****have an effect on the price of translations, just like it does in any other industry. The more native speakers, the more translators in that language combination and, in turn, the lower the price. The fewer native speakers, the higher the price will be.
For example, Spanish has almost half a billion native speakers, while Norwegian has just four and a half million. Therefore, Spanish-into-English translations will not be as costly as those from Norwegian into English. Norwegian into Thai will have even steeper pricing.
Length of document
This might go without saying, but the length of your document will affect the price. Translating 100 words is not the same as translating 100,000. The longer the document, the more time it will take the translator or translation company to work on it. Moreover, longer documents mean translators must take extra care regarding vocabulary consistency which also takes up time.
The subject matter of your text or document will affect translation rates. While a letter between friends or family members is unlikely to require a specialized translator, a patent or a manual will. Documents that require specialized knowledge will be more expensive to translate.
If your translation has special requirements, the price will likely be higher. In the United States, official documents usually require a certified translation or notarization. Other countries have their own set of requirements, such as sworn translation.
It is important to check requirements before ordering your translation and explain them to the translator or translation agency. This will help avoid issues with your translation as well as any misunderstandings or extra costs.
If you need your translation urgently, you should expect to pay a rush fee. Rush fees apply when the translator has to move other projects around to accommodate your document or has to work longer days, nights or weekends.
Rush fees can vary from an extra 30% to 100% of the regular translation rate.
The cost of living also affects translation rates. A translator in Spain is unlikely to charge the same as one in Bolivia simply because different budgets are required to live in these countries.
Your document may require extra services. Not all translators offer these, but if they do, this will affect pricing. The most common of these is visual assets.
If your document has images or graphics that need editing, translators will usually charge extra for this. Graphics and images typically require specialized software to manipulate and edit. This means translators have to pay for this software and know how to use it. Not to mention the extra time this editing will require.
If your document has just one image or graphic, the translator may let it slide. If there are a few and they are complex to edit, translators can either charge an extra percentage of the translation rate or bill you per hour for this work.
It is common for translators to have a minimum charge. Why? Well, there are several reasons. Small projects usually mean the translator has less context to work with. This means more time has to be invested in researching certain terms or asking questions to the customer to fully understand the document. Moreover, no matter the size of the translation project, administrative tasks will take up a chunk of the translator’s time. Finally, short texts are usually expected within a tight deadline. This often means the translator has to stop what they are doing to jump into that translation project.
You’re probably familiar with Google translate. Well, that’s machine translation (ML): the use of computers to automatically translate from one language (source language) into another (target language) without human input.
We won’t deny Google translate is a great tool for getting a general understanding of texts. However, in the translation industry, machine translation engines tend to be specialized and accompanied by post-editing (a revision by a qualified translator). Machine translation is still far from flawless and the potential errors it may make could eventually be quite costly. This is why technical translations should always be reviewed by a professional translator that specializes in the relevant subject matter.
There are many advantages to using machine translation services: it’s fast, scalable, and cost-effective. ML is widely used in several fields, such as intellectual property and banking. Therefore, if you have regular translation work from technical fields, it might be worthwhile to look into machine translation to help you reduce costs.
We should note that some documents are not a good fit for ML. For example, legal documents, certified translations, and marketing materials would be better served by a traditional translation process.
Price vs. quality in translation services
You might be familiar with the cost-quality-time Venn diagram. If you are, you’ll also understand how it applies to translation services.
Although price is not always a marker of quality, this is a good indication most of the time. If you want to achieve good results, you should focus on finding a qualified translator or reputable agency. Finding the right fit for your document is key to ensuring you receive a good-quality translation.
Translation quality is governed by ISO standards 9001 and 17100. These ensure that the translation process is adequately recorded and that quality assurance processes are followed.
Checking that your translator or translation company of choice follows one of these can help you make the right choice. You can find more information about the standards here.
Why choose professional translators?
Professional translators or translation companies are the best way to go for your translation needs. They will be familiar with the relevant terminology and qualified to do the job. They will also be aware of any specific procedures and requirements.
Choosing professional translation services ensures your translation is error-free and carried out in a timely manner. It might also save you money in the long run.
Translation rates FAQs
Now that you have a good idea of what to expect from translation rates in 2023, let’s cover some more specific questions.
How much does it cost to translate 1000 words?
According to the rates we cited at the beginning of this article, the cost can be between $80 and $500. The exact price will depend on the type of document, the language combination and the urgency of the translation, among other factors.
RushTranslate charges $0.10 for standard translations, for a total of $100 for 1000 words.
What is the average rate for translation per page?
As mentioned above, the rate varies from $20 to $130 per page. RushTranslate uses the per-page rate for certified translation and charges $24.95.
How much do English-to-Spanish translators charge?
According to ProZ.com, English-to-Spanish translations are usually between $0.08 and $0.11 per word or $25-34 per hour.
As we’ve seen, translation rates can vary greatly. There is not one set price that applies to all documents, languages and situations. Just like in the translation process, context is everything.
We hope our article has shed some light on what to expect when translating your documents and the importance of turning to qualified translators or translation agencies.
Updated January 24, 2023 in Translation